Drooling

Why does my baby drool?

Babies drool because they haven’t yet developed the ability to use their tongue to move saliva, or spittle, to the back of the mouth and swallow it and younger babies do not have any teeth to keep the saliva behind the gums. Instead, it leaks out of the front. This is normal, starting at about one month of age and usually ending at about two years. It is heaviest around six months. If your baby suddenly starts to drool more than usual and is unhappy or has a fever, see your health-care providers. It may be a sign of an infection.

A) Describing drooling

Drooling happens when saliva, also known as spittle, leaks out of the baby’s mouth. Babies drool because they haven’t yet developed the ability to use their tongue to move saliva from the front to the back of the mouth.

Babies start drooling at one month of age when they start making more saliva. Some make more than others. The saliva either moves forward and leaks out of the mouth or moves back and the baby swallows it.

The heaviest drooling is usually around six months of age, when the amount of saliva has increased, there are no teeth to hold it in the mouth, and the mouth is often open.

Drooling will decrease as the baby learns to control the amount of saliva in the mouth by swallowing and as the teeth create a dam. Drooling usually stops at the age of two years.

Drooling has no relationship with how the baby is fed.

Teething may result in increased drooling but not all studies have found this effect (Macknin 2000; Massignan 2016; Wake 2000).

B) Abnormal drooling

If your baby suddenly starts to drool more than usual and is unhappy or has a fever, please consult your health-care providers. This may be a sign of a severe infection of the mouth or throat.

References

Macknin ML, Piedmonte M, Jacobs J, et al. Symptoms associated with infant teething: a prospective study. Pediatrics. 2000 Apr;105(4 Pt 1):747-52
 
Massignan C, Cardoso M, Porporatti AL, et al. Signs and Symptoms of Primary Tooth Eruption: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2016 Mar;137(3):e20153501
 
Wake M, Hesketh K, Lucas J. Teething and tooth eruption in infants: A cohort study. Pediatrics. 2000 Dec;106(6):1374-9