When Do Babies Stop Drooling? (And How To Tell It’s Excessive)
“When do babies stop drooling?”
“Does it ever stop?”
These are the questions I used to ask myself with our first child, and I believe that they are also the questions many parents all over the world ask themselves. Fortunately, the answer is yes. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when. However, there are certain cases that your child’s drooling might be a little bit excessive.
Drooling - What To Expect From Your Child
Drooling, or the involuntary flowing of saliva outside the mouth is a normal part of your child’s development. This is particularly the case during the first two years of his life. He hasn’t developed full control of the muscles around his mouth yet, preventing him from fully swallowing his saliva when he has to. Here’s a quick overview of the developmental stages of your child’s drooling.
- 0-3 Months: From your child’s birth until his third month, he may not drool a lot when he’s reclining, although he may drool when he’s in a sitting position.
- Six to Nine Months: At six months, your child’s drooling is more controlled when he’s in the supine position, but not very well when he’s seated. At times, he will also drool as a response to certain foods, and may also drool when he’s teething, babbling, or even when playing with or reaching for objects. By nine months, he’ll still be drooling in response to teething, but not as much when he’s engaged in rolling, crawling, and other gross motor activities.
- 15 to 18 Months: At 15 months, drooling may still be observed when your child is teething or when he’s engaged in fine motor activities like playing with blocks. This will eventually stop when he reaches 18 months of age, although he may still drool when feeding, dressing, or teething.
- 24 Months: As your child reaches this stage, his drooling should have gone minimal.
Why Do Some Babies Drool Excessively?
As mentioned, drooling in infants is a result of their inability to control their muscles around the mouth. This typically stops around the age of four. For some children, however, it may be excessive. In such cases, the drooling may be a symptom of developmental delay or a medical condition.
Any food, activity, medication, or medical condition that leads to poor muscle control, difficulty swallowing, and unrestrained production of saliva may also cause this. Many people think that drooling is a result of hyper salivation, also known as sialorrhea since it gives the appearance that it is so. However, it is not always necessarily the case.
The following are common causes and risk factors for excessive drooling in children.
Age and Diet
Drooling is normal in newborns and will peak between the third and sixth months of the child when he has become more active. During this period, drooling is considered normal, especially when your child is teething.
Any diet you give your child that is high in acidic content can also cause him to drool excessively. Additionally, as your child’s diet changes and his chewing skill begins to develop, he will need to learn to control the amount of saliva that fills his mouth when he’s not eating.
Some children drool excessively due to a neurological disorder that decreases their control of their facial muscles. Cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease all cause muscle weakness and affect a person’s ability to close his mouth and swallow saliva properly. Down syndrome and childhood apraxia of speech may also cause excessive drooling in children.
Here’s another video showing how this condition is treated through therapy.
- Your child is teething. Drooling isn’t necessarily a sign of teething, but when your child is going through the process, he will drool a lot.
- Your child’s mouth is constantly in an open posture. Since swallowing requires that the mouth is closed, a child’s constant open mouth posture may be a primary reason he’s always drooling.
- Your child is engaged in a motor activity that requires balance. It’s normal for children to drool when they’re acquiring a new motor skill. When the skill has become automatic for them, the drooling related to the activity stops.
Should I Have My Child Treated for Drooling?
You don’t necessarily have to get treatment for your child’s drooling, unless it has become excessive and has resulted in physical skin damage around the mouth or if it’s a result of a more serious condition such. Even doctors would say that it’s normal and won’t recommend any form of treatment if your child is still under four.
The only time treatment would be required is when your child is already over four years old, and his drooling has become severe. Severe drooling is characterized by saliva dripping from the lips to the clothing and usually interferes with daily activities and creates social problems. In very rare cases, and usually only among adults, severe drooling may lead to saliva being inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia.
Treatment options are usually on a case-by-cases basis. Your doctor may perform a physical examination and come up with a management plan that suits your child’s need the best.
Why Should I Care About My Child’s Drooling And What Can I Do?
Aside from the fact that excessive drooling can be messy, it can also lead to social problems. This is especially true if your child looks perfectly healthy and doesn’t seem to have any conditions that may result to him drooling in the first place.
Moreover, drooling may be a sign of a serious underlying condition, and without early intervention, may lead to something worse. The good news is there are several steps you can take to help minimize your child’s drooling, especially if you know what’s causing it.
- If your child is drooling as a result of teething, a good way to deal with it is to provide him with a teething toy. If your child is already over a year old, you may want to give him some cold food items to help soothe his gums. Make sure you are supervising your child when giving him something to chew on to avoid choking.
- If you have a toddler, ask him to close his mouth and keep his chin up when eating. Explain to him that doing so will help him swallow his food better and not drool.
- The sight of sweet food alone can cause drooling, while intake of such can lead to excess production of saliva. Saliva contains amylase, the enzyme that helps break down starch into sugar. If your child is drooling, do not offer him any sweets.
- Your child may also drool when he has a sore throat as a result of a cold. He will have a hard time swallowing when his throat is hurting. Offering him cold diluted juice or water may help keep his throat moist and lessen his drooling.
Working With A Health Professional
Drooling is a normal part of a child’s development and should be minimal as soon as he reaches two years old. If you’re concerned about the severity of your child’s drooling, you may want to seek help from a therapist. A licensed professional will help you determine the primary cause of your child’s excessive drooling and provide methods to intervene. In most cases, a therapist may suggest the following:
- Increase your child’s oral-sensory awareness to help him assess when his mouth and face is wet.
- Help your child achieve and maintain a closed mouth posture.
- Improve his head and trunk control for a more controlled and efficient swallowing. Improve his oral-motor control to help him with swallowing.
Working with a health professional in dealing with your child’s drooling will give you peace of mind. Most importantly, it will help your child receive the exact help he needs.
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