Does your baby have thrush? Here’s how to diagnose thrush in babies, treat it naturally, and even prevent it from reoccurring.

Thrush in Babies: Natural Remedies that Work

While it’s normal for infants to have white-coated tongues after feeding, how do we know for sure if these white bumps aren’t in fact oral thrush in babies?

In this post, we will show you how to determine thrush in babies, treat it naturally, and prevent it from recurring.

What is thrush in babies?

Thrush, or oral candidiasis, is an accumulation of the fungus candida albicans in the mouth that causes white lesions, or sores, that look more like cottage cheese than the normal milky whiteness associated with babies’ milk tongue from breastmilk or formula.

This fungus is normally present in everyone’s mouth, but thrush in babies occurs more frequently in infants because of their weak immune systems.

Breastfeeding moms are at risk to get thrush too since the infection can pass to mom’s breast (and oppositely, mom can pass it back to baby) and cause serious discomfort and pain (btw, this nipple cream seriously helps!). Fear not– we have some awesome natural solutions for babies with thrush (and moms too!) below and even some preventative tips to avoid this bad bacteria in the first place. (source)

Baby thrush symptoms

How do you know if your baby has oral thrush? When do you start worrying? The key to identifying thrush in babies is by simply examining your baby’s mouth, cheeks and tongue very carefully and watch closely how your baby is eating. (Keep in mind that baby can get also get a form of thrush that looks like a bad diaper rash. Read more about here.)

Here’s what to look for:

  • White lesions on child’s tongue and cheeks. These can be raised spots, a super thick coating, or overall tissue irritation
  • Loss of appetite in baby
  • Discomfort in baby while nursing

The lesions in baby’s mouth can cause pain and loss of taste, so it’s understandable that baby may be fussy.

Thrush symptoms

When thrush is passed to a nursing a mom, you might find that:

  • Your nipples are unusually red, cracked, sensitive or itchy
  • You experience pain while nursing
  • Your nipples feel sore between feedings

While all breastfeeding moms know nursing can be painful at times, pain from thrush is more intense, deeper than usual, and does not go away when your baby is done feeding. (source)

What causes thrush in babies?

Your baby is fussy, your nipples are so sore you just want to live in a warm bath, and you ask yourself, “how did this happen?”

As we said earlier, the fungus or yeast that causes thrush is naturally occurring and prevalent in most people’s bodies. However, a weakened immune system can cause a yeast accumulation in babies.

Antibiotics can play a major role in this. Our bodies, and our babies’ bodies, have a natural balance of microorganisms that keep us healthy. Bacteria sounds like a bad word, but there’s good bacteria and bad bacteria and antibiotics don’t discriminate. So, when mom or baby has to go on antibiotics, this disrupts the natural flora balance and makes us more susceptible to thrush. Luckily, there are so many wonderful ways to restore our balance, which we will talk about in the prevention section below. (source)

If neither you nor baby have been on antibiotics, there are other things that can weaken your immune system, such as illness, a poor diet, being exposed to harsh chemicals or just not getting enough sleep (very common with a newborn!).

So don’t be hard on yourself! Candida is a very opportunistic yeast and will pounce if you’re run down and relying on too much sugar or chocolate to cope.

If you go to your pediatrician, they will usually prescribe oral nystatin or fluconazole for you and baby. These are antifungal options that have been proven effective.

If you are a natural mama like me and want to try to avoid these if possible, we have some excellent options for you.

Just remember, thrush happens to many new moms and babies, though one study found it occurred less in homes where there was a furry pet, like a cat or dog. It is a common occurrence (especially in breastfed babies due to the warm moist area yeast likes) and is treatable.

Natural thrush treatments

Be sure to get your doctor or pediatrician’s approval before using these natural remedies for thrush.

Probiotics found in yogurt and breastmilk are a great place to start. If your baby is too young for yogurt there are safe probiotics for infants that you can look into. My doula recommended rubbing a serving of acidophilus powder on my nipple while breastfeeding, as this benefits both you and baby and your infected areas. Keep in mind, nursing may be difficult, but if you can get baby to latch on this should begin to resolve the bacterial imbalance.

If you are a nursing mom, reducing your sugar intake is essential, as a sugary diet can make symptoms worse (another reason why some moms and midwives are not fans of nystatin, which can contain sugar in order to make it palatable for infants, but it’s effectiveness is reduced in the process). (source) Check out these nourishing meals for a new mama for inspiration!

