It is important to regularly clean the baby’s mouth to keep it healthy. Even though babies drink only milk and water, oral hygiene for the baby is still as important as it is for adults. If you have a baby, you’d probably notice that your baby’s tongue is white or has these white patches on the surface. This can be either of two things – they’re either just milk residue, or thrush.
How do you know if it’s just milk residue or thrush?
Wet a clean cloth with clean warm water and then wrap it in your pointing finger. Using the cloth, gently try to remove the white coating or patches on your baby’s tongue. If they are easily removed or wiped off, then they’re only milk residue. Just clean the tongue thoroughly but gently and make sure you do this regularly to keep the baby’s mouth clean.
However, if the white patches can’t be removed, or when you are able to wipe a spot off and you see a red or bleeding surface underneath, then it might be thrush.
Baby’s thrush is caused by the fungi candida albicans. Thrush manifests as white patches or spots, like milk curds, in the baby’s mouth. It can be on the tongue, gums, inside the cheeks, and the roof of the mouth. Although it usually occurs in two month old babies, older babies can have it too.
Thrush is actually an infection which can be caused by several things:
- Babies have immature immune systems so their bodies are unable to resist infection.
- The mother herself has thrush so the infection is passed onto the baby through breastfeeding.
- The infection could have happened during the baby’s normal delivery.
- The mother is taking antibiotics even though she’s breastfeeding, which have reduced the number of healthy bacteria in the baby’s body, therefore allowing the fungi to spread.
Aside from the white tongue patches, another symptom of thrush would be the baby crying whenever he or she breastfeeds or drinks from the bottle.
To address this properly, see a doctor right away so that the doctor can give the baby an oral antifungal medicine. This needs to be applied to infected areas using your clean hands. The mom also has to receive antifungal treatments herself so that breastfeeding the baby won’t mean passing the infection back to the child.