Thrush is a yeast infection that is commonly seen in a baby's mouth. Thrush appears as whitish-gray elevated patches that look like cottage cheese or milk curds. They are found on the insides of a baby's cheeks, tongue and gums. These patches will not wipe off and may become red and raw if you try to wipe them off.

If there are many of these patches, your baby may have pain while sucking and will not drink as well.

Thrush is caused by a yeast called candida albicans. It is normal in the mouth and vagina. It usually does not cause any problems, but an illness, use of antibiotics or hormone changes can make the yeast grow and cause symptoms of infection.

Thrush may appear at any time. If it does, call your child's doctor.

Thrush is usually treated with nystatin, a liquid medication. Nystatin is placed in each cheek of your baby’s mouth by using a syringe. It should be given after feeding and as your child’s doctor has directed.

Continue to use all the medication, even if the spots are gone. Thrush should disappear after the medication is completed. Call the doctor if your baby has trouble eating or if the patches do not go away after one week.

It is important to boil reusable nipples and pacifiers for 10 minutes, and cool them before your baby uses them again. Running them through the dishwasher is also effective.

Be sure to wash your hands and the baby's hands often and well.

Mothers who are breastfeeding when their babies have thrush can continue breastfeeding, but they also need to be treated for thrush to prevent thrush infection of the nipple. Any breastfeeding supplies, such as breast pump parts, breast shells or nipple shields, should be washed and sterilized daily in the same manner as bottles and pacifiers. Change nursing pads and wash bras frequently until both you and your baby are clear of symptoms. 

Breastfeeding mothers whose infants receive preventative treatment for thrush as part of an antibiotic or chemotherapy plan do not need treatment unless their child develops symptoms.

Last Updated 04/2015