Grapefruit seed extract mixed with distilled water is another way to combat the yeast causing thrush. Grapefruit seed extract is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound made from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit. The recommended dosage is 10 drops of GSE (where to buy) mixed with one ounce of water, which is swabbed on mom’s sore nipples and baby’s tender mouth before nursing, just like the recommendation with probiotics.

Gentian Violet is another popular natural remedy for thrush. It is an antiseptic dye used to treat a myriad of fungal infections. However, what makes this remedy unpopular is the possible side-effect of increased swelling or soreness and the fact that it does turn your skin purple.

Yes, us moms can set aside our pride easily in order to relieve our baby’s pain and our discomfort, but it is important to note that you will have purple nipples and a baby who looks like they rubbed their face in blackberries for a few days. (source)

How oral thrush is treated around the world

Sometimes, here in the United States, we focus more on pharmaceuticals than natural remedies. Here is how other countries treat oral thrush:

  • Europe: Thyme is found to be effective against oral thrush.
  • China: Many cleanse when they have thrush, which speaks to our knowledge of diet and yeast balance.
  • South Africa: Lemon juice is a common treatment.
  • Russia: Oil-pulling is a common treatment which uses antifungal oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.

Baby thrush prevention

So, now that we know some ways to treat thrush in babies, what can we do to prevent it from happening? It’s all about supporting a natural flora balance in you and baby.

Some simple ways to do this include:

  • Regularly consume fermented foods that are high in naturally occurring probiotics like like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.
  • Consider adding a good probiotic to your daily supplements. Just Thrive, BioKult and Prescript Assist are some of my favorites.
  • Eliminate junk food, sugar and soda from your diet
  • Keep your natural sugar intake low (even fruit). No more than 2-3 servings a day.
  • Include antibacterial and antifungal foods regularly in your diet such as: garlic, herbs like thyme and oregano, raw coconut oil and butter, black cumin seed oil (where to buy), raw pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • If you or baby ever have to go on antibiotics, take a probiotic too (at least 4 hours away from the antibiotic dose)

For garlic consumption, some moms love roasting cloves and spreading on toast. You can also make some of my pistachio pesto. Or simply throw some minced garlic into a veggie stir-fry or salad dressing. The key is to have regularly to reduce your chances of getting thrush or of thrush recurring.

Did you or your baby have thrush?

If you have any thrush remedies that worked for you, let us know in the comments below! Bottom line: You can tame thrush in babies (and in yourself!). It just takes some diligence, discipline and determination. You’ve got this, mama!

References

  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oral-thrush/basics/definition/con-20022381
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26214300
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27042008
  • https://www.drugs.com/mtm/nystatin.html
  • https://www.laleche.org.uk/thrush/
  • http://drjaygordon.com/breastfeeding/thrush.html
  • http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-4397/gentian-violet-topical/details#uses
  1. These are awful suggestions! Neither GSE or Gentian Violet are non toxic options!! Research before following this advice! Much better options are coconut oil, yogurt, and white vinegar!

  2. Thank you for the great info!
    My almost 8 months old daughter has had a very bad diaper rash for over a week. I finally understood it was yeast. But today I also saw a little white patch on the inside of her upper lip, by the lip tie. I also have been under the weather for two days. My nipples were a little bit itchy and are a little more sensitive than usual. All this makes me think we have thrush… My baby doesn’t seem bothered by the patch in her mouth though. But tonight, while nursing, I experienced some pretty painful “stabbing” pains. It stopped after nursing.
    I got us started on probiotics, i am taking care of my immune system and am going to slow down on sugar.
    I am pretty desperate about her rash… I feel like nothing, nothing is working. It makes me feel terrible. Her skin is shedding a little bit. She is so red. I read that that can be related to thrush. I put some colloidal silver gel and did a lot of naked time today… I am feeling so bad about all this!

    • In the same point with my little man (3 months) I have him and I both on probiotics he has had a rash for a month but not a bad one just two little spots but I knew it was yeast. I am now trying to dry it up wit ACV with water 50/50 of each. And yesterday I noticed his tongue in the way back was white( he is also tongue tie) I have no issues with my nipples but heard if we the moms have over active yeast baby will get it. I’m going to try and get an enzyme today to help balance everything out. Good luck momma!

    • Vic’s vapor rub! I’m telling you give it a shot rub your baby down in and her sleep fully covered in longer sleeve clothes with socks too and you’ll see next morning the improvement

    • And for us moms athletes foot powder spray knocks it off real quick just spray some a couple times a day over your entire breast

  3. Thanks for the info..i’m worried for my 9mos son for now he has a big sore in his mouth w/’c likely made him so fussy when I breastfeed him..at times specially after feeding, i observed that as if he is sucking his tongue in and I also experienced having pain after feeding him, im confused if it bcoz I have less milk or I have thrush in my nipple too? And our pedia had prescribe nystatin before, can I let my baby take the med after being opened fir almist 4mos?

