While drooling and bubbling saliva is typical of babies, many parents are concerned as to what extent they should consider normal. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about baby drooling.
Why Do Babies Drool?
Every baby will go through a stage wherein drooling and bubbling their saliva is very evident. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies drool while they explore and take in most of their needs through the mouth. In most cases, drooling is a normal part of a baby’s development, and it is typically observed during the following instances:
Experts suggest that one manifestation of impending tooth eruption in babies is drooling. There seems to be an increased in the production of saliva before teething begins. This can be as early as a few months before you notice that your baby’s first tooth erupts.
In this case, drooling is simply a normal reaction of the body to prepare your baby’s gut and oral cavity for the introduction of solid foods. When the tooth erupts, saliva also acts as a natural barrier from tooth decay. It regularly washes your baby’s teeth and removes food debris from his mouth.
Upon introduction to solid foods, your baby’s body will compensate in this new type of diet by increasing the production of saliva. Digesting milk is much simpler than absorbing the solid foods, so it is reasonable for the body to take one step forward when it comes to food digestion.
As we all know, saliva plays an important role in digesting food. The saliva contains an important enzyme called ptyalin that facilitates the breakdown of starchy foods into sugar that the body can absorb. The increased salivary production at this phase will also help protect your baby’s stomach because it acts as a natural antacid.
However, since your baby’s muscular coordination needs a little more practice, she may not notice that her saliva is already dripping. But don’t worry! Your baby will soon be an expert in chewing and swallowing while keeping her saliva in.
Sometimes, drooling may also happen in response to the sight, scent, or taste of certain foods. Just like adults, your baby’s salivary glands may also be triggered by sour foods. So this is not something to be concerned about.
Concentration in activities involving the mouth
It is normal for babies to explore everything by mouth. They will go through a stage when they will place their hand, toys, shirt, and everything they hold into their mouth.
Concentrating on these activities will stimulate their salivary glands to produce more saliva. While your baby is busy tasting and gnawing on anything, drooling is more likely to happen.
Drooling while sleeping is normal since your baby lacks muscle control while asleep. It also happen among adults, so you need to worry less about your baby drooling while sleeping.
When Do Babies Start Drooling?
Drooling is linked to the developmental stages that babies go through. According to experts, drooling is typically observed by 3 months of age, either as a preparation to teething or because of baby’s increased activities by mouth.
Upon noticing an increase in saliva production, you may do the following measures while waiting for your baby to successfully overcome this stage:
- Always clean your baby’s mouth and the surrounding skin to prevent itching and skin rashes.
- Wear bibs over your baby’s neck to catch any saliva that is dripping from his mouth. Make sure they are worn safely, and frequently check them to prevent accidental strangulation.
- Use soft washcloths or baby bibs when wiping your baby’s mouth to prevent further irritation.
- The increased in saliva production also requires extra hydration. Keep your baby hydrated by frequent nursing. Babies who are older than 6 months may also be introduced to water or fruit juices.
- Change your baby’s wet clothes as needed. The saliva in the clothing may irritate your baby’s skin if left for longer hours.
When Do Babies Stop Drooling?
The extent of time that babies normally manifest drooling varies. Some babies may have full control of their chewing and swallowing as early as 12 months, while some may have it up to 24 months.
According to experts, drooling is typically fine. However, if your baby doesn’t overcome drooling by his 5th birthday, then it may be due to other reasons or medical conditions.
In some other cases, drooling may seem too much than other babies typically have. An baby that is drooling excessively may possibly have the following conditions:
Open mouth posture
Drooling may be more apparent in babies who are fond of opening their mouths for long periods of time, even when they’re not eating. This is termed as the open mouth posture.
Malocclusion, cavities and infection of the gums may also contribute to increased drooling.
Oral structural problems
Malformations in the lips and oral cavity may interfere with a baby’s ability of swallow his saliva and lead to drooling.
Drooling may also be a sign of Cerebral Palsy and Bell’s Palsy. In these medical conditions, drooling is accompanied by other symptoms like delayed speech and motor skill development.
Babies with this condition have troubles in swallowing, even with their saliva. This is termed as pediatric dysphagia. In this case, drooling may be manifested with difficulties in nursing, eating, drinking, and even breathing.
Overall, drooling is a normal part of your baby’s growth and development. However, as a parent, you may also trust your instincts. If you feel your baby is excessively drooling or if he manifests other signs of delayed development, then it is wise to seek advice from your doctor for an appropriate assessment and intervention.
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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.