How to Get Rid of Thrush in Babies' Mouths Naturally

By Ashley Ess in Healthy Feeling

If your baby seems a little fussier than usual and you notice little yellow-white patches coating their mouth, oral thrush may be to blame.

Thrush is a common fungal infection that is rarely serious. It's caused by the Candida albicans yeast and can appear in several areas of babies' mouths including on their tongues, inner cheeks, and gums. It can cause discomfort for babies, hence the fussiness.

Fortunately, though, there are a few steps you can take to keep oral thrush at bay. Read on to learn how to get rid of thrush in babies' mouths naturally.

How Do Babies Get Thrush?

Babies can contract thrush in a few different ways. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, babies are at risk for thrush when there's an overgrowth of Candida in the mother's birth canal during childbirth. This condition, also known as a yeast infection, often results from the hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy.

Babies with weakened immune systems, low birth weight, or who have had to take antibiotics for a bacterial infection are more susceptible to thrush as well. Antibiotics may kill bad bacteria, but they can also kill the good bacteria necessary to fight off fungal infections such as thrush. Certain medications such as inhaled corticosteroids can also bring about oral thrush in babies.

As Mount Sinai explains, thrush thrives in warm, moist environments, so it's important to keep the objects (and body parts) your baby comes in contact with clean and dry. Thrush can develop from nursing, for example, if the mother's nipple doesn't dry properly between feedings. Bottles, toys, and pacifiers can also precipitate thrush when they aren't cleaned promptly.

Closeup of mother holding crying infant

How Is Thrush Treated?

Left untreated, thrush can spread elsewhere in the body, such as on the scalp or on your baby's bottom. Mount Sinai explains that yeast from oral thrush can show up in babies' stool and cause diaper rash. Prevention is key, but if you find your baby battling oral thrush, rest assured that treatment is generally easy and effective, and some cases can even be managed at home once a severe infection has been ruled out.

The first step is to address the issue as soon as symptoms—such as white velvety sores or redness in the mouth—show up. Don't wait until things get worse. To determine if the white area on your baby's tongue or other area of the mouth is thrush, wrap gauze around your finger and try to gently wipe the white patch away. If it disappears, it's probably not a cause for concern. If it appears red or cracked underneath or if it bleeds, it's likely thrush, and it's time to see a doctor.

Some cases of thrush require a prescription for an antifungal medication from your child's pediatrician, while others can be soothed with home remedies that help to stave off the fungal growth. Contact your or your child's healthcare provider at the first sign of a white coating in the mouth to rule out a widespread fungal infection and to confirm whether medical treatment is necessary.

Is Thrush Contagious?

Thrush can be transmitted—but there's a caveat. Mount Sinai explains that, while thrush can spread among people, those with fully developed immune systems likely won't contract an infection. For babies, adults with impaired immune systems, those who have certain health conditions, or those who have recently been on antibiotics, thrush is more likely to develop.

When it comes to breastfeeding, though, thrush can be quite contagious. The Mayo Clinic explains that the infection may pass back and forth between the baby's mouth and the mother's breasts. When thrush occurs in a breastfeeding infant or their mother, all materials that have come in contact with the fungus need to be sterilized frequently.

It's not necessary to stop breastfeeding if you and your baby have been exposed to thrush, but it's imperative that you seek treatment right away. If you must take a break from breastfeeding due to sore, cracked nipples caused by thrush, try pumping temporarily. You can resume your normal nursing routine once the pain subsides and your thrush is properly treated. Your baby may also struggle to breastfeed due to the discomfort caused by oral thrush—another reason to seek out treatment immediately.

Closeup of baby lying on bed sucking on fingers

Soothing Thrush at Home

Be sure to get the green light from your baby's doctor before treating thrush at home. Even if they've been prescribed treatment, you can complement the medication with these two gentle home remedies to help make your baby more comfortable:

  1. Make a solution with baking soda and water. Boil one cup of water and let it cool. Then, mix in about half a teaspoon of baking soda until it's dissolved. Gently dab the paste inside your baby's mouth with a cotton swab.
  2. Try coconut oil. According to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, coconut oil has antifungal properties. Gently apply it with a cotton swab wherever thrush is present.

Thrush Prevention Tips

Focus on prevention when inquiring how to get rid of thrush in babies' mouths naturally. Consider the following to help prevent oral thrush in your baby:

  • Wash all toys, pacifiers, bottles, and other materials that your baby comes in contact with in hot water or in the dishwasher. Keep these items dry when not in use.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after diaper changes, and change your baby's diaper often.
  • If breastfeeding, wash all items that come in contact with your breasts, such as nursing pads, bras, and breast pumps. Allow your breasts to dry after breastfeeding before putting your bra back on.
  • To help stave off Candida overgrowth, consider a low-sugar diet or taking a probiotic supplement if you breastfeed your baby.

Curious about how probiotics might be able to potentially reduce or prevent certain health issues? Check out this article on the health benefits of probiotics.

You can also learn more about natural home remedies by visiting the DIY Naturally board from @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

Image Source: Pexels | Pexels | Pexels

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

Thrush is a common and treatable condition, and learning prevention tips and simple home remedies can help get both you and your baby on track to feeling better.