Why Is My Baby Choking On Saliva? Uncover The Causes

Why does my baby choke randomly? This phenomenon happens to both babies and adults.

If you’re just woken up from your sweet dream and suddenly start coughing and gagging one day, you’re experiencing it. But what about your little one?

There are two main ways to explain the situation of a baby choking on saliva. It’s either him having difficulty swallowing the liquid down or that there is an excessive amount of it.

Whichever causes these situations is something you should pay full attention to fix. Scroll down our post, and see which one fits your case.

What Are Some Symptoms Of Baby Choking On Saliva

Baby Choking

Saliva’s Role

Though your baby chokes on saliva due to an excessive amount of it, its role is extremely important.

Drooling takes great responsibility for important functions of your little one’s growing process. Here are some of them:

  • Once your babies’ diet consists of solid foods, this liquid will be the main assistant to help moisten and soften these hard things.
  • Keeping their mouth moisturized.
  • Aiding them in swallowing.
  • Cleaning up food residues.
  • Protecting their “newborn” teeth.

Also, this liquid in our mouth can turn starch into sugar, neutralize the acid in our stomach and help us digest better. Many studies point out that our teeth will soon decay without it.


Some popular symptoms your babies may experience:

  • Gasp for air
  • Unable to talk or breathe
  • Wake up gagging or coughing
  • Wake up choking with clear saliva that forms bubbles.

These indicate that certain health problems have weakened the swallowing muscles, making them unable to function properly, so your infant chokes on saliva.

It’s even clearer if they haven’t eaten or drank anything before but still show those symptoms.

Why Does A Baby Choking On Saliva? Some Tips

Infant reflux, teething, swollen tonsils, abnormal swallowing, or even allergies can be the recipe for baby choking on saliva.

You can rest assured if this occurs once in a while. Yet, when things happen more frequently, it’s time to consult the doctor.

Neurological Disorders

This term is for those with nervous system problems. Many problems regarding this can happen when a child is born.

Spina bifida can present, birth injuries, loss of oxygen or blood flow to his brain, anything can happen.

In an attempt to prevent the above from happening, some parents have therapy with them right after the mother gives birth to give more medical attention.

If not, they will intervene in the feeding and movement functions, causing long-term effects in the long run.

These disorders vary in types and surely in symptoms, too. But you might see some common signs as follows:

  • Low or high alertness, lethargy, irritability
  • Feeding problems
  • Physical mobility difficulties
  • Developmental delays
  • Abnormal movements or seizures

Once you catch these signs from your little one, you should take him to the doctor as soon as possible to diagnose if anything is going on with him.

The expert will then perform a neurological exam with medical procedures, including checking his reflexes and muscle tone. There might be some MRI or ultrasound tests included.

Sleep-Related Abnormal Swallowing

This one describes how saliva flows to one’s lungs, causing aspiration in babies while they’re sleeping. The situation will force them to wake up choking and gasping.

Sleep-related abnormal swallowing may be in connection with obstructive sleep apnea.

To put it simply, OSA happens when you can’t breathe during your sleep because the airway is blocked or too narrow.

This specific case requires treatment that helps the patient, your child, in this case, breathe in his sleep.

The doctor might utilize a CPAP to aid the function, ensure continuous airflow, or make him use an oral mouth guard that keeps his throat open while sleeping.

Either method should be done by the professional – the doctor – you shouldn’t try to do this independently without the doctor’s advice.

Swollen Tonsils

The tonsils are the small glands on both sides of one’s throat. Their responsibility is to shield the body from getting infections.

When they are infected or inflamed, people call the symptoms tonsillitis. It can be the flu or cold viruses that cause the condition or bacterial infection.

A newborn baby younger than 2 years old doesn’t usually suffer from this. If he does, it will only last for 3 to 4 days. But the thing is different if the cause is bacteria.

These swollen tonsils will make your kids find it hard to swallow with their sore throats. They may even experience slight fever, tiredness, sick feeling, tummy ache, earache, headache, coughing, or a loss of voice.

The clearest symptoms of their swollen tonsils are baby excess saliva choking, crying all the time, agitated, and not being willing to have their meal.

Why? Because it’s how they communicate about their medical conditions when they haven’t been able to describe them in words yet.

Infant Reflux

Kids do spit. It’s a common thing and not something to be so worried about.

But if your baby keeps choking on spit from time to time with other symptoms of vomiting, it’s a sign of infant reflux (or acid reflux).

The term indicates how the stomach contents of your infant travel up to their esophagus and throat. Besides spitting and vomiting, the following can also be seen:

  • Drooling a lot
  • Irritability
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Refuse to eat
  • Wheezing or gurgling sound after feeding or while drinking
  • Sudden and painfully crying
  • Poor sleep, wiggling excessively, back arching from pain
  • Coffee-grounds-like, green or red spit-up

In those cases, try the following tips:

  • Burp the baby more often
  • Thicken formula or breast milk
  • Check the nipple or bottle size
  • Get rid of sleep positioners
  • Feed the baby upright
  • More frequent feedings


Teething is on the list of what causes frequent choking on saliva. Babies will start teething as soon as 3 or even 14 months of age.

About 2 to 3 months after that, their first tooth will appear.

You can refer to this timeline, not counting teeth coming in wrong order:

  • 6 to 10 months: 2 front teeth in the bottom
  • 8 to 12 months: 2 front teeth in the top
  • 9 to 13 months: On both sides of the front teeth in the top
  • 10 to 16 months: On both sides of the front teeth in the bottom
  • 13 to 19 months: Molars
  • 16 to 23 months: Canine teeth up and down
  • 2 years: The second molars

The process will cause excessive drooling for your baby. A large amount of saliva explains why your baby keeps choking on saliva while teething.

It’s best to seek advice from your doctor if the situation gets worse over time.

Allergies Or Respiratory Problems

Is it normal for a 2 month old to choke on saliva? It depends. Once a kid has some respiratory infections or allergies, his mucus and saliva will be thicker.

These thick liquids will not travel down the throat easily and get stuck in his mouth, making your baby choking on saliva while sleeping.

The case falls to allergies or respiratory problems if that happens alongside the below conditions.

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

There are chances when your little love can have a fever. So, find your doctor for cold medication or antihistamine in time.

And remember not to dress them with tons of clothes and put on socks when the baby gets a fever.


baby choking on saliva

Treating a baby choking on saliva is not a big deal as long as you catch it on time and carry out exactly what your doctor tells you to do.

The first few years of raising a child are difficult for anyone. Then, your kid is still too vulnerable and small to tell you all about his symptoms.

You will have to watch the kid closely and pay a lot of attention.

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