How to Reduce Drooling in Infants and Toddlers

When my daughter Sophie was about 6-14 months old she drooled excessively. She went through bib after bib after bib. I knew that it was more than teething as so many people had suggested. As a Speech Pathologist I had learned that constant drooling may be an indicator of low muscle tone in the mouth. As a result I was determined to do everything I knew how to do to eliminate the drooling, knowing that low muscle tone can also affect speech intelligibility.

I planned to nurse her until she was one year old which made it easy for me to bypass the bottle completely. I weened her straight from nursing to a straw cup. Once Sophie started drinking from a straw cup and I was able to cut her straw down slowly (as I explained in my post on Pacifiers and Sippy Cups, her drooling decreased dramatically. She still drooled a little and so I decided to get her an electric toothbrush.

How the electric toothbrush and straw cup reduce drooling:

The Electric Toothbrush 2x a day can help wake up the mouth by increasing sensitivity. Increased sensitivity makes the child more aware of their drooling.

The straw cup strengthens the tongue so it is able to retract the drool to the back of the mouth to be swallowed.

The combination of the straw cup and the electric toothbrush was the solution for Sophie. I was thrilled to be able to dress her with out a bib, not to mention how happy I was about less laundry! If your child drools it may be worthwhile to give these exercises a try. Let me know if they work for you.


Heidi - Mommy Speech Therapy Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and 4 children.


69 Responses to “How to Reduce Drooling in Infants and Toddlers”

  1. Angela says:

    This is wonderful information, I wish had it back when I worked with K! Drooling was a major issue of hers for a long time (and still kind of is, at four).

  2. jg says:

    Drooling can also be caused by food allergies. This is in response to Angela, whose 4 year old K still has drooling problems. Doris Rapp’s book, “Is this Your Child” might help. Local Libraries usually have a copy. On another note (la), this site was recommended on a homeschool list. Thank you for offering it.

  3. lynda says:

    I have just come across your website. my daughter has been dribbling since birth and we can go through at least 6 bibs in a day. At 5 1/2 months she was referred to a physio for ?low muscle tone. we saw the speach therapist yesterday and we have exercises such as tapping down the side of her mouth from ear to mouth, and when feeding getting her in a supported position and finger under her chin. Reading more about low muscle tone i now realise why we had some problems with latching on while breast feeding, and was only picked up because we introduced a bottle at 5 1/2 months. Your information is very handy and will keep this in mind as she gets older. thank you

  4. Kim says:

    My son is a former 26 weeker preemie. He is now 18 months and we just started speech therapy. He doesn’t drool too much but I notice he walks around with his mouth open a lot. We were told to start the electric tooth brush and the straw cup. My son will suck on the straw if I hold it for him. But if i give him the cup with the straw he just chews on the straw. My question is how long should I work on these exercises with him and when should I start to see results?

  5. Heidi says:

    Kim,

    Your speech therapist has given you great advice. Learning to drink from a straw is a necessary skill to reduce drooling and help improve his speech. Stick with it until he can do it on his own, and then keep doing it! Don’t give in to sippy cups. When he is ready to drink from an open cup you can do that too.

    The electric toothbrush is great for increasing oral awareness. Do it at least twice a day when you brush his teeth. The added benefit is you will get his teeth cleaner as well. A win win.

    Heidi

  6. Sandra says:

    thanks to your wonderful articles my 7 month old has learned to drink from a straw and we are seeing some improvement in the drool department. Do you have any suggestions on teaching the electric tooth brush to a baby so young? All the artIcles I’ve found through Google are focused onolder kids.

    • Heidi says:

      Sandra,

      The purpose of the electric toothbrush is to increase awareness in the mouth. You can definitely use one with your 7 month old even if he/she doesn’t have teeth yet. When you introduce the toothbrush you may even start with it on the hands, then the lips, then move into the mouth. Be sure to stimulate the inside of the cheeks, the tongue and the roof of the mouth. If your baby doesn’t like the whole routine right up front, just try a little everyday until it becomes a little more comfortable. Although, if your baby is teething they may really dislike it. If that is the case, which is likely at seven months start with a terry cloth rag instead. If you allow the rag to air dry before you use it, it will be a little rougher for more stimulation. Best of luck!

      • Meghan says:

        THESE ARE WONDERFUL TIPS!
        I have a 13 month old boy. Everyone says “oh, he must be getting new teeth!”…but they don’t realize that he has always drooled like that. I always imagined there was something wrong but everone writes it off as teething. I will definatly start using these tools, starting with the terry cloth since he is cutting teeth right now. He has 4 teeth and more on their way in now. Are there any suggestions to get his speech rolling along? He does not say any words yet, still just baby jibberish.
        Thank you!

