Why do they do that? Drool.
Drool happens, but it shouldn’t happen anymore once your child is finished teething.
If your child is drooling but not teething, find out why from a professional.
The thing about having young children is that it’s all about bodily fluids of one kind or another. Among the less offensive, but no less significant bodily fluids is saliva. It’s pretty much everywhere if you have a child younger than two years old. As any parent can attest, there’s spit (or spit up) on everyone’s shirt, pretty much all the time. But why? And how long should that last?
Babies drool mostly because they don’t have good control over their muscles. Their suck-swallow-breathe reflex is just that: a reflex. So babies don’t “voluntarily” swallow at first. So, if there’s saliva in their mouth and they’re not suckling, it will come out the front. No big deal.
Later in babyhood, drooling is caused by overproduction of saliva in the salivary glands (6 of them!) as teeth start to erupt. By this time, your child is gaining some control over their swallowing, but if there’s too much saliva, your child can’t control it and so some of it comes out the front. Again, no big deal.
By the time your child is two, they should have gotten most of their teeth. The salivary glands go back to “normal”, and your child now has the muscular control to voluntarily swallow when his mouth is full of liquid.
Drooling should subside at this point, and you might be able to wear some clothes that are dry clean only. (Maybe).
By age two, your child shouldn’t need to wear a bib to keep herself dry, and she should be able to keep the saliva in her mouth.
If your two year old is still drooling but is not teething, it’s time to ask why.
Talk to your pediatrician first and see what they say. They may tell you to wait and see or they may send you to a speech therapist for a consultation.
One thing that comes up often is “low tone”. This means that the muscles (in this case, in the face) are “wired a little loosely”. This is not necessarily a bad thing and it’s not something that a therapist would treat directly.
Most often, low tone just describes that the lips are open at rest (which automatically means some amount of drooling is happening). By age two, your child’s mouth should be closed at rest. Unless they have an upper respiratory condition (stuffy nose, etc), your child should be breathing through their nose and their lips should be closed most of the time.
If your child’s mouth is open a lot; if they are a “mouth breather”; if they have a lot of congestion, chances are they are also drooling at least a little.
Drooling can be a sign that something else is going on. An open mouth posture can mean that the muscles for eating and talking are not developing and moving the way they need to. Chronic congestion and mouth breathing (and therefore drooling) can mean that your child might not be hearing well, which can have an impact on speech, language and attention development.
If your two year old is still drooling -- ask why and find someone who can help you answer that question. It’s worth finding out early so that you can course-correct and dry them out!
If you have questions about drooling, mouth-breathing or speech, language and hearing issues, contact us for a free 15-minute conversation. We’re here for you.
All my best,