When you have an infant around, you’ll probably have to deal with lots of clean up. Babies spit up, they blow out their diapers, and they drool. Blowing bubbles is adorable, but you might get concerned when your little one is constantly soaking their shirt with their saliva. How much is too much, and should you be concerned about excessive drool?
Humans Make 2 to 4 Pints of Saliva Each Day
The human body makes between 2 and 4 pints of saliva each day. Saliva is necessary for maintaining moisture in your infant’s mouth. It aids in swallowing and clears away residue from breast milk, formula, or food. Saliva helps to keep the environment within the mouth healthy.
Drooling Begins Around 3 to 6 Months of Age
Newborns don’t produce much saliva. Their digestive systems don’t need much help from the enzymes in saliva until they’re getting ready to eat solids. The body starts preparing them for that between 3 to 6 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin offering solid foods when their babies are six months old.
Babies Can’t Swallow as Well as Adults
Infants don’t have the muscle development and coordination that’s necessary to swallow all of their salivae. When their bodies begin producing more, they don’t know how to handle it. It seems like more of the saliva ends up outside their mouths than inside.
Drooling Comes With Milestones
You might notice that your little one is drooling more around the same time that they’ve mastered other milestones, such as putting their hands in their mouth. The saliva becomes a new sensory experience to explore and play with. Infants will use their hands to feel the drool and make raspberries to explore the sensation on their lips.
Drooling Can Mean That Your Child is Teething
You might notice saliva pouring out of your baby’s mouth when they’re teething. The sensations that come along with teething, stimulate drooling. However, just because your 3-month-old is drooling doesn’t mean that you’ll see a tooth pop out soon. The first tooth typically appears closer to 6 months of age.
Your Baby Could Develop a Rash
The constant moisture on your infant’s face could irritate the skin. Sometimes, babies who drool excessively develop red, raw skin or bumps below the lower lip and on the chin. Drool can even collect in the folds of the neck and cause a rash.
Use a Bib to Combat Baby Drool
Make sure that you keep your baby’s skin as dry as possible. A bib can provide a barrier between the moisture and the neck and chest. Coating the skin with a moisturizing ointment can also prevent irritation.
Wiping down your little one’s chin and neck can also help prevent a rash. Just be careful to dab the skin gently so that you don’t aggravate it further.
Drooling Continues for About Two Years
It’s normal for little ones to drool until they’re about two years old. By the time babies are about nine months old, they may not drool as much as they’re performing gross motor activities, such as crawling or walking. But they may still have episodes of heavy drool when they’re teething, eating or playing. The drooling typically slows down around two years of age.
Drooling Should Be a Dribble
It can seem like your baby drools a lot. Regular dribbling is normal. If your child has a steady stream of saliva that pours out of the mouth, you might want to have it checked out.
Some children have problems with their tonsils or adenoids, which can contribute to drooling. A pediatrician or physical therapist will be able to help you determine if there are issues that are causing your baby to drool more than usual. Weak jaw muscles or failure to close the mouth at rest can increase drooling, but these concerns can be remedied with therapy.
Could Drooling Be a Sign that Something is Wrong?
While drooling is normal for infants and toddlers, sudden drool can be a sign that something is wrong. If your child is having trouble breathing, turning blue, or gasping for air while drooling, they could be choking. Sometimes, a sore throat can cause a baby to drool. If you’re ever concerned about your infant’s drooling, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician. Call 911 if it’s an emergency, or you suspect that your child is having an allergic reaction.