Thrush in babies: white or creamy yellow patches on the cheeks

One of the most common mouth infections, thrush appears as white or creamy yellow patches on the inner cheeks, tongue or the roof of the mouth. It makes the baby’s mouth sore and feeding becomes painful.

Thrush

Thrush [Illustration by Shiju George]

If you notice thrush in your child’s mouth, contact a doctor immediately.

Causes

It is caused by a yeast that resides in the mouth and intestines and is normally kept under control by bacteria. But, sometimes it multiplies out of control, producing rashes. In some cases, it spreads through the intestines and causes an inflammation around the anus resembling a nappy rash.

Management

You can clean the thrush patches by giving your child some water to drink after every feed. This washes the milk in the mouth and gives the infecting yeast fewer nutrients to live on. Do not ever try to rub it off, you may leave a bleeding patch.

If your baby is bottle-feeding, buy a soft nipple, clean it well and sterilise it before and after using it. If your child is breast-fed, you can continue like normal, but take care about nipple hygiene to prevent your nipples from getting infected. Avoid using soap to wash them after every feed and do not wear breast pads.

If your nipples are sore or develop white spots, contact your doctor.

If your child has already been weaned, take care about the food you serve. Avoid warm food. Try to serve cooled soups and drinks often. Solid food could be mashed or cut very small to make eating easier. Do not give fruit juices, since they are too acidic.

When you are checking your child’s mouth, do not get fooled by the off-white colour on the inner sides of the gums where the upper molars will appear.

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