Oral thrush – babies 

Introduction 

Advice for breastfeeding mothers

If your baby has oral thrush and you're breastfeeding, it's possible for your baby to pass a thrush infection to you. This can affect your nipples or breasts and is known as nipple thrush.

Symptoms of nipple thrush include:

  • pain while you're feeding your baby, which may continue after the feed is finished
  • cracked, flaky or sensitive nipples and areolas (the darker area around your nipple)

You may be prescribed an antifungal cream, such as miconazole. You should apply the cream to your nipples after every feed, and remove any that's left before the next feed.

Antifungal tablets may be recommended for severe nipple thrush.

Read more about how your baby’s oral thrush can affect breastfeeding.

Oral thrush is a common and usually harmless fungal infection in the mouth. It mostly affects children under two years of age.

The main symptom of oral thrush is one or more white spots or patches in your baby's mouth. The patches can look like curd or cottage cheese.

Other symptoms include:

  • refusing the breast or fussiness at the breast when you try to feed
  • a whitish sheen to their saliva

Read more about the symptoms of oral thrush in babies.

Treating thrush in babies

Many cases of oral thrush clear up in a few days without the need for treatment.

If symptoms persist or they are particularly troublesome, ask your health visitor for advice or visit your GP.

There are several antifungal gels that can treat oral thrush. It is important to speak to your GP or pharmacist before you use them as some gels are not suitable for very young babies.

Read more about treating oral thrush in babies.

Why does my baby have oral thrush?

Oral thrush is caused by a strain of yeast fungus called candida albicans, which lives on the skin and inside the mouth of most people.

It doesn't cause symptoms usually, but it can cause an infection in people with a weakened immune system. As the immune systems of newborn babies are still developing, they are more vulnerable to infection.

Read more about the causes of oral thrush in babies.

Who is affected

Oral thrush is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 20 babies.

It is most common in babies around four weeks old, although older babies can get it too. Premature babies (babies born before 37 weeks) have an increased risk of developing oral thrush.

Page last reviewed: 20/04/2012

Next review due: 20/04/2014

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