    • Definitely talk to your child’s provider if there are open sores in his mouth.

  4. We just left my baby’s 9 month appt and the doctor prescribed nyastin. Since a about 3 weeks old, my son has had a white coating on his tongue only and nothing on his cheeks or my nipples. We’ve gotten contradicting advice on it being milk tongue vs thrush. Neither of us are in pain (he doesn’t act it). I am so hesitant to use the nyastin but doc said I should get it treated if it’s thrush. Anyone else have a similar experience?

    • If it’s not hurting it’s not thrush. I dont understand why they don’t simply take a sample and test it to know for sure. But if it’s thrush it would hurt and your baby would be crying.

    • My 8 week old baby has had the same thing written above, she dosnt seem fussy nor in any pain and my nipples also arnt effected.
      We have been to the doc and she told me to get that cream which I have been popping on my nipples before feeds twice a day, when I use it my baby starts being very sick after that feed with a few too many vom’s and runny poo so I stopped using it and really want to find a natural remedy as that cream is not suiting us.

  5. We have now had thrush SIX times… I feel like I have cut a lot out.. I took probiotics at one point and it didn’t really change. We have done nystatin, gentian violet, I have had diflucan… My husband read about putting lavender oil on my toothbrush.. But now I am starting to think that it is supposed to go on the affected mouth’s toothbrush. My daughter is six months and I bought DoTerra lavender- would that be safe to do like a drop on her toothbrush or not?
    Any other recommendations? We have tried Grapefruit seed extract, I am not sure if that helps… Also, we were using the Medela steam bags for my pump parts- pumping to build a stash- and binkies. The pediatrician told me to boil at a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Do the steam bags not work as well?
    Thank you!

    • Do Not Use Essential oils in you or your babies mouth!
      I’m a qualified and experienced aromatherapist and I’m sick of doterra telling people you can put essential oils in your body via ingestion. They are not trained aromatherapists and clearly do not know what they are talking about.
      If you are not allergic you can dab lavender on affected area (not in mouth) be sure to wipe clean nipple before feeding then reapply after feeding. X

    • Agree 100% with above! Essential oil usage internally should be done ONLY under the care of someone who is trained to give such advice (not an MLM rep) and never for a child.

  6. My 1 month old baby have thrust in his tongue, and someone said I should use red oil to rub it, and another person said I should use ink. What should I do?

    • It’s NATURAL for breast feeding baby to have a white residue. Just wipe/clean mouth and everyday with water and cloth. If baby cries inconsolable then it’s thrush.

  7. Useful info … I was treated for 3 weeks with meds and baby 2 weeks and after not even a week of finishing the treatment it seems to have come back with a vengeance and as a new mom it’s VERY hard to breast feed in general, now add the pain and it’s awful 🤦🏻‍♀️But I won’t give up for my baby’s sake.

  8. regular basic hygiene too I’m sure helps. I at least imagined after smelling my wet breastpads how it must taste gross…so I’m changing more and I shower min once a day and maybe 2x. I so forget often though to change pads especially if I’m feeling cheap on buying more….i leak so much it is causing me to run through my nurse tops

    • Instead of disposable b’pads you should try the Reuseable bamboo b’pads they hold alot of moisture and feel really lovely to use.

  9. My bub had thrush from when she was 2 weeks. She is been on nilstat for 5 weeks and diflucan for 2 weeks. I am using daktarin gel for my breasts as well.Paediatrician asked continue with nilstat again for another 2 weeks. She is 10 wks now and still has thrush. It’s 7th bottle of nilstat now!!! I am really getting worried about the sugar in it. Any advice will be helpful.

  10. Thanks for all these suggestions! I am going to start with he probiotic route. How long until I should start to see some improvement?

  11. Thank you so much for this info! I think where I’ve gone wrong is a little bit too much sugar at this point! And now I know the problem, it’s just tough cutting that one out ?

