As parents there are certain behaviours that are acceptable and even expected when our children are young infants, but that are cause for concern if they continue as our children become toddlers and preschoolers. Drooling is one such behaviour. A drooling infant is very common and is something we expect our children to grow out of. BUT, what if s/he doesn’t stop drooling? When does drooling become a problem? Are there ways to reduce drooling in our children?

Most professionals agree that drooling is acceptable up to 2 years of age or when teething is coming to an end. After this age, we do not expect to see children drool excessively or uncontrollably as saliva production slows down. Saliva is necessary for various functions, including speech and eating; however, excessive saliva production and drooling can have negative effects in a variety of areas.

Parents can work with their child at home to reduce the amount of drooling. The following tips may be beneficial (depending on the cause of the drooling):

  • Take away the pacifier or limit pacifier use to nap time and bed time
  • Encourage your child to use a sippy cup or drink from a straw instead of using a bottle
  • Teach your child about the difference between a “wet” face and “dry” face
    • Use a mirror to help him/her understand what you are talking about
  • If drooling is excessive, have your child wear a sweat band on his/her wrist so that s/he can be in control of cleaning up drool
  • Provide positive feedback to your child when s/he is controlling drooling

Written by: Carolyn Davidson, speech-language pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.