Drooling – Young Children

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My 3-year-old son drools a lot. He had his tonsils and adenoids taken out recently. How can I get him to stop drooling?

Kids drool a lot during the birth-to-three time frame. It’s very hard to say if this is a problem or not at this point, unless he has other significant developmental delays. Kids who drool too much do not swallow often enough. They also don’t keep their mouth closed when they shouldn’t have it open. Your child probably got in the habit of keeping his mouth open because of his enlarged tonsils and adenoids, but now that they are gone, he can learn to keep his mouth closed.

Teach him to keep his mouth closed when he is not eating, talking, or singing. Tell him, “Close your mouth”. But don’t nag him all day long, or he will tune you out. Encourage him to keep his mouth closed during certain very short time frames – like while you are reading him a story. Praise him for doing it during part or all of the story. I also might encourage him to swallow more often with little sips of water now and again throughout the day.

If you do eventually see a specialist, I would go to a speech-language pathologist, or an occupational or physical therapist, who knows how to do feeding therapy. That therapist should be able to teach him how to swallow better and more often.

For additional help and ideas, please see my book How to Stop Drooling.

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