  7. prin says:

    Hello. Thank you so much for the wonderful information. I’ve been struggling with my 21-month-old for excessive amount of drooling. I will definitely try an electric toothbrush and a straw cup. Would you recommend me a good electric toothbrush for 21-month-old? Thanks again!

    • Heidi says:

      There isn’t a particular electric toothbrush that I use or recommend. Any should work fine. You may want to bring your child with you and let them pick out a toothbrush that appeals to them. There are so many fun character toothbrushes these days that really motivate the kiddos.

  8. Laura says:

    All of those information is great stuff but my question is in regard to a healthy 7year old boy. Does anyone have any suggestions as to why he would still be drooling? It’s not just a small amount. He drools from the time he gets up until the time he falls asleep. He is a mouth breather and we have seen numerous physicians at 3 different ENT offices. He has had his adenoids removed but not his tonsils. We’ve always been told the tonsils look fine. Almost 2 years ago he had his terminates (somewhere in the nose) reduced as they were enlarged and causing the mouth breathing. However since the terminate surgery there have been no results. He’s still a mouth breather and I don’t feel it’s from habit. To listen to him try to breath out of his nose is terrible sounding. He struggles! We were told after both of these surgeries (2 separate practices) that his drooling would be so much better if not completely gone. We don’t know what else to do. Eventually kids will pick on him for being different. If something is not right I want it to be fixed while he is still young. Please….any suggestions!

    • Heidi says:

      Laura,

      I wish I had an answer for you. It troubles me that breathing through his nose is still difficult for him. It makes me think it has to be something more than an oral-motor issue. I truly hope that you will meet a doctor or someone that will be able to solve this problem for your son. It sounds like you have been through a lot and you are ready for an answer. If there are any SLP’s out there that may have an idea what is causing all this trouble for Laura’s son please share.

  9. Tapping around the lips also increases awareness to the child’s mouth area. For older kids, maybe you can have him hold a popsicle stick with his lips and then slowly pull it while asking him to hold the stick as much as he can. This activity can strengthen the lip muscles.

    Chad
    Speech Friend

  10. Sarah says:

    I’m an SLP who works with EI kids. One of my cases is a two year old who drools excessively. I want to use an open cup with a straw to decrease the drooling- will cutting the straw gradually help in this case as well?

    What are your suggestions for a 7 year old who mouths/chews his clothing and drools?

    thank you

    • Heidi says:

      Sarah,

      Cutting the straw will only help if you have some kind of lip guard to prevent too much of the straw from going into the mouth. You could try making a lip guard out of a piece of that thick rubber craft paper. Simply cut a circle for the lip guard then punch a hole in it for the straw to go through. You may have to double or triple the craft paper depending on the thickness. It is also important to make sure the child is not able to slide the lip guard up and down. Using a rubber band on the underside can help to prevent it from moving. Position the lip guard so only the desired length of straw will be exposed for the child to drink from. If you do this you can use a straw with an open cup.

      For the 7 year old, it sounds like they need more oral stimulation. It is likely that they have low oral sensitivity. I would recommend an electric toothbrush 3 times a day, gum chewing, and some oral massage on the lips, cheeks and jaw. I hope this helps!

      • Ericka Moran-Bacordo says:

        I have 6 year old twins boys who are having issues with low tone(drooling, mouth staying open at rest. I used to prompt them by saying “button” to get them to close their mouth! I’m kinda getting tired of that(and the boys are too :-). I also think it’s impeding their speech!!

        I’ve heard of chewing gum, I do recall the electric toothbrush…I just happened upon this site and I’m glad I did!! Thanks for reminding me & reaffirming these therapies!

        Getting back to work!!

  11. Lisa says:

    Firstly, Thank-you so much for your information, I have certainly enjoyed reading through your stuff.
    Secondly, I wanted to ask, after reading the above I began to teach my 12month old how to drink from a straw and he has begun to use his straw cup quiet successfully and we have been brushing his teeth three times a day over the past 2 weeks.
    My question is; If his (excessive) drooling is from low muscle tone in the mouth, how long (typically) should it be till we start seeing results? (as in less drooling)?

    • Heidi says:

      Lisa,

      That really depends on how severe the low muscle tone is. Does he have an open mouth posture when he is at rest? Does he stuff food in his mouth when he eats? Does he choke on his food? If low muscle tone is the only issue and it is not severe, and you have taught him to drink from the tip of the straw successfully you should see a decrease in drooling really soon. If the drooling does not improve it is likely that he may need more exercises to improve the muscle tone, or he may need even more sensory input to improve what is likely hyposensitivity.

