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As They Grow – Crush the Thrush

Adjusting to a newborn and the demands of breastfeeding is one of the most difficult stages of being a new mom.  In addition to this, having any form of illness can tip the balance and make it difficult to cope.  One of the most common infections in early infancy is oral thrush.  It has a big impact on baby’s ability to feed, and is trying for both mom and baby.

What is thrush?

Thrush is caused by a common yeast infection that inhabits the mouth.  It appears as white pasty patches on baby’s tongue, gums, inner cheeks and throat.  It can be passed between baby’s mouth and mom’s nipple, making it very difficult to treat.

How can I recognize thrush?

Sometimes mild residue on baby’s tongue may look like thrush.  If it goes away with wiping it is unlikely to be thrush.  If the residue is more difficult to remove, and the underlying area is raw and red, it is more likely to be thrush.  Babies may be fussy or seem uncomfortable during feeding when they have thrush.


It is important that both mom and baby are treated to prevent perpetuating thrush.  Your primary care provider may prescribe an antifungal cream for mom’s nipples, and a similar oral treatment for baby.  Keeping milk residue from sitting on baby’s tongue can also help as yeast likes to live on the sugar in mom’s milk.  Keeping nipples dry can also help to get rid of thrush as yeast thrives in a moist environment.


Thrush is very common and is not worrisome or serious.  It is a nuisance though, and difficult to get rid of.  Prevention by wiping baby’s tongue with a clean washcloth after feeds, which keeps residue from sitting on the tongue, can lessen the chance of having thrush.  Keeping nipples dry can also be helpful.  Avoiding antibiotics that disturb our natural protective bacteria can also lessen the risk of developing thrush.

One of the best resources for treating thrush is Dr. Jack Newman’s website.  He is our own Canadian breastfeeding guru.

The following site gives further information on his recommendations for treating yeast in the infant – mother duo so that we can “crush the thrush”. https://ibconline.ca/information-sheets/candida-protocol/

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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