The First Steps to Improving a Child’s Drooling

For many parents of children with special needs, drooling is a common yet difficult issue to address. When a child is young, it is normal for him to drool as teething stimulates the glands in the mouth. However, drooling later on in life is a bigger problem which may occur due to several reasons including swallowing abnormalities, difficulty moving saliva to the back of the throat, and instability of the jaw. Depending on the cause, available treatments range from medications and surgeries to therapy and treatments. However, it is important to receive an ear, nose and throat examination and identify the cause before deciding on the best way to improve your child’s condition.

Among parents of children with neurological conditions however, many have the same question: how can I improve my child’s drooling without using surgery or medications? To be able to answer this, as mentioned in our previous article you can’t just look at and treat one aspect of your child’s condition. Whether it’s a child’s drooling, vision or limb function, these are issues which cannot be successfully treated without looking at the child’s general condition. From this overview, you will be able to see how an impairment in one area will inadvertently cause impairment in a child’s other functions. Without addressing these issues, a child may fall into a roller coaster of compensatory functions, which will then start snowballing into a series of more serious and complex problems affecting each part of his body.

The importance of trunk control

So what are the first steps to addressing this problem? It all starts with the trunk, which is the core of the body. When looking at ways to improve drooling, one of the first areas to check is whether the trunk has developed properly. With trunk control, a child is able to gain control of his neck, thereby leading to improvements in their facial expression and facial control. By reducing tension in the neck and face muscles, it improves a person’s control of his lips, tongue and drooling, opening the possibility for other treatments, like speech language pathology, to succeed.

For these reasons, it’s important to really look at the global picture of what is happening with your child. Teach him everything, and don’t just be stuck on improving his drooling, speech or hand movement. In taking this approach and going from a general to a more specific perspective, you’ll be able to better address your child’s needs and improvements.

If you have any questions, leave me a comment down below or feel free to email me. Thanks everyone!

So what are the first steps you have taken to improving a child’s drooling?

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About the author

Natan Gendelman has written 274 articles for Enabled Kids.

Natan Gendelman is licensed as a physical therapist in Russia and Israel. After moving to Canada, he was certified as a kinesiologist and osteopathy manual practitioner. Natan has more than 20 years of experience providing rehabilitation and treatment for conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, pediatric stroke and acquired brain injury. He is the founder and director of Health in Motion Rehabilitation, a Toronto-based clinic whose main objective is to teach their patients the independence necessary for success in their daily lives.

9 thoughts on “The First Steps to Improving a Child’s Drooling

  1. Hi natan,

    Thanks for your valuable advice.Just a brief about my daughter…
    y Daughter is premature by a month and a lot of medication was done till she was 6 month old.Her all milestones are delayed ,rolling 7 month crawling 1 yr walking 22 month now she is 2.8 yr old but still walking is not 100%.Speech also 2 to 3 words…like banana ..mummy…daddy..but still she doesn’t say mummy and daddy intentionally.she can understand everything but cant express herself…can u guide us regarding this thing.

    • Hello Emili,

      Sorry for the late response. It is very hard to guide you with your daughter without seeing and examining her. In general, she needs to improve her trunk control which will lead to improvement in walking and talking. This will be achieved through properly rolling and sitting up in different variations as well crawling. Through the strengthening of trunk control, her breathing will improve (I’m not sure if your daughter has problems with breathing), which will then impact her speech. I’m sorry I can’t provide more specific advice as I don’t have enough information about your daughter.

      If you email me at with more information about your daughter’s condition, I can be of more help! Looking forward to hearing from you!

      All the best,

      Natan Gendelman

  2. Thank you for this article. I have a 2 and a half year old daughter with down syndrome who drools from her left side of her mouth. She has always struggled with a left side weakness so this does make sense. She has been walking now for about two months. We are not receiving PT services right now what can I do to help work on her core and drooling. Thanks for your help!

    • Dear Sandy,

      Thank you for your comment. My suggestion is to have your daughter roll and transition from lying down to a sitting position as much as possible. When she is crawling, constantly have her turn to each side to pick things up, look at you, or play games. This will help develop her trunk and lead to improvements in her everyday functions. I’m sorry I can’t tell you more since I don’t know your daughter’s condition specifically. Let me know if I can be of further assistance in any way. I’d be more than happy to help.

      Thank you, and all the best!


  3. Please do tell me more how I can help my son who is 5 y o. History of cleft palate, ear infections, partial adnoidectomy done, still nonverbal to this day, with verbal apraxia and on the spectrum -ppd.nos…. I would love any suggestions or help, I running on empty! Thank you, the allens

    • To Mr and Mrs Allens,

      I would love to be able to help your son as much as I can. For this discussion, ideally I would like to see him here in the clinic and have a complete description of his medical conditions and what he can or cannot do independently. From what I gather however, it is important that everything (treatments etc.) be incorporated into his daily life. For example, when dealing with speech I would choose 2-3 words which are used commonly and speak to him by repeating these words in different variations. Ask him questions, starting from simple ones that require a yes/no answer. As you do this however, try to have him communicate with you as opposed to you trying to make eye contact with him instead.

      As well, to address your son’s verbal apraxia I suggest having him develop and improve his trunk control by turning his body to face different directions in order to improve his trunk control. This will provide him with a better foundation to improve his verbal apraxia.

      I’m sorry that I couldn’t provide much assistance. Please feel free to contact me, I would be more than happy to help.


  4. Excellent article! Another confirmation which shows the importance of the knowledge that everything in the body is connected. Thanks for covering a topic that is rarely addressed in the autism community:)

    • Thank you Mary! As always, I really appreciate your feedback. Let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help. :-)

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