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks for the feedback.
        He does tend to breath through his mouth alot, or I wil notice if he’s really concentrating, although his mouth is mostly closed he’ll let the drool run out.
        He does stuff his food in, but chews great and doesn’t tend to choke on it.
        Our family GP suggested to give it a good few months, especially since it’s likely that atleast SOME of the drool can/is attributed to teething, despite the nearly 4 bips a day!
        I appreciate your blog and the information you’ve provided! And the feedback!

        • Heidi says:

          Lisa,

          I think that was good advice to give it a few months. He is just 12 months old. Keep going with the straws and the toothbrushing and after he’s finally done teething hopefully you’ll be using a few less bibs.

      • julie says:

        Hi there, I know the above is from a year ago, but I noticed an interesting comment that you made – asking if the child stuffed food into his mouth. My little boy drools a ton and stuffs food into his mouth, as well as has his mouth open almost always…. curious what the stuffing food part signifies. He knows how to drink from a straw with no problem – so not sure if that would still help if I increased his straw use?

        Let me know the above please. Thanks much, Julie

        • Heidi says:

          Hi Julie,

          Stuffing food in the mouth can result from a child that has poor tongue retraction and therefor uses the food to push the other food to the back of the mouth rather than using the tongue to do it. If this is the case increasing his straw use can be very beneficial. It is important to note that if the child is putting more than about 1/4″ of the straw in their mouth than they are actually suckling the straw and not retracting their tongue to move the liquid to the back of the mouth. Reducing the length of the straw they can put in their mouth over time will make the biggest difference. I use the spill proof straw cups to do this. I cut about a 1/4″ of the straw off every week or so until they only have about 1/4″ left in which to drink from.

          Hope this helps!
          Heidi

  12. viji says:

    i am an slp.. can u give specific exercises to reduce drooling.. and my client is having open mouth posture too….

  13. Shanna May says:

    Hello! My 22 month old daughter has a very generic diagnosis of unknown congenital myopathy was trached at 9 weeks and while recently decannulated (May of this year), she still receives all of her nutrition via g-tube. Swallowing has been an issue for her though she did not show any aspiration in her last Modified Barium Swallow Study. In the last few weeks, she has been incessantly drooling. She won’t do it all day, however. Out of nowhere she’ll just open her mouth and then not close it all day going through numerous shirts, leaving pools of slobber everywhere. We can’t figure out what’s going on! Our pediatrician attributes it to molars coming in but my mommy-instinct tells me otherwise. I’m getting a little worried. Have you worked with any patients who do not eat orally but have swallowing issues and drool on occasion? It’s really strange! She’s cognitively intact and we’ve tried reminding her to swallow. The funny thing is, she did just fine with this for the 3 months between decan and now. Thanks in advance for reading! Sincerely, Shanna

    • Heidi says:

      Shanna,

      It sounds like, while you have been down a tough road, your daughter has come a long way. You must be so happy. While I have not worked with any patients that do not eat orally I would first try stimulating her mouth by tapping your fingers all around her lips and cheeks to “wake up” her mouth anytime you notice her drooling. You may also use an electric toothbrush on the inside of her mouth brushing her tongue, cheeks, and the roof of her mouth in addition to her teeth a couple times a day. Since she is not fed orally she likely doesn’t receive much stimulation to her mouth and could use a little help “waking it up” and making her more aware of what is going on in there. This may help to decrease the drooling.

      You may also want to do some exercises to increase the muscle tone in her jaw, lips, tongue and cheeks. With a diagnosis like congenital myopathy it is safe to assume she has low tone in her mouth, and since she is still fed via g-tube she doesn’t have too many opportunities to exercise those muscles in her mouth. I would use some teething toys and have her bite and hold on the toys to increase her jaw strength. I may also work on some bubble blowing and horn blowing to increase tongue retraction and lip strength. Most importantly, I would contact a Speech-Language Pathologist to guide you safely through these exercises. Best of luck!

  14. Suzy says:

    Any tips for very stubborn babies?? My son will drink from the straw of a juice box (he is 12 months old) but as soon as you give him a proper cup with straw (with any type of fluid in it) hewill blow bubbles in the fluid or try and make me or his stuffed toys drink from it instead… He was breastfed up until two weeks ago and then we moved to bottles quite successfully, but now I’m wishing I went straight to straw cup!! He drools a lot (four plus bibs a day) and no words yet just some very long strings of baby babble, and lots of the ga/goo sound when he points to things.

    Is it better to try and go cold turkey on to a straw cup or introduce it gradually??

