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She may look cute but she's drooly

She may look cute but she's drooly

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.”

“MY 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.

The cover of my book, Why Babies Do That

The cover of my book, Why Babies Do That

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Tags: drool, excess saliva, infant care, saliva, Why Babies Do That

Comments (16)

I love that your eight-year-old had to remind you about your own book. Ha-ha! Just goes to show how incredibly crazy life with a baby, a profession, a husband, and several other kids can be. .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..When Dreams Become Reality .... =-.
Jennifer -- This brings back so many funny and damp memories. I'd almost forgotten. .-= Ruth Pennebaker´s last blog ..Splitting “Hair” =-.
Well I totally sympathize with you. I can't remember a thing from any of my books. Whenever I do interviews, I have to have that particular book in front of me. It's as if when I write it down on paper, it completely leaves my head.
Lovely post, drool and all. :) But go Athena! She's gearing up to be quite a publicity manager for your book! .-= Meredith´s last blog ..The 5-Question [Author] Interview: Hope Edelman =-.
Someday maybe you can return the favor and remind Athena of things when she has her own baby...
This was so funny! I loved the Derrida bit. Also: those plump cheeks!
I heard that baby drool is magical. At least, that's what my mom told me whenever my little brother drooled on me and sent me screaming into the bathroom looking for a towel and some Windex. .-= Stephanie - Wasabimon´s last blog ..Food Blogger Spotlight: Clotilde Dusoulier =-.
Or, as it also says in Webster's American Dictionary: To show gushing appreciation! She could be just happy to be here. Who knows? Funny how droool sounds just like what it is.
Oh, Jennifer, not just anybody can blog about parenting and manage to artfully interweave references to folks like Kant and Derrida. . .
I'm moving to Portland and my mom bought me this very wonderful bright yellow rain coat (like the Morton Salt girl?) and some very cool bright yellow rain boots to go with them. You could borrow them if you want :)
We joke about our 12 week old's drool as proof that she is related to her "brother" - our mastiff, also a drooly mess. I'm taking it from every side these days... Always good to hear that someone else is dealing with the same :) .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..HILARIOUS! =-.
That's exactly what I need Miki! Portland is a wonderful city. I live five hours south of there (where it does not rain nearly as much. Except on me. With the drool...) I think you'll like it. .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Cornell For High School Students =-.
Mama Em, we often talk about getting a dog (a subject my husband and I revisit at least twice or three times a year) but the drool factor is one thing that keeps us from taking the plunge. Also, I wipe so many tushies I can't imagine picking up after a dog. And then there's the fact that both James and I are allergic to most breeds! I did tell the kids, though, that if they can keep the house clean for six months, we would get one. Since we can't keep it clean for six minutes, I don't think there's any real chance that a dog is in our family's future! .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Cornell For High School Students =-.
I'm glad I'm not the only one, Brette, with short term and long term memory ... shall we say challenges?! ... when it comes to what I've written. But since you've published more than 30 books and I've only done four, I think you have a better excuse than I! .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Cornell For High School Students =-.
Sam (now 8) used to drool like a maniac when he was a baby -- I carried him constantly during the first year, and I remember thinking it'd only be a matter of time before I started mildewing... :0)
Nathaniel cut his first tooth at 4 months, and was definitely drooling at the three-month mark. Oh, I miss drooly babies.
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