Before I had a reflux baby, I had a drooler.
Not the typical kind of baby drool that can be swiftly wiped away. The spurting, angry, gnashing of teeth (well gums) kind of drool that demanded permanent bibs and frequent clothing changes.
This drool was so pervasive that it caused skin irritations on the mouth and neck for several months. We assumed he was having teething issues 24/7 from a very young age, and well before his first chompers popped. As first time parents, we didn't know what to do or if it was something more serious. Looking back I should've been more inquisitive - he also had extreme fussiness and colic-like symptoms - it could have been silent reflux.
If my second child was a next-level drooler I guess I didn't notice; or it came out with his regular reflux and I was none the wiser. Or I was so foggy from not sleeping that I dealt with it and don't remember. I would later learn that drooling can be a side effect or aggravated by reflux, due to the acid burn build up at the back of the throat, and as shared in the Recognising the signs of Reflux article via BabyBoo.ie and the What to Expect Spotting and Treating Infant GERD article.
So when faced with a dreadfully drooly situation, what should you do? Is it normal development? Is it a sign of reflux or other condition? Does it require more immediate medical attention?
According to HealthyChildren.org, "Drooling and Your Baby," drool is typically a good thing for development, but there is a difference between typical drool behavior, and possible medical emergencies, such as: viral infections, windpipe issues, choking and seizure. Check the article for the full table and reference.
As far as tips for keeping baby safe and comfortable during times of drool, I recommend adequate bibs and soft burp cloths for wiping; the use of a barrier cream or petroleum jelly ointment on skin affected by rash or irritation due to the drooling; and frequent clothing changes to prevent the wetness and discomfort of the neck and chest. Drool is a mess, even when it's normal, and keep an eye on how it progresses.
As with everything shared here, and any time your instincts are saying something isn't quite right, consult with your pediatrician or GP for the official download.
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Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
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