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Why Does My 1.5-Year-Old Daughter Still Drool?

by Gail Sessoms

Your daughter’s drooling, which was cute when she was an infant, was once tolerable -- but now she is going on 2 years old and you think she should just close her mouth and swallow more often. She's not drooling on purpose, and a little extra spit is no reason to question her intelligence. The best response is to find out what is causing her to drool or make more saliva and help keep her dry until the problem is resolved.

Drooling

Some drooling is normal for toddlers, but excessive or continual drooling can be more than a nuisance. (It helps to remember that she really can't help it.) The constant wetness can cause a rash around her mouth and on her chest. The excess saliva can cause her to gag and prevent her from talking clearly. You might not want to take her out in public, but she may be just as unhappy as you about the constant leaking. She can’t tell you what the problem is, so you'll have to investigate.

Teething and Swallowing

Your toddler might just produce more saliva than other children. She is still developing her ability to swallow, so the saliva builds up and drool happens. She might not be finished teething. Her final baby teeth, called the 2-year-molars, might be erupting and causing the drooling that is common with teething. Once she finishes this latest bout of teething and her swallowing muscles are better developed, the drooling should stop.

Medical Causes

Toddlers sometimes drool because of a medical problem such as an upper respiratory infection, allergy or cold. The Coxsackle virus, called hand-foot-and-mouth disease, can cause excessive drooling in toddlers. The virus, which causes a rash, spreads quickly and easily among children under 10 years of age. Some nervous system disorders, such as autism and cerebral palsy, make swallowing difficult. Rarely, physical conditions such as large tonsils can cause drooling.

What to Do

Your doctor can determine if there is a medical cause for your daughter’s drooling. Until the problem is resolved, change her shirt every few hours. Gently pat her mouth with a soft cloth moistened with lukewarm water and apply a lubricant, like petroleum jelly, around her mouth and chin. Use an absorbent cloth, such as a towel or cotton diaper, to soak up the drool while she sleeps. And last, help her to strengthen those swallowing muscles by encouraging her to take small sips of water during the day.

About the Author

Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.

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