Did you know that the way your child breathes can affect their sleep, their concentration, and their dental health? The benefits of nose breathing are pretty amazing! Let’s take a look at nose breathing vs. mouth breathing – plus how to help your child with proper breathing.
Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing
We’re simply not meant to breathe primarily through our mouths. Mouth breathing in children can result in a lot of negative effects, such as:
- Poor alignment of teeth and jaw
- Restless sleep
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
- Bad breath and increased tooth decay
- Increased colds, allergies, and sinus problems
Our bodies are built to breathe through our noses. The nose adds warmth and moisture to the air we breathe. Nose breathing also keeps the proper alignment of our jaws and teeth. When we focus on nose breathing, we enjoy these benefits:
- Restful sleep
- Increased oxygen intake
- Immune system support
- Healthy throat, sinuses, and airways
- Resistance to colds, allergies, and throat irritation
- Engages the parasympathetic nervous system (the anti-stress system)
Nose Breathing Increases Oxygen Intake
One of the most important benefits of nose breathing is increased oxygen intake.
According to clinical research, “Nose breathing imposes approximately 50 percent more resistance to the air stream, as compared to mouth breathing. This results in 10 to 20 percent more oxygen uptake.”
This increased oxygen supports the health of your entire body. Taking in more oxygen has some incredible benefits:
- Boost memory
- Increase concentration and focus
- Build endurance
- Boost energy and mood
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase circulation
- Strengthen your immune system
How to Help Your Child with Nose Breathing
If your child tends to breathe through their mouth, don’t worry! There are a few ways you can help them shift to nose breathing. Over time, they’ll naturally start to breathe more through their nose.
Nose Breathing Exercises
Sometimes, kids just don’t realize they can focus on nose breathing. Make it fun and they’ll look forward to practicing! Try this exercise to help train children to breathe through their nose:
- Tell your child to breathe in through their nose as if they’re smelling something delicious.
- As they exhale, have them hold their palm in front of their nose. This helps them feel their breath as it comes out of their nostrils.
- Repeat for 1-2 minutes until your child becomes comfortable with nose breathing.
You may notice your child is breathing into their chest rather than their stomach (diaphragm). To encourage belly breathing, have them place their hands on top of their head while nose breathing. This naturally helps children breathe into their bellies.
Here are some great activities that encourage nose breathing.
Dust, Dander, and Other Allergens/Irritants
Even if your child doesn’t have extreme allergies, common allergens can still cause irritation to the airways. Reduce the dust, dander, and allergens in your home with these tips:
- Replace furnace filters monthly.
- Vacuum regularly (at least once per week).
- Dust frequently with a damp cloth.
- Monitor humidity levels and get a dehumidifier if necessary.
- Wash sheets and bedding once per week.
- Declutter so dust and particles can’t collect easily.
- Get a HEPA air filter to help clean the air (especially in bedrooms).
Learn how to clear the nose by practicing this exercise with Dr. Rosalba Courtney
Build breathing practices into the daily routine with your children. Here is a great bedtime routine to promote healthy breathing habits early in life!
Have your child lie down on their back and place a BE Buddy® (or other stuffed friend or bag of rice) on their belly. Instruct them to focus on breathing through the nose. Tell him to watch the BE Buddy® rise and fall on the belly in rhythm with their breath.
Inhale-make a big belly for 4, 3, 2, 1
Exhale-pull the naval in making a small belly for 4, 3, 2, 1
Not only will this promote healthy diaphragmatic nasal breathing, but an excellent way to calm the mind and body before rest.
Limit Foods that Increase Congestion
Dairy can often cause sinus inflammation and irritation that makes nose breathing more difficult. If you’ve tried some nose breathing exercises with your child without much success, consider eliminating dairy for 30 days.
Read this article to learn more about foods that can cause congestion.
Learn More Healthy Habits for Children
Want to learn more skills that help children thrive? Click here to grab my free ebook and help your child practice self-care early in life to feel calm, confident, and connected!
Stay connected! Visit us on Instagram @bebuddy to learn more!
Thanks for reading,
🧡 Stephanie Esser
Owner at Balancing Elephants & creator of the BE Buddy® (watch video)
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