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Suzy,

      I’d ditch the bottles! Get a straw cup that he can’t see through so blowing bubbles will be less stimulating. Also, if you get the spill proof straw cups he won’t be able to blow bubbles and you will be able to use the lid of the cup as a lip guard. Once he gets used to the cup you can begin cutting the straw down little by little as I have described above to help train his tongue to retract. This tongue retraction will help decrease the drooling. Let me know how it goes. :)

  15. Hi all!

    Great to hear information from a professional instead of random forum ‘advice’…my 3 1/2 year old boy dribbles a lot still, to the point where he now has a rash around his mouth and on his chin which looks like it might be getting infected (ew….). I was wondering how much emotional issues and language acquisition are playing a part. We live in Spain and he is very advanced in his language, practically bilingual already (he goes to a Steiner nursery four mornings a week, which is all in Spanish). He shows me up for the number of Spanish songs he can sing, and he seems to have a very good ear for music and lyrics (I am also a singer). His teacher seemed to think it had something to do with his tongue, so (by extension) to do with his language acquisition. His father and I recently split up, after a period of fairly intense difficulty which has pretty much spanned his entire life, and I notice him drooling more when he spaces out or seems upset by things that are going on. I don’t want to have to take out his tonsils or put grommits in as some of the other forum chitchat seems to indicate! I will try the electric toothbrush – he does love brushing his teeth.

    Thanks for reading my long-winded message (should’ve written ‘neurotic mother alert’ at the top!)

    Medina

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Melinda,

      You’re not a neurotic mother, just a mom. We all worry about our kiddos and want what is best for them. Don’t beat yourself up about all the emotional stress in the home. My guess would be that it has some more to do with low tone or low sensitivity in his mouth. Let me know if the electric toothbrush helps. You may also want to try some jaw strengthening exercises like chewing gum and some lip exercises like blowing horns and drinking from straws. Doing these things frequently will help him strengthen his mouth muscles making is easier to control the drool.

      If breathing through his nose seems to be a problem for him you may want to see an ENT for an evaluation.

      I hope this helps!

  16. Jessica says:

    hi,

    I have a 4 year old and he’s always had excessive drooling. Im trying to remind him to suck up his drool when I notice it coming out. Thank you for sharing about the electric toothbrush. But now theres a red rash around is mouth. The Dr prescribed Nystatin. Is it from the drooling? It wont go away completely but it has gotten better. And when we go to fast food resturants and use their straws, the liquid comes right back out as he sucks. How do I teach him to drink right?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Jessica,

      My guess is that if your son’s rash isn’t from the drooling, the drooling is making it worse. Hopefully the Nystatin will help and with a few exercises you can get the drooling under control.

      Fast food straws (like the ones from McDonalds) are typically wider than straws from the grocery store which allows your son to suck up more fluid at a more rapid pace. It sounds like your son doesn’t quite have the oral motor control to handle the increased amount of fluid which is why it is coming back out. I would recommend you encourage him to take a single sip from the straw and then swallow it before he takes another sip. Drinking from the straw one sip at a time and then swallowing will give him more opportunities to strengthen his tongue retraction in preparation for swallowing as well as the muscles involved in swallowing. This should reduce the amount of fluid lost while drinking from a restaurant straw.

      I would also recommend that you keep an eye on him while he is eating. If you find that he is stuffing his mouth a lot when eating, he is choking on his food frequently, he chews on his straws when drinking, or he continues to loose fluid while drinking you may want to contact a speech pathologist for an evaluation and some recommendations on exercises your son can do to strengthen the muscles in his mouth.

      Best of luck!

  17. Mary says:

    Hi. My son is almost 22 months old. He has been drooling as long as I can remember. He will go through 6-8 bibs daily. It got better for awhile, but it’s a happening quite often again.

    It wasn’t until recently when my friend suggested that he may have poor muscle tone. I feel like an idiot for not even thinking it was something other than teething.

    My son says over 100 words and is now putting three words together. You can understand him for he speaks quite clear.

    He is drinking through a straw however, he does have a bottle in the morning and at night.

    I notice when he is involved in a task his mouth is open. It is as if he doesn’t realize the drool is there. I really feel like an awful mother not noticing this was a problem until my friend suggested it to me. (First time mother worries)

    Please offer some advice for me because I’m at a loss.

    Thanks
    Mary

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Mary,

      You sound like a wonderful mother doing your very best for your son. Your son’s drooling may be due to low muscle tone or it may be due to low sensitivity. I would suggest that you start with the electric toothbrush 2 times a day as I mentioned above to “wake up” the mouth and make him more aware as well as teaching him to drink from just the tip of the straw. To learn how to do this read my post “Do Pacifiers and Sippy Cups Cause Speech Delay.

      If this doesn’t seem to be enough I would recommend you contact a Speech Pathologist for an evaluation and some more exercises on strengthening the jaw, lips and tongue. Best of luck!

