As it turns out, the little guy has Thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection, and apparently this is another one of those super common things that babies get that I had never heard about before having a baby – and it impacts both the mother and the baby.
How does a baby get Thrush?
From the information I could find, it turns out that what typically happens is the baby gets the yeast infection and then passes it along to the mother when breastfeeding (not the other way around). Alternatively, if the mother develops a yeast infection on her nipples that is triggered by antibiotics (they kill the good bacteria that control the yeast), then the baby can get it from the mother, too. It is apparently not due to hygiene (like if you think it comes from unclean pacifiers).
Symptoms / Identification of Thrush
For the mother, symptoms include:
- Painful nipples (burning or shooting pain sensation, especially when feeding)
- Pink or red, sore nipples
- Nipples can crack and bleed
- Sometimes skin can be flaky
For the baby, symptoms include:
- White on the sides of the mouth (primarily)
- White on the lips
- White on the tongue is apparently just milk residue, so relax if you only see white there, it is normal (and it is not Thrush)
- Fussing while eating (meaning the mouth is sore from Thrush)
- Red, clear defined rash that has “ridges” in the butt crack (I don’t know the scientific name for the butt crack, so we’ll leave it at that) – key note is that Thrush is NOT white in the butt like it is with the mouth.
- if the baby has this, it means the yeast infection is passing through the intestinal tract
Since it is a yeast infection, there is a real risk that the baby and mother will pass it back-and-forth to one another. So, you’ve basically gotta treat both of them at the same time. Many resources online say it will clear up on it’s own if it is only in the baby who has it for a few weeks, but if you are past that point, here’s what you do:
Treating the Baby
- Wash and sterilize everything the baby has put into his mouth (yes, at this age, that means basically everything he has)
- Wash the baby’s hands a lot using soapy water
- Dip the pacifier in mineral water occasionally (I think the key ingredient in there is Sodium Bicarbonate – NaHCO3, so make sure the water has it in it)
- you can also wipe the water around the mouth with a cotton swab
- There are some anti fungal medicines that you can get from a doctor – they would prescribe them to you and advise on what is best. The most common is Nystatin, and you can give it orally to the baby, or put some on your nipples to treat both you and the baby.
- If it has migrated to the diaper area, there are a lot of things you can do, but the main message is be as clean as possible and make sure the baby butt has time to dry (like have some diaper free times during the day)
Treating the Mom
- Wash all bras
- Air out your nipples (seriously, give them some solid “free time”)
- Make sure your breast pads are not keeping the moisture in – chances are that they are, so it is a good idea to stop using them for a while
- Do whatever you can to keep your nipples dry after feeding
- If it does not clear up using natural remedies, go to the doctor, and they will get you the right medicine. As I mentioned above, the most common is Nystatin, which comes in an oral (for the baby) and a cream (that you would put on your nipples)
There are a billion places to look for info about Thrush, but there are 3 Resources that I like more than others:
And there is also an interesting WikiHow article about getting rid of Thrush.
The little guy has had Thrush for maybe 1 week now (a few days before we knew what it was, and now for a few more days after we started dealing with it), and he is looking much better. There was 1 day that he was not quite himself – a little tired, did not want to eat, etc. – but it could have been the sickness that me and my wife had. Nonetheless, it seems to go away for the baby relatively easily with the right routines, but maybe for the mothers it is a bit more of a process. I was surprised to hear Thrush is so common, but I guess there is no reason I would know about babies getting yeast infections when I did not have a baby, right? And it’s awesome that there are a lot of resources out there to help in identifying and treating these things. I guess that’s how it is in the “information age” – we google, go online, read what others write, instead of calling our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and so on. I wonder how it will be when our little guy has kids of his own – where will he turn to for information like this?