Even after months of preparing for your baby to arrive, every new mom or dad will need some help along the way. Often parents naturally rush to the worst conclusions if they notice unusual changes in the first few months because it’s generally better to be safe than sorry. However sometimes the oddest symptoms have a simple fix. If you notice your baby is a bit more irritable or uncomfortable around feeding times, check his/her mouth for white patches as they can be an indication of Thrush. Thrush or Candidiasis is a type of infection caused by a yeast called Candida. This bacterium already naturally occurs throughout the body and is only problematic when an overgrowth occurs in a certain area. In adult women this is the same bacteria that is responsible for vaginal yeast infections. For babies a similar overgrowth can happen in the mouth, most commonly from the time they are born to the next few months. Most babies don’t feel anything at all, but others may develop a sore mouth or have trouble breastfeeding. 

What Can Cause Oral Thrush in Your Baby?

Research suggests that thrush appears in infancy more frequently because during the first few weeks or months after birth a baby’s immune system is still unable to fight off infections. Oral thrush is commonly found after the use of steroid medications or after a course of antibiotic treatments. This is because the antibiotics kill the good bacteria that keep Candida overgrowth at bay. The mother also could have passed along the Candida during birth through the birth canal. Yeast thrives in warm, moist conditions so if pacifiers bottles and especially the mother’s breasts are not cleaned and dried well after before and after, yeast may be encouraged to grow inside the child’s mouth.

How to Know If Your Baby Has Thrush?

Not all babies react the same, but you may notice both behavior changes during feeding and/or a thick white coating either on the tongue, throat or cheeks. It’s easy to mistake this for milk residue but unlike breast milk it will not easily wipe away. These white, velvety sores may be accompanied by other symptoms like excess redness in the mouth, diaper rash, and fussiness during mealtimes.

 If you have noticed these symptoms, there’s no need to don’t panic, treatment of thrush is usually simple.

Ways to Treat Thrush

Thrush is actually very common and easily treatable. Your pediatrician will likely prescribe an antifungal to be directly applied inside the mouth. It may be helpful to apply with a soft sponge brush. I should sit on the white patches for as long as possible, so you will want to apply it a good amount of time before feedings. The infection should begin to clear within a few days. In addition to prescribed medicines some parents have found the following home remedies to be complementary to primary treatments.

  • Add a half a teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of boiled and cooled water. Soak a cotton bud in the solution and gently wipe on the inside of the mouth.
  • Use 1 or 2 drops of tea tree oil to half a cup of boiled, cooled water and apply with a clean cotton bud.
  • Virgin coconut oil has been touted as a good alternative to prescriptions since some strains of resistant Candida bacteria are emerging.

While in some cases oral thrush can clear up by itself check with your pediatrician first about anti-fungal treatment and before using any home remedies for your baby’s thrush.

Oral thrush in babies can be hard to get rid of, especially if you’re breastfeeding, partly because it’s easily contagious and can be spread back and forth between mom and breastfeeding baby or even shared bedding or utensils. Take care to treat the mother’s nipples at the same time if necessary. You may also want to throw away expressed breast milk that you have stored in case it was contaminated with yeast. Newborn babies are often unpredictable, and although there will surely be other worrying moments as you continue through parenthood, thrush shouldn’t hold you back for long. With the help of your healthcare professional and some of these preventative measures you and your baby will be back to growing and learning together in good spirits.

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