Baby Leone has started to drool.
She drools in the morning. She drools in the afternoon. She drools in the evening. And she drools all night long.
She likes to blow bubbles in the drool.
I feel like I am covered in drool. Because I am.
She has no teeth. She eats no food. What is there to drool about anyway?
“Mommy,” her 8-year-old sister Athena tells me. “Let’s find out by looking in your book.”
“That book you wrote about baby behavior. Don’t you have a chapter on drool?”
How does Athena know these things? She’s right, of course. A few years back I spent months and months researching and writing a gift book for new moms and dads called Why Babies Do That: Baffling Baby Behavior Explained, and there is definitely a chapter on drool.
I must really be a postpartum sleep deprived soul to be quoting my own book to explain to my own self why my own baby is drooling. What can I say? Re-reading this chapter, I’m relieved to see I was neither sleep-deprived nor postpartum when I wrote it. So here goes:
A baby usually starts to drool when tooth buds form under the gums and then erupt into teeth. Their gums may appear red and swollen and, if you run a finger along the gum line, you can usually feel the bumps of new teeth growing just under the surface.
Aha! I’ll have to try that. But isn’t Leone too young to get teeth? Wait, there’s more:
Babies usually get their first teeth between four and seven months of age, though this is just an average. It’s not uncommon for a one-year-old to have a completely toothless, albeit charming, grin, and some babies are born with one or two pearly whites already in their mouths. However, long before we see any teeth in a baby’s mouth, the drooling is usually in full force.
But, I wonder, what if the baby’s drooling has nothing to do with teething? Apparently, that may also be the case (according to myself, that is. Jacques Derrida, is this post making you happy?)
Although drooling is most often linked to teething, a baby can drool anytime. Why? Whenever a foreign object is placed in the mouth, the mouth will begin producing saliva. The production of saliva is the first step in the digestive process and saliva works to break down starches into their component sugars.
I remember this from Bio 101 where the teacher made us suck on crackers and the crackers started to get sweet in our mouths. But I still don’t get why this is making Leone drool. Here’s the answer:
When adults salivate, we swallow the excess saliva. When babies salivate, they do not sense the need to swallow, and the excess saliva dribbles down their chins instead.
Thank you, self, for the enlightening explanation. Now if only I could remember to bring a spit-up cloth when we go out.