  18. karen says:

    my 12 month old son is a total drooler and i will def try the electric toothbrush idea. i’ve introduced straw cups to him and he’s taken to it pretty well. i first tried with breastmilk and he drank it fine. now that we’ve moved on to cow’s milk, he’s having a but of trouble. while he’s sucking it’s great, but as soon as he takes the straw out (to take a breath), half of what he sucked up is pooling in his mouth and comes flowing out! it’s only been a week or so of drinking cow’s milk in a straw cup – should i give it more time?
    i don’t really want to get into the habit of using one of those cups with a weighted straw and leaning him back.
    do you think it has to do with the cow’s milk? does he not like it as much? or is he gulping it down too fast that he’s got too much in his mouth. do you think it has to do with low muscle tone?
    are there any tips/exercises i can try to help him suck the milk up and swallow before pulling the straw out of his mouth?
    thanks!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Karen,

      Kudos to you for introducing the straw cup. It can take a little while for our little ones that are transitioning from the breast/bottle to a straw cup to learn to manage the rapid increase in the amount of fluid they intake. When you give him the cup encourage him to take a single sip, then pull the cup away and support his jaw with your other hand lifting just slightly to encourage him to swallow. Doing this several times a day will help teach him to manage the increased amount of fluid. It will also work on increasing muscle tone in his jaw, lips and tongue.

      Best of luck!

  19. Becca says:

    I’m learning so much from your site!
    My 10 month old drools nonstop, teething or not, there is no difference in the amount of drool. He is bottle fed, though I have always felt like he has a very weak latch on even a bottle. He would ONLY take the NUK nipple and still needs to lean back in order to drink. I think he needs the help of gravity? If he has milk still in his mouth when I sit him up after the bottle it is definitely going to drool out.
    It took 3 months of practice with purees for him to be able to sit up to eat them too. Now he swallows them fine sitting up in the highchair but i notice he pulls his tongue back when I’m putting the spoon in his mouth. It’s like he’s hiding it, lets the food fall into the base of his mouth and then swallows it. He has a VERY active gag reflex (originally from reflux but I believe now it is just a learned response or just extremely weak tongue since he seems to have outgrown the reflux). He refuses to put finger foods in his mouth.
    I’ve been trying a straw cup for a few weeks now. He likes it but does not suck from it. He will chew on the straw with his teeth or let me sqeeze the water/juice into his mouth. Sometimes he drools it out and sometimes he’ll drink it. I have no clue how to get him to suck.
    He does love the Nuk brush and the baby finger brush and have been using them to strengthen his tongue muscle and desensitize it. I will definitely try the electric toothbrush too.
    Any other suggestions/thoughts on what I can do to help him? How do I teach him to suck from a straw?
    I’d love any help at all!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Becca,

      It sounds like you are doing all the right things as far as teaching him to drink from a straw. It may just take a little while for it to click for him. Just continue squeezing a little juice into his mouth every once in awhile and eventually I believe he will start to suck it up on his own. Good job using the nuk and the baby finger brush. I am sure these will help with the desensitization and will hopefully lead to a lower gag reflex as well. I imagine you are already working closely with an OT or SLP. If you are not that would be my recommendation.

      Best of luck!

  20. Ira says:

    Hi,

    My son just turned two a day ago and I am extremely worried about his drooling. I took him to the Pediatrician 2 months ago and they said he was a perfectly healthy boy and that he will get over eventually. Then, I decided I wanted to take him to a speech therapist so I did and they accessed him. They told me he was fine and that he had NO speech delay and that I should just encourage him to drink from a straw and do games like playing bubbles or stamps.
    I also took him to a mouth nose and throat doctor (not sure the name in english) and she told me he was fine and that treatment for drooling was only given in very severe cases, specially when children has another underlying problem.
    SO, I am here with a two year old that dribbles and I do not know what else to do.. I just feel powerless to help him.. he drinks from a straw perfectly, he never chokes on his food, he eats very well with his mouth closed.. so I really do not know what else I can do.
    I would be so thankful if you could give me some light on the subject..

    Thanks for your help!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Ira,

      It sounds like you have seen all the right people and done all the right things and still don’t have the answers you want. I understand how frustrating that can be. I am afraid I may not be of much more help. The only other thing I can think of is that he may just have low sensitivity and he may not be aware of when he is drooling. I would use an electric toothbrush three times a day with him making sure to brush the gums, tongue and inside of the cheeks in addition to his teeth. I would use terry cloth rags that have air dried (so they are a little rougher) to rub around his cheeks and lips when you notice him drooling,really trying to stimulate them as much as possible. You may also want to try to play games with him that encourage him to hold things like a popsicle stick between his lips as long as he can. Even taping pennies on each end to increase the difficulty.

      Try these suggestions in addition to the other suggestions you have received from the other professionals you have seen and let us know how it goes. I am sure other moms struggling with this same issue would really appreciate learning about your experiences.

      Best of luck!
      Heidi

  21. Ira says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I will for sure buy the electric toothbrush and see how it goes and the other things you suggested sound fun too.

