Toddler Adenoid Removal and Sleep Apnea

Our experience with sleep apnea and removing our toddler’s adenoids. I’m sharing about surgery, recovery and anesthesia. Adenoid removal in toddlers can be scary, but for us it ended up being well worth it!

Beckett’s First Year

Sometime in Beckett’s first year of life he started really struggling with sleep. He woke up multiple times throughout the night and would cough a lot. After his first birthday Beckett ended up in the hospital with bronchiolitis. He was also diagnosed with reactive airway disease, which is basically asthma in babies.  Beckett continued struggling with sleep and was constantly coughing. I figured it was because of the asthma. We ended up getting to a point where I knew something wasn’t right. I scheduled a doctor appointment and his pediatrician referred us to an ENT.

First Visit with the ENT

The ENT looked at Beckett’s tonsils and adenoids and noticed that they were slightly enlarged. We scheduled a sleep study to see just how much it was impacting his sleep and quality of life.

Sleep Study

During the sleep study Beckett was hooked up to dozens of cords monitoring his sleep. It was a difficult night, for the both of us.

Second Visit with the ENT

The ENT recommended that we remove Beckett’s adenoids and tonsils. The results of the sleep study showed moderate to sever sleep apnea. He was up through the night over 30 times. We scheduled the surgery to remove our toddler’s adenoids.

Our Decision

After talking to friends and doing research, my husband and I opted to just remove his adenoids. Removing tonsils before three can be slightly risky. Although the ENT ensured us that he does this surgery regularly on toddler’s, the doctor supported our decision on just removing his adenoids.

Adenoid Removal – Surgery Day

We showed up at the hospital at 6:30AM on the day of his surgery. He played for a couple of hours and was then given some pre-anesthsia medicine. This made him loopy and out of it enough for the nurses to take my extremely attached child into surgery.

I anxiously waited in the waiting room while my husband went to pick up food. Before my husband was even back the doctor came out giving me a thumbs up. The surgery was successful and only lasted 15 minutes! He let me know that the nurses were monitoring him and waiting with him while he woke up from anesthesia.

As my husband brought our food into the waiting room, the nurse came to get me letting me know that he was awake. After waking up from the anesthesia, he was crying and extremely sleepy. He fell asleep 15 minutes later for another thirty minutes. He drank water fine and the nurses gave us the okay to go home.

At home he was able to eat a banana and a couple of snacks – he was super hungry! He took a nap around two and had a pretty good day. He was clearly uncomfortable, but much better than I expected.


Days 1-2: The first two days I was convinced that they forgot to do the surgery. He was so happy and acting completely normal. The only thing I noticed was his HORRIBLE breath.

Days 3-7:  This is when things got a little more difficult. Beckett was constantly whining and needing to be held. It was clear B was in pain because he would point to his nose and mouth while he was whining. Sleep was just about non-existent, and he was constantly waking up crying. He wasn’t eating a lot and just wanted to nurse constantly. It was also a struggle to get Beckett to take any medicine, but staying on top of this was super important.

Days 8-10: Beckett started sleeping better and feeling much better a little over a week after the surgery. I was able to stop giving him the medicine (Tylenol/ Ibuprofen)   as well. Not to mention, his breath was smelling much better!

Self Diagnosed Results

Although Beckett isn’t sleeping through the night still, It’s clear that breathing is no longer a struggle at night. I no longer hear Beckett snoring, breathing pauses, or a lot of coughing. When he does wake up, it doesn’t take me long to get him back to sleep either, which used to be a long process.

What’s Next…

Animals // Cuddle & Kind

Beckett has another sleep study scheduled in May. Here we will find out if the surgery helped enough to avoid removing Beckett’s tonsils.

As a mom, I had anxiety about the surgery, anesthesia and the recovery. I even considered doing some diet changes to see if it was possible to completely avoid any surgery at all. In the end, I am so incredibly thankful and happy that my husband and I went through with the adenoid removal . It’s so very clear that it has already improved his quality of life. The anxiety and difficult ten days of revery was 100% worth it!

UPDATE – After a second sleep study, Beckett has significantly improved. His sleep, although not perfect, is so much better!

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8 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    Handing your child over for surgery is the hardest thing ever- but when you know it’s going to make them feel so much better, it’s so worth it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Awe poor little guy! Hope he starts sleeping better for you! I hear a lot of younger kiddos having this surgery these days!

  3. Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine how scary this whole process has been for you. It literally gave me anxiety as I read it. I hope your sweet boy is able to avoid another surgery!

  4. Lindsey says:

    Aww poor baby!! So scary when they’re like that but hopefully he can get some relief!

  5. Sarah says:

    I realize this was about a year ago. I was curious how he was doing now. Did he ever have to get his tonsils removed? We are in the same boat. My son is 5 and has been like this his whole life. As were told it was allergies. Just now did they say adenoids and tonsils and OSA.
    I FEEL like just removing adenoids may be enough. His tonsils are large but he rarely has throat issues. It’s nose problems. So we felt let’s start with adenoids. Then again, maybe I’m just delaying the inevitable by not doing tonsils yet?😢

    • Mommy On The Mound says:

      He is doing so much better now! He still wakes up coughing, and really struggles whenever he has a cold. We just aren’t sure if it’s related to his tonsils, allergies or asthma though. In all honesty I wish we would have removed his adenoids and tonsils at the same time to 1.) just get it over with just in case and 2.) rule out that his tonsils may be causing any breathing issues. I know it’s SO HARD making these huge decisions for our children though! Wishing you the best, it’s no fun watching our children struggle! I always wish I could just take it away for them.

  1. March 12, 2018

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