baby drooling: when will it stop?

Baby Drooling: When Will It Stop?

As a mother of three girls I can certainly remember the days of going through several shirts and bibs per day when my kids were teething. With each child, the drooling lasted for different lengths of time. When should drooling subside in a child’s development? Hopefully this article will help you decide if it is still OK for your child to be drooling at their age, or if you might need some help from an Early Intervention therapist.

Children’s teeth erupt at different frequencies and rates. I can remember that my nephews seemed to have a mouth full of teeth at 4 months old, and then my daughters didn’t get their first teeth until about 6 months of age. Drooling is very typical for teething children. Once you think all their teeth are in, then the two year old molars start, and after that there are even six year molars (that one threw me for a loop as a mother)! Typically children will stop drooling once their first set of teeth is complete. Some children will display minimal drooling when their two year molars are breaking through the gums, or you may see your child putting toys and fingers back in his or her mouth at this time.

Baby Drooling After Teething

So what does it mean if your child continues to drool past the teething stage? There could be several factors taking place when a child is observed drooling.

Congestion

First, is the child experiencing any kind of congestion? We all know that when we have a cold and stuffy nose it is impossible to breathe with our mouths closed. Children will often leave their mouths hanging wide open to breathe which can lead to drooling. This open mouth posture can also be due to an obstruction in their airway, such as enlarged adenoids or tonsils. Take notice if your child snores when he or she is sleeping. If you notice drooling and snoring, then I would recommend you bring these concerns to your pediatrician’s attention to further discuss if any additional evaluations need to be completed.

Low Muscle Tone

Another reason for increased drooling could be low muscle tone around the mouth. According to Wikipedia, low muscle tone (or hypotonia) is defined as a low amount of tension or resistance to the stretch in a muscle. This would also make the child present with an open mouth posture. The child may have had a hard time keeping a pacifier in his or her mouth or creating an effective seal around a bottle nipple or breast when eating. Low muscle tone can be improved with oral motor exercises that can be demonstrated to a parent by an Early Intervention occupational or speech therapist to practice with their child.

Pacifiers

Finally, through my 11 ½ years of experience in Early Intervention I would say that excessive use of a pacifier can also lead to increased drooling. Children who constantly have a pacifier in their mouths are trained to suck and swallow their saliva more frequently because they are creating an increased amount of saliva from the oral stimulation of the pacifier. It is when the pacifier is not in their mouth that you may notice more drooling. The child’s brain is not cueing them to swallow because they are not sucking on the pacifier at that time. They seem to forget that they need to swallow the saliva in their mouth so it just comes drooling out of their mouths.

In conclusion, you should see the drooling decrease significantly once all your child’s teeth have erupted.   If the drooling continues after the teething stage you may want to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician or request that your child be evaluated for Early Intervention Services.

By: Nicole Sciulli, MOTR/L