    As you mentioned I do think its correct. He seems not to even realize he is drooling. I ask him to close his mouth and he does it but then forgets. Also, some days are worse than others.. Some weeks it’s hardly nothing, I sometimes think its related to food. Do you think this could be the case?

    This problem about sensitivity, is this something that lasts forever? I just worry so much about it. Some of my friends think I am silly for worrying so much, but I can’t help it!

    Thanks again for everything and I will keep you posted.

    Ira

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Ira,

      I don’t believe the low sensitivity will last forever. I too think he will grow out of this with time. Be patient, and give those exercises a try.

      All the best!

  22. Rebekah says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I am so glad to have come across your site. I have a 17 month old who drools like crazy. He has 16 teeth and has for a while now. We are just waiting on his 2 year molars. I have always attributed his drooling to his teething but lately I have started to wonder. My mom mentioned to me recently that she thinks my little boy would quit drooling if he would learn to close his mouth. So I started reading about all of this and came across your blog. His mouth is almost always open but he has no problem eating, chewing, swallowing, etc. He was breast and bottle fed for the first year of his life and now drinks mostly from sippy cups though he has recently figured out how to drink from a straw pretty successfully. He has about 6 or 7 words which I have been told is normal at his age. It find take him a pretty long time to say mama correctly but he still does not say it a lot. Should I be worried about his speech on top of the drooling? Based on what I have read here from other moms, it doesn’t seem like he may be a severe case. I will try the electric toothbrush and we will move to using straws exclusively. He still takes a paci but only at nap and bed time. Does that encourage the drooling? Is there anything other than the electric toothbrush and straws that you recommend for me to try? If we re in fact a mild case, should we expect to see improvement within a few weeks/months? At what point should we go to the next step? Thank you for reading this and for whatever insight you can give.

    Best, Rebekah

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Rebekah,

      It sounds like you are doing all the right things.

      You may also want to try introducing “chewy tubes.” Chewy tubes are tools used by therapists to strengthen the jaw. Have your son bite and hold the chewy tube for up to 25 seconds while you hold it and give just enough resistance that he has to bite down to keep you from pulling it from his mouth. Start with one side of the mouth then switch to the other side of the mouth always biting with the back molars and never the front teeth. Alternate from side to side 2-3 times in one sitting. Practice with these for a few weeks. This will help strengthen the jaw for a closed mouth posture.

      To strengthen the lips for a closed mouth posture you may want to try blowing horns with a flat mouth piece like those recorder looking horns from most dollar stores. I hope these tips help. Please come back and let us know how it goes.

      All the best,
      Heidi

      • Rebekah says:

        Hi Heidi!
        Thank you so much for your reply. After doing more research, I decided to call my pediatrician and she agreed with my/your assessment of my little boy and he is going to an SLP on Monday! I never thought about his speech being an issue but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he is in fact somewhat behind. He really only says Dada and bye bye consistently and I have to provoke him to say the other words he knows. It is not a hearing/understanding thing. He follows all of my commands and understands just about everything I say to him. I really just think it is a matter of the strength in his facial/lip muscles. I never would have thought about all of this without reading your blog so I am so appreciative. I will definitely let you know what the SLP says and I will be recommending your blog to my friends!

  23. Connie says:

    My son has Moebius Syndrome but has a little bit of muscle control on the left side of his face. He is 8 years old and we have just adopted him from Bulgaria. We are concentrating on his attachment to us before we get into therapy for him. In the meantime I would like to start helping him develop some of the muscle control he has. He cannot drink from a straw and usually pours his drink into his mouth. Sometimes he will sip from the cup but much of it dribbles out. He has been controlling his drool fairly well and catches it most times lately, unless he is concentrating on something :) I will start using an electric toothbrush with him and trying the popsicle stick in the corner of his mouth. I would like to try a sippy cup with a straw but I need one that would require the least amount of suction. Any suggestions? Or should I try to work with one without the straw and without the valve to stop leaks? I’ve used a sports bottle but he will only squeeze that to get the water out. Your website is wonderful and has given me lots of ideas to work with him right now. Thank you.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Connie,

      Congratulations on the adoption of your son! As it has been a few months since you posted this comment I would love to hear how things are going. Have you been able to teach him to drink from a straw? I was going to recommend that you find a straw cup that you can’t squeeze, and without a spill proof valve. I would be curious to know if he would be willing to work to get the liquid out. Also, I would put his favorite drink in the cup to give him a little more incentive.

      Wishing you the best!
      Heidi

  24. Esther says:

    Heidi,

    Reading your site makes me so happy. I just read through every single message and reply. I have a 14 month old who never latched, refused baby food and spits out every piece of food he puts in his mouth. Also, he drools like crazy. I can’t believe I just read all of your suggestions and feel like I finally have some direction in helping him. Weak jaw muscles. Thank you for being so helpful and generous with your information and guidance.

