Oral Thrush in Babies


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After the birth of her baby, every new mother revels in the little joys of motherhood. Cuddling and cooing is a wonderful way of bonding with the baby as you watch those tiny fingers curl around your little finger. However, when you notice those tiny white spots inside the baby’s mouth, all hell breaks loose. Relax since this could be baby mouth thrush, a fungal infection which is common in babies till they are two months old.

What is an Oral Thrush in Infants?

Thrush is a fungal oral infection that is found in infants and infects the inner cheeks, the roof of the mouth and the tongue. Although it is quite easy to treat, it can cause irritation and is a cause of worry for new mothers. You may notice it when white or yellow patches begin to appear inside the baby’s mouth, particularly on the tongue, lips and the roof. It is also known to spread into tonsils, throat or the oesophagus. This infection will not have any visible effects on the baby nor is there any kind of soreness or pain.

Symptoms of Baby Thrush

The distinctive white or yellowish patches found inside the baby’s mouth is the most prominent symptom of baby thrush. Here are the symptoms or signs of thrush in babies you must be aware of:

  • A white coating on the inside of the mouth and on the tongue. The coating has a cottage cheese or thick curd kind of texture.
  • White-coloured soft lesions on the roof of the baby’s mouth, cheek insides and tongue.
  • Refusal to feed and crying while sucking
  • Patches of milk-like patches that cannot be rubbed off
  • Tiny crack at the corners of the mouth

What Causes Oral Thrush In Infants

The fungi Candida Albicans causes this yeast infection that is known as oral thrush. An excess growth of this fungus is the reason for oral thrush in infants. The following factors are also responsible for this growth in infants:

  • Oral thrush occurs when the baby comes in touch with the fungi during delivery
  • It is also caused due to hormonal changes in the baby
  • Antibiotics taken by the mother, especially when she is breastfeeding can promote thrush
  • Wrong sterilization and cleaning of milk bottles or pacifiers can cause thrush in infants

Hygienic Feeding

How to Ensure The White Patches In Baby’s Mouth Is An Oral Thrush?

Before beginning treatment, you have to ensure that that patch is an oral thrush. If you notice a similar patch on your baby’s tongue and you are able to clean it, it could be residual milk. But if these patches are seen in other spots inside its mouth and you are unable to rub it off, it could be thrush. Your baby may cry during nursing or while using a pacifier.

How is the Diagnosis Done?

Your baby’s doctor will inspect it to check if any obvious signs of thrush are present. He may rub a cotton swab on the infected area and examine it in the laboratory. If the doctor gets proof of Candida infection, he will run a culture test in order to confirm its diagnosis.

Treatments & Medication

Although oral thrush is cured on its own within a couple of weeks, in case your baby experiences discomfort, the doctor may prescribe the following medications:

1. Miconazole

This is an anti-fungal gel designed to kills the candida germs. The gel has to be applied post feeding. Ensure you follow the doctor’s instructions carefully.

2. Nystatin

These are anti-fungal medicinal drops which are an alternative for thrush in infants. Your doctor may prescribe it if your baby is unable to use miconazole.

3. Acetaminophen

This medication is prescribed when the oral infection becomes painful. Acetaminophen helps to reduce the pain considerably and the baby’s irritability too.



Since oral thrush can be passed on from the mother to the baby, she should speak to the doctor if she develops a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy. Mothers who have pain or discharge from the nipples should get themselves examined for yeast infection. This could prevent passing it on to the baby during breastfeeding. Keeping pacifiers and feeding bottles sterile can help in preventing oral thrush.

Home Remedies for Thrush in Babies

  • Yogurt for providing good bacteria
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Tea Tree oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Baking soda
  • Gentian violet

Apart from point no 1, the rest can be applied to the baby’s infected area.

Is Thrush In The Mouth Contagious?

Oral thrush in babies is not contagious and can be easily treated by use of antifungal medication. However, it makes the baby quite irritable and fussy since it is unable to feed properly. Proper care and medication can take you through this trying period for mother and baby.

Is Thrush Painful For Infants?

Thrush in infants is generally not painful but can cause some amount of discomfort to them. Your baby may be reluctant to feed and even feed intermittently due to some soreness in the mouth.

Can You Breastfeed Your Baby With Thrush?

A baby with oral thrush can pass it on to your nipples during feeding time. Although oral thrush is harmless, if the mother is infected too, she will pass it back to the baby. This can happen especially if your nipples are cracked or sore. Ensure you get treated along with the baby to keep this infection at bay.

Suggestions For Breastfeeding Mothers

  • Applying antifungal medication cream on your nipples can treat the infection. This will ensure that you and the baby do not pass it on to each other.
  • Make sure you do not apply any medicine inside the baby’s mouth as breastfeeding will wash it away.
  • If you are using a breast-pump to express milk, make sure that is properly sterilised. Immerse it in boiling water or steam for at least 20 minutes after every use.
  • Make sure your nipples are air-dried between feedings. You can also expose your breasts to natural sunshine to keep the yeast under check.

When To Consult The Doctor

While oral thrush in infants is a common infection, visit your doctor if you have confirmed its presence in your baby’s mouth. Generally, this yeast infection will clear off on its own within a couple of weeks. However, if it does not, then it is definitely time to speak to the doctor. Visit the doctor if you are unsure whether the white patches seen in your baby’s mouth are indeed signs of oral thrush.

If your baby develops oral thrush, make sure you provide it with a lot of care and comfort. Speak to your medical practitioner if you feel worried about it. If your GP has prescribed any kind of medication, make sure you are following the instructions completely. Finally, you should remember that this infection will make its presence felt for some time and will disappear on its own or through medication.

Also Read:

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in Babies
Ear Infection in Babies