Thrush in Babies

image001Thrush is brought by the fungus Candida Albicans. It resembles patches or spots of milk curds or cottage cheese around and in your baby’s mouth. The patches can also appear on the roof of mouth, in the cheeks, on the tongue and on the gums. Thrush is most common in babies who are younger than two-months. It can, however, appear in older babes. Thrush in infants is caused by yeast infection which babies get from their mothers. White patches start to form on the baby’s gums and tongue when the baby is infected. The infant can also start showing signs of discomfort and irritability during feeding. Most thrush cases are not threatening, as the disease in infants can be treated easily by topical antifungal medications.

What Are the Symptoms of Thrush in Babies?

Even though oral thrush is common in infants below six months, it can affect anyone. A baby infected with oral thrush may have white-like patches in the cheeks, on tongue and lips or have cracked skin on the corners of the mouth. These whitish patches resemble cottage cheese but cannot be wiped away. You should not try to scrap the patches away because it might cause bleeding.

The good thing is that many babies do not feel anything apart from a little discomfort when sucking. There are babies who might not feed well due to some soreness felt on the mouth. Babies can also have diaper rush the same time they have oral thrush and in such a case, the thrush is caused by the same yeast.

What Causes Thrush in Babies?



Yeast infection during delivery

While yeast is present in everyone’s digestive system, it causes an infection when there is an imbalance. Most infants develop their first yeast infection during delivery when passing the mother’s birth canal. Thrush can come about when there is change in hormones immediately after birth and they trigger yeast overgrowth in the baby’s mouth.


Antibiotics can also trigger thrush. This happens when you take antibiotics and are breastfeeding. Antibiotics kill the “good” bacteria, which keeps yeast away.

Yeast on mothers’ breasts

This infection is sometimes passed back and forth between baby and mother. A baby can infect the mum with thrush when breastfeeding thus infecting the nipples and this might need treatment from a doctor. A mother can infect her baby with thrush if she is taking antibiotics which end-up infecting her nipples with thrush. However, not all babies can be affected by the yeast on their mother’s breast.

Possible factors

There are some people who think that thrush can be caused when the baby sucks on a pacifier or bottle for a prolonged period. Other people think that it can occur if the bottle nipples are not properly cleaned and/or disinfected. Even so, infants who do not use pacifiers and only breastfeed can also get thrush making it hard to determine an exact cause.

How to Treat Thrush in Babies

1. Touch Your Baby’s Tongue

If your baby’s tongue has a white coating, clean your finger and gently touch it. If the patch rubs away with ease, it might just be milk residue. Thrush does not come off easily. If the thrush does come off, the area underneath will remain red and raw and might even bleed.

2. Think about Thrush First

Thrush can also cause soreness in the baby’s mouth. You can start to suspect thrush if your baby cries when sucking on a pacifier, bottle-feeds, or is breastfeeding. Thrush can also pass through the baby’s digestive system to the bottom causing nappy rush. This rush has red spots, is sore and takes some time to heal.

3. Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect that your baby has thrush, seek medical attention. Your pediatrician may recommend an oral antifungal treatment such as nystatin suspension or miconazole gel. Apply the drops or gel to the areas that have been infected in the baby’s mouth. Once you have finished applying the treatment, wash your hands to prevent spreading the thrush. The infection might take a week to clear.

4. Antifungal Treatment for You

If you breastfeed, you will also need antifungal treatment the same time as your child regardless of whether you have the symptoms or not. This prevents passing on the infection to the baby when breastfeeding.

Check out this video to find out more about how you could get rid of thrush in babies:

How to Prevent Thrush in Babies

Many babies get thrush from their mothers when breastfeeding and this makes it hard to prevent. The baby might also have picked it up during labor when passing through your birth canal. This makes it hard to prevent.

However, there are babies that are more prone to the fungus than others. Here are some tips on how to prevent thrush in babies:

  • Wash your baby’s clothes at 60 degrees to kill fungus.
  • Clean and sterilize the babies feeding equipment, dummies, bottles and any other toys you see him/her eat such as teething rings.
  • If you breastfeed, make sure that you wash your nipples with water. Next, dry the nipples before each feed.