  25. Cori Doughty says:

    I was very interested when I started reading this website. My son is 14 months and drools a lot. He has to wear a bib or is outfit is soaked within minutes. He was slow to try finger foods and initially would gag with textured foods. He is doing much better and no longer gags and is starting to eat more table food. After reading your website, it makes me think that some of the issues are oral motor related. I am looking forward to trying your suggestions. What kind of electric toothbrush do you use?
    Thank you

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Cori,

      I use the character toothbrushes you can buy from your local drugstore. They are inexpensive and I have found that the kids are usually more excited about brushing their teeth if it has “Thomas the tank engine” or “Cinderella” on it. Just take your son shopping with you and let him pick one out. He’ll love it!

      Hope it helps!
      Heidi

  26. Mel says:

    Heidi,

    My 28month old son was diagnosed with Autism a month ago, he started speech therapy and was also diagnosed with low jaw muscle tone. He drools allot but not to the extent where we have to change his clothes or use bibs. He still mouth allot (something to do with needing extra stimulation in his mouth) He his speech development is also way behind and I am starting to think its because of the low muscle tone, not so much the autism (might be wrong) any suggestion? Our therapist suggested chucking the bottle (which he did) using straw cups and blowing bubbles? anything else we can do?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Mel,

      It sounds like your speech pathologist is guiding you in a good direction. I would ask her to recommend more ways to give him the oral stimulation he seems to be craving like using an electric toothbrush or a nook brush regularly as well as exercises that will increase his jaw strength like biting on chewy tubes or bite blocks or even chewing exercises with different foods. Setting goals for increasing his jaw, tongue and lip strength together as well as giving him the oral sensory stimulation he needs will make a big difference.

      Both autism and low muscle tone can contribute to language delay. I’m sure they have both impacted his language delay to some extent.

      I hope this helps!
      Heidi

  27. Crystal says:

    Hi Heidi,

    My son just turned 2 1/2 years old and still drools a lot. He will not wear bibs anymore, so we have to change his shirt every couple of hours. He had a severe milk protein allergy when he was born and was put on a formula that he would barely drink. It would take him a long time to even drink a 3 oz botttle. He no longer has the allergy. From 6 months to 18 months he had an occupational therapist work with him every week to teach him how to eat because of his poor muscle tone. He is eatting just fine now, but the drooling never stopped. We’ve tried the tooth brush for stimulation and also use a straw with his cups, but nothing seems to help. Do you have any advice on what we might do for him?

    Thanks so much!
    Crystal

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Crystal,

      Great job using the electric toothbrush and the straw cups! Those will help increase his awareness of the drool and increase the strength of his tongue to swallow the drool. If his mouth is open the majority of the time, low muscle tone in the jaw may be contributing to the drooling as well. I would recommend working on jaw strengthening activities. In my experience jaw grading bite blocks have been the most effective way to strengthen the jaw. I would recommend you talk with your OT or SLP about introducing these exercises into your therapy routine. I would also recommend you start working on some behavioral training. Try to teach him to swallow his drool when you remind him, you may also want to work on teaching him to carry a tissue to wipe the drool from his mouth. I know this sounds like a stretch with a 2 1/2 year old but you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish with a little reinforcement. Get out some cheerios (or whatever treat he will work for) then hand him a tissue. Ask him to wipe his mouth, then reward him with a treat when he does. If he doesn’t initially do it on his own, help him do it, then reward him. Reduce the amount of help you offer as soon as possible. Also, vary the reward schedule. These are just a few ideas, I would recommend collaborating with your SLP for more help.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  28. Gary says:

    Thank you for this article!

    We have a lovely nearly 3 year old daughter who was very paci dependent until she was a little over 2. We recently moved her to straw cups and want to begin the toothbrush work you suggested.

    Perhaps I missed it, but do you have any recommendations of particular brands that you have had success with 3 year olds for toothbrushes? She’s improving but still drooling a lot particularly in the afternoons and right before bedtime. Otherwise healthy, talking great, and full of energy! We just need to knock out this drooling stuff!

    Thanks for your advice and what you’re doing here!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Gary,

      I don’t have a favorite brand of toothbrush. I usually recommend taking the child to the store to help pick it out. If they are excited about a particular character toothbrush they are usually more likely to be excited about using it. If the toothbrush it vibrating that’s enough for me.