  12. We have gone through two treatments of nystatin and one treatment of fluconazole. Seemed like it cleared up for a couple days and now Iran back full force. My 10 week old is so discontent, squirmy when eating, gassy, and not sleeping well. Surprisingly, he doesn’t have white patches but I’ve read that this doesn’t have to be a visible symptom. I have sharp stinging pains in my breast and my nipples are killing me. I’m strictly pumping bc we have had thrush for so long and it keeps decreasing my milk supply, I pump to ensure he’s getting a full meal. I have to sterilize everything each time, I’m so exhausted, and as of today I’m considering quitting the whole breatsfeeding thing just so we aren’t in pain anymore. I’m trying a couple natural remedies for the first time tonight: rinsing my nipples with water and 1 tbsp of vinegar after pumping. Let air dry. Then apply a paste on nipples made of baking soda and coconut oil and maleluca (Doterra). I’m going to try some of these suggestions as well. Thank you Mama natural!

    • Hopefully you’ll find some relief soon. Good luck!

  13. My baby is 2 months old and has thrush. I am bf-ing her and feel hesitant to give her anything that will ruin her virgin gut. Any suggestions for a natural remedy that I could use with someone so little?

    • Ask your provider about treating with probiotics.

      • We have been using gentian violet for almost 5 days and I feel like it’s not getting any better I did read on your post that the thrush should be causing her pain my baby is not in any pain in fact she is completely content she just has all these white patches in her mouth and the pediatrician said it was thrush but it really doesn’t bother her if she’s not crying about it I can touch it and she doesn’t care

  14. Hi,
    Thank you for the informative post. My baby is always having thrush and someone told me giving her raw tomatoes can help. Anyone tried this? I’m yet to try it.
    I would live to hear your responses.

    • How old is your baby?

      • My baby is eight months

  15. Great article. Nice remedies you advice in it. Really effective and useful. Natural remedy works superb. you solve my problem easily. I used so many medicines in trush problem but all in vain. Thanks for sharing an important information and knowledge with us. Keep sharing, waiting for your new posts.

  16. Hi Mama Natural,

    How do I clean my Little Ones fabric toys and stuffed animals that cannot go in the washing machine? He has thrush and I am trying to be extra vigilant so we will only have one case.

    Thanks in advance.

    ~Casey

    • I would suggest vinager, and a dish soap. Buy a small container of both and pour into a bath tub. This is what I do and if you let it soak they come out sparkling clean. Just put into a Landry basket with towels layed inside. Let them dry. Put all stuffies blankets fabric stuff into the washing machine and the rest wipe down with disinfectant wipes and then wipe down with a baby wipe or a warm washcloth. Hope this helps 🙂
      From one mama to another
      Mel

  17. My still bf 1 year old is battling thrush, and finally winning. I got the oral Nystatin for her, and after 2 days of administration (though it seemed to be working well) I found out about coconut oil, and of course prefer the natural remedy. So I used that instead for about 3 more days. Not seeing anymore of those pesky white patches I stopped- probably should’ve continued for a week to be safe. Because it reappeared. Now I’m swabbing her mouth 4x a day and applying to my nipples a concoction of coconut oil, GFS oil, and acidophilus, which is working well. This time I’ll continue treatment longer.
    And it’s worth noting that the yeast does show up in her diaper area as well, as small red bumps. I interchange coconut oil & athletes foot cream, even when it looks clear.

    • What is your recipe for the GSE/come close nutmoil concentration? We are going on week 2 with thrush, and it’s so close to causing us to wean. He’s 17 months, so not the end of the world, but still sad that it wouldn’t be on our terms.

  18. I have suffered from thrush and it’s PAINFUL! I have found that coconut oil works when applied directly to my nipples. Plus it’s safe for baby. In a non-natural solution, I have also found that clomitrizol works, but I hate using it because it’s not natural.

  19. I absolutely LOVE this book!! I am a childbirth Educator and labor doula as well as a doula trainer. This book will be getting suggested at EVERY.SINGLE.CLASS. I teach from now on!! Great job! So useful and down to earth! I have 30 years of experience and I am thrilled to have found this book!!

  20. Hi Mama Natural,

    Thanks for the great post and thanks for spreading the word to be more natural :)!!

    We have been fighting with trush for months now and two rounds of Nystatin didn’t help to get completely rid of it, it seems to come back right away! Now I am reading about your suggestion “Gentiana Violett”, is it really safe to use inside the baby’s mouth? There are lots of contradicting Infos online and since I really value your knowledge I am interested to see what your take is…. hope you can help as I am getting frustrated with this situation :(!
    Thanks in advance for your valuable time & greetings from Germany 🙂
    Helen

    • Yes! We use gentian violet when we get thrush and it is the quickest help! In babies mouth and my nipples. Our doctor recommended it over anything but be careful, it stains EVERYTHING!

    • My lacatation consultant told me to try this since we’re on our 2nd round of Nystatin with no luck. She said it works so much better but did say it stains everything. I’m definitely trying it!


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About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

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