If your baby is extra fussy during feedings and you notice white patches in their mouth, your baby may have an oral yeast infection known as thrush! But not to worry, thrush is very common in infants and is easily treated.
WHAT IS IT?
Thrush is a type of yeast infection that typically appears as white, irregularly shaped patches or sores that coat the gums, roof, sides and tongue of your baby’s mouth. Fussiness during feeding or when sucking on a pacifier (baby starts to suck, then turns away in pain) could be another sign of thrush.
HOW DO BABIES GET IT?
Since thrush is usually picked up at birth, it's most common in newborns and babies under 2 months. Older babies can also develop thrush if they've been taking antibiotics to fight another infection (which kills off the "good" bacteria that keep yeast in check) or have a depressed immune system.
Thrush can also develop if Mom's nipple is not properly dried after feeding and yeast grows and causes an infection. Pacifiers or bottles can also cause the insides of baby’s mouth to be overly moist, which provides the perfect environment for yeast to thrive.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BABY HAS IT?
White patches can be a sign of thrush — or they can simply be caused by milk residue, which often stays on a baby’s tongue after feeding but usually dissolves within an hour. To tell whether or not your baby’s white tongue is caused by milk or thrush, try to wipe it off gently using a soft, damp cloth or a gauze-covered finger. If the tongue is pink and healthy looking after wiping, no further treatment is necessary. If the white patch doesn't come off very easily, or it does and you find a raw, red patch underneath, it's likely thrush, and you should contact your pediatrician.
IS IT CONTAGIOUS?
If you're breastfeeding, then chances are your baby isn't the only one that yucky yeast is feasting on. Yeast infections are passed back and forth from baby's mouth to mom's breast during nursing (and then back and forth again if both members of the breastfeeding team aren't treated). Symptoms of nipple thrush include extreme soreness and burning, along with a pink, shiny, itchy, flaky and/or crusty appearance. There may also be sharp shooting pains in the breast during or after feeds.
HOW DO I TREAT IT?
Since thrush is easily passed back and forth, it’s best if both you and your baby get treated. For your baby, your pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal medication, which is applied topically to the insides of the mouth and tongue (be sure to get it on all the white patches in your baby's mouth) multiple times a day for several days.
Depending on your baby's age, the doctor also might suggest adding yogurt with lactobacilli to your baby's diet. The lactobacilli are "good" bacteria that can help get rid of the yeast in your child's mouth.
If your baby keeps getting oral thrush, especially if he or she is older than 9 months old, bring this to the pediatrician's attention because this might be a sign of another health issue.
If you have nipple thrush, your doctor will likely recommend that you apply a prescription antifungal cream to your breasts as well.
Oral thrush is a common infection in babies, but you can help prevent it:
- Regularly clean and sterilize pacifiers, bottles and breast pump parts that touch your nipples
- Allow your breasts to completely dry between feedings to prevent the growth of bacteria
- Change nursing pads after feedings
- Wearing cotton bras that don't trap moisture and wash those bras frequently in hot
- Since antibiotics can trigger a yeast infection, they should be used only when needed — and that goes for both you and baby
- Store milk and prepared bottles in the refrigerator to prevent yeast from growing
Source: What to Expect