Infants do not have complete control of their swallowing because the muscles in their mouths are still weak. Because of this, babies start to drool. This is perfectly normal and something you should expect in the first two years of your child’s life.
What many parents fail to understand is how vital drooling is for their baby’s development. Babies, as well as adults, should have a healthy balance of saliva in their mouths. Not only does it help in the digestion of food, but also contributes to making your teeth strong!
Here’s a complete guide to why babies drool and clear-cut ways to manage the problem of excessive drooling in babies.
So, let’s get started.
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Why do babies drool?
Drooling is just saliva that unintentionally flows outside your mouth. The glands that cause drooling are called salivary glands. The biggest reason your baby cannot stop drooling is the weak or underdeveloped muscles that prevent the saliva from leaking out of your mouth.
But if we go beyond the surface level information, drooling is actually a sign of a well-functioning digestive system. This means your baby’s body is utilizing the right amount of saliva to digest food. And the saliva is protecting their body from all sorts of harsh bacteria residing in their gut.
However, that’s not it. Here are some other reasons why babies drool in the first place.
Although drooling starts right after birth, it increases as your child becomes more active. Rest assured that it’s an entirely normal process that all kids go through, especially during teething.
A diet that is high in acidic content leads to higher saliva production. Therefore, feeding your child sugar and protein-rich food can also trigger drooling.
To treat this, try neutralizing their digestive system by feeding them vegetables, healthy fats, and non-citrus foods. With time, the excessive drooling will also subside.
There are times when drooling isn’t a natural process. Certain medical conditions like cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease can make your child lose their ability to keep their facial muscles tight. This would also impact their ability to close her mouth correctly.
Another thing to bear in mind is that if your baby drools after smelling milk or food, they could be developing their sense of smell. The enzymes in saliva can also aid digestion in semi-solid or solid food for babies between 4 to 6 months.
Here, saliva works by neutralizing the stomach acid and helps develop the lining of your baby’s esophagus. When this saliva works by binding food, you will see improved performance in their swallowing and digestion.
What are some best ways to manage it?
When it comes to drooling for small infants, it is an entirely natural process. However, if your child still drools after the age of four, this can be a concerning factor.
Excessive drooling can interfere with regular activities, and it can also result in inhaling saliva into the lungs, causing pneumonia. Several methods can work for your little bundle of joy to prevent this.
Oral motor therapy
Oral motor therapy is a noninvasive procedure prescribed by a pediatrician. It involves specialized exercises that aim to improve the strength, control and coordination of oral muscles such as the tongue, lips, and jaw.
Oral prosthetic device
An oral prosthetic device can keep your baby’s mouth in place and uses special devices that help lip closure during swallowing. This can do wonders in positioning the tongue and give your child more control to swallow.
Certain medications can help eliminate drooling to a great extent. Here are the medications that are worth talking to your pediatrician about:
Glycopyrrolate: this comes in the form of a pill or injection that instantly starts to show results on your baby. The medicine works by slowly drying out the mouth and reducing excess saliva production.
Atropine Sulfate: this medicine comes in drops that are taken by mouth.
Scopolamine: a patch is placed directly on the skin to gradually infuse the medicine in your baby’s body throughout the day. These patches last for up to 72 hours.
Once you pinpoint the potential problem, consult your doctor about the possible solutions and how you can ease your child’s messy drooling.
The only takeaway I want you to have from this article is that drooling is perfectly normal. In fact, if your child is currently drooling right now, congratulations! They are completely healthy!
However, this could become a problem when the mess of drooling becomes uncomfortable. If you don’t want to go the extra mile and get a treatment, simply sticking to a healthy diet can work just fine in managing your baby’s drool.