Oral Thrush in Babies - Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Oral thrush in infants, which is more common at about four weeks of age, may occur more than once. It usually clears by itself, but there are ways to avoid and/or treat it.

baby head
Close up of baby's head.

Oral thrush in infants, which is more common at about four weeks of age, may occur more than once. It usually clears by itself, but there are ways to avoid and treat it.

What Is Oral Thrush?

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Oral candidiasis. (2022, September 18). In Wikipedia

A yeast or thrush infection happens when the mother and the baby's natural flora and bacteria have become imbalanced.

Is Oral Thrush Contagious?

A baby with oral thrush can infect a mother during breastfeeding; this is why the mother and the baby must get treatment together, even if one of them is not showing any signs of thrush. This is to prevent reinfection.

If a mother has a yeast infection on her breasts or nipples, she could infect her baby.

Learn more about the treatment of thrush.

Learn more about the symptoms of thrush.

The Symptoms of Oral Thrush in Babies

  • Some babies with oral thrush may not have any symptoms of oral thrush.
  • Cottage cheese-like substance inside and around your baby’s mouth and tongue. The patches may bleed if rubbed off. They may appear as a rash too.
  • An infant with oral thrush may be uncomfortable while breastfeeding due to pain in and around the mouth.
  • Oral thrush in infants may cause a clicking sound while breastfeeding.
  • A baby's thrush symptoms may include cracking at the corners of the mouth.
  • Thrush in a baby may cause whitish saliva.
  • Extra fussiness and irritability.
  • Increased dribbling.
  • Breast refusal.
  • Poor weight gain.
  • Nappy rash.
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Baby putting his fingers in his mouth.

How Do Babies Get Thrush?

Causes of Oral Thrush in Babies

  • If a mother has a vaginal thrush infection during birth, her baby may become infected when they pass through the birth canal.
  • The use of antibiotics by the mother and the baby can sometimes cause an oral thrush infection.
  • The mother can infect the baby if she has thrush (yeast infection) on her breasts and nipples.
  • Premature babies, unfortunately, have less mature immune systems and are, therefore, more prone to getting a thrush/yeast infection.
  • Unhygienic conditions can also cause a thrush infection. The mother should clean her baby’s mouth with a disposable cloth or clean, wet finger instead of keeping a face cloth, which can grow germs and fungus.
  • Oral thrush is common in babies with diabetes due to elevated sugar levels in their bodies.
  • Babies with HIV/Aids are more likely to get thrush infections due to the suppression of their immune systems.

Treatment of Oral Thrush in Babies

Treatment of Oral Thrush in Baby

If the oral thrush does not clear by itself after a week...

  • Nystatin Suspension is often used to kill the fungus that causes thrush. A doctor will usually prescribe this as an oral treatment for infant thrush and a cream for a mother's breast.
  • The mother and the baby need to be treated, so they do not pass the thrush to one another. Using Nystatin will usually clear the oral thrush infection within two weeks.
  • A thrush treatment like Miconazole is a standard treatment that can be bought over the counter without a prescription.

Natural Treatment for Oral Thrush in Babies

  • Coconut oil for thrush: You can put pure, raw, virgin coconut oil on your nipples and in your baby’s mouth to prevent passing the infection to one another. This has been found to clear some yeast from the mouth but should be used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Gentian Violet: Can be used on the mother's breasts and in the baby's mouth. This is the best natural cure for thrush but it is very messy. It stains the clothing and the skin.

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Prevention of Oral Thrush

How to Prevent Oral Thrush in Baby

  • Sterilize all dummies or teethers.
  • Sterilize all bottles and teats before use.
  • Sterilize all pump parts daily.
  • Use disposable wipes when cleaning your baby’s mouth.
  • Rinse your breasts with clear water after breastfeeding.

If the oral thrush keeps coming back, a mother should seek the advice of her physician.

Causes of Yeast Infections While Breastfeeding and Foods to Avoid