Drooling Tips and Advice for Parents
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Spit happens!! Drooling is a fact of early childhood. As a parent you will become a professional spit wiper before your baby turns 2 years old. But when it is excessive it can be a worry.
As an occupational therapist I work with children who have mouth weakness and coordination problems. Here is a comprehensive list of strategies and advice that I have educated parents on to use to help their toddlers with these concerns.
- The history of a toddler's health, eating and sleeping history can give clues to what is causing the problem.
- Does your child snore like an adult?
- Is your toddler a poor or restless sleeper?
- Does he have chronic ear infections and/or tonsillitis?
- Allergies to environmental or food factors that cause upper respiratory or sinus irritation which can create congestion.
- Does your toddler keep his mouth open and hangs his tongue out?
- Does he breathe through his mouth often?
- Is your toddler cutting teeth?
- Does your toddlers have a problem chewing foods such as meats or dried fruits?
- Does your toddler still have a pacifiers? These can create a mouth posture which can either cause drooling or make it worse.
- When your toddler was supposed to mouth his hands and toys as a baby did he avoid this?
- Does your toddler still put things in his mouth(over 15-16 months)?
- Is your toddler's words hard to understand or is his speech delayed?
- Does your toddler tend to drool more when he is concentrating on activities like puzzles or art.
- Was your toddler delayed or has poor motor skills like sitting or crawling.
Now that you have been given my mommy/occupational therapist 1001 questions about your toddler's drooling history let us see what we can do to help you help him.
Activities and Advice to Reduce Drooling
The first piece of advice I have is for you to ask your pediatrician to refer your toddler to an Ear/Nose and Throat(ENT) Specialist. Medical reasons such as large tonsils and adenoids are common causes for drooling, mouth breathing, snoring and poor sleeping habits. It is always a good idea to rule out medical factors.
Think SUCK, BLOW and CHEW to improve drooling.
- Take away the pacifier or at the very least reduce it's use to just sleep. A toddler who walks around with a pacifier stuck in his mouth hurts his teeth,speech and mouth.
- Take away the baby bottle. Move your toddler to a sippy cup.
- Sucking from a straw is one of the easiest strategies to implement and achieves great results. Click here to get tips on how to teach your toddler how to use a straw.Straw Drinking Tips
- If your toddler can suck through a straw use straw sippy cups as much as you can. I say as much as you can because straw cups are not spill proof.
- Have your toddler suck thicker drinks through a straw. Yogurt,milk shakes,pudding and fruit smoothies work great.
- Have your toddler blow bubbles. Fun and functional!
- Blow whistles, party blowers and musical wind instruments like recorders,kazoos and harmonicas to strengthen his mouth and weaken your nerves.
- Blow bubbles in the bath tub water with tubing or straws.
- Have a contest to see how far you and your toddler can blow feathers,cotton balls,tissue paper or what ever(well maybe not rocks).
- Play mouth games with your toddler. Blow raspberries or kisses.
- Put smudges of food like pudding,yogurt or jelly around your toddler's lips and have him try to lick it off. If this is hard for him then first try the lip creases(sides)then go to bottom then top lip. A mirror helps here too.
- Electric tooth brushes are great for oral stimulation. If your toddler loves oral stimulation and mouths things still get him one and let him use it when he really seems to need stimulation.
- Also try to rub and touch your toddler's cheeks and lips. This is like a baby face massage not a tickle fest so make it firm. That electric tooth brush might help on the outside here too.
- Licking food from a flat surface like a plate or lid is great to help with mouth/tongue coordination.
- Play pick up "O's". Use your favorite round cereal and put them on a plate and have your toddler use only his tongue to pick them up.
- Foods that are chewy like dried fruit, breakfast bars and Twizzlers make great mouth strengthening/coordination treats.
These are fun mommy friendly ideas for you to try but if you still don't see improvement please seek outside advice and help.
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