  29. Abby says:

    My 2 1/2 year old drools very badly. Sometimes he will open his mouth and spit will just pour out, as if he has forgotten to swallow! He has never had any feeding problems. He is able to drink from a straw just fine and drinks from a regular cup as well. We were actually using an electric toothbrush until just recently(I had to throw them out due to strep in the household). His speech is hard to understand, but has been getting clearer in the last month. I had asked his doctor about his speech at his 2 year well visit. She suggested we wait a bit as he has very advanced motor skills and this could be why his speech was a little delayed. Any other tips you can give?

    • Heidi says:

      HI Abby,

      It sounds like you have been doing all the right things as far as using cups and straws exclusively (no sippy cups or pacifiers), and using the electric toothbrush to stimulate his mouth (a couple of times a day). At this point, I would recommend behavioral training. Meaning you may try giving him a soft cloth to carry with him in a pocket, or pinning a cloth to his shirt. When you see him drooling tell him to wipe his mouth. If he doesn’t do it take his hand and help him wipe his mouth. Teaching him to wipe his own mouth will help him become more aware of his drooling. You may also try telling him to swallow. This is great when kids can learn to swallow when asked, of course, it is harder to train then wiping the mouth since you can’t make them swallow.

      You also mentioned that your doctor recommend you wait before contacting a speech pathologist about his language delay because of his great motor skills. Depending on how delayed his language skills actually are I may have a different recommendation than your doctor. Check out my post, “Important Communication Milestones” to see if you think he is on track.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  30. Racheal says:

    I’m glad I found your blog. My son turned 9months old today and he drools a lot that I’m getting concerned now! My sisters told me that meant he was a picky eater which I’d say he is but I’m still worried and I have learnt a lot from reading all your replies and other peoples comments. He chews fine, has two teeth which cut through two weeks ago. He has always been bottle fed! He swallows just fine but every once in a while when he is full he starts to play with food in his mouth and that causes him to gag. He does chock on water occasionally when drinking from an open cup. Is it possible for me to teach him to drink from a straw cup? This is the first time I’m actually hearing about electric toothbrushes (dumb huh, blame it on my third world country). What else can I try apart from the toothbrush and the straw cup! But I’ll definately try and buy both of these. And oh, he usually has his mouth open, sucking on tongue or making out as if he is sucking from his bottle. He doesn’t have any words apart from ‘tata’ and just other baby chatter but its like whenever he speaks he just goes tatatata. With the jaw exercises you mentioned about, could you be a little more specific for me like what exactly I should do. Thanks in advance and be blest.

  31. Sarah says:

    Hi – do you know if Camelbak bottles have the correct straw mechanism for toddlers? I think my son might be more willing to drink from a straw cup if he saw me drinking from a similar cup, and I know they make Camelbaks for kids and adults. He is 16 months, drools excessively, has a mild speech delay, and we’re just starting to teach him to drink from a straw.

    Thanks!

    • April says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Any straw can work as long as the straw can be cut back so that the child isn’t suckling from it like they would with a bottle. Good luck with your son!

  32. Grace says:

    My 2 1/2 y/o grandson still drools a lot. He talks very well and has a huge vocabulary. He has advanced motor skills also. He eats well and can drink through a straw. He also swallows every time you ask him to. Sometimes it isn’t so bad and other times it’s terrible. He just started pre-school and loves it but the drooling is now going full force. He loves to count, sing songs, play games. He is so excited to be going to school but has been in Sunday school and other kids group activities for awhile. My daughter is a doctor and doesn’t seem concerned but the nanny is. I will tell my daughter about the toothbrush. Any thoughts?

  33. Grace says:

    I forgot to mention that my grandson is a thumb sucker.

    • April says:

      Hi Grace,
      It isn’t completely uncommon for children to be drooling into their toddler years. The reason why drooling can be a concern to speech language pathologists is because it can by a sign of low tone with the oral musculature, which can cause problems with feeding/swallowing/and later articulation development. Thumb-sucking can be known to encourage tongue thrust, or an immature swallow. All young children exhibit this swallow pattern when they are infants but most outgrow it and switch to a normal swallowing pattern as they grow older. Children that continue to exhibit a tongue thrust can have it contribute to future orthodontic or articulation problems. If you feel that your grandson has appropriate muscle tone with his oral muscles and that it is not contributing to his drooling, you might want to focus on his thumb sucking next. Eliminating the thumb sucking may very well help to reduce the drooling.

  34. Mea says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My son turned one last month and still drooled. Not just your regular drool but it was put him on a shirt and not even 5 mind later the entire top portion of the shirt was wet with slobber. I had to carry cloth diapers and extra bibs everwhere. I knew it wasn’t right because he had a cousin only a few months older who when turned one has stopped slobbering completely (still sucks a pacifier though.) I had weaned him off his bottle and pacifier so I couldn’t understand. I started doing some research and came across this post. Within 2 days after trying the straw cup and electric toothbrush I noticed a change. Two weeks in and we are slobber free. I just had to return and thank you.