How To Stop Thrush in Babies- And Do It Naturally

by | Feb 23, 2021

After our son was born we were both doing great! He was healthy, breastfeeding was going well, all was right in the world.

That was until he developed a case of Thrush….

Things then quickly took a turn for the worse….

Within a few days, my breasts hurt so bad while nursing him. I remember just holding him late at night with tears rolling down my face. 

Frustrated and in pain…

My milk supply dropped off without warning. Greg and I were scrambling to find a decent formula to begin supplementing so our little guy had enough to eat. 

Those were stressful days and nights, and something that I’ll be working to avoid in the future.

I’m so glad that I prepared for postpartum before it arrived! It made those days during Thrush so much more bearable. If I didn’t have my 7 Postpartum Essentials for the 4th Trimester– I don’t know what I would’ve done!

Thankfully, my story isn’t all sad. We eventually got rid of Thrush. My breast milk came back and is continuing to increase slowly.

While we still have to supplement with formula, we’re working towards being able to breastfeed exclusively in the near future. 

I tell you all of this not to scare you…

But to make you aware so that you can take preventative measures to reduce the chances of your baby getting Thrush. It’s not pleasant and it can be difficult to deal with. Especially for those who are breastfeeding.

What is Thrush In Babies?

Thrush is an oral yeast infection that is very common in young babies. 

Thrush in babies can be identified by a white substance inside the mouth that doesn’t easily rub off.

Typically on the lips, tongue, or inside the cheek. White sores can also develop if the condition worsens. 

 Luckily, this is not a serious condition- medically speaking…

Though like I mentioned earlier- it’s something that you’ll want to be aware of and try to avoid. 

We all have yeast and candida living in our bodies. However when certain bodily conditions are met -the candida begins to rapidly grow and spread. 

When this happens, it’s called a yeast infection… 

This can happen on the skin, within the urinary tract (aka UTI), or in the mouth- which is known as Thrush.

Thrush is communicable, meaning that it can easily be passed from person to person. 

If you have multiple little ones in the house make sure you address this rather quickly! The last thing you want is this spreading from child to child or from child to adult. 

This brings me to another point. Adults can get Thrush or yeast infections and pass it to their children as well….

This doesn’t always originate from children. In fact, oftentimes it can be mama who gives it to her baby!

Root Causes of Thrush in Babies

As a natural-minded parent, it’s important to understand what the root causes of Thrush are. That way- you can learn how to minimize your risk of getting it. 

When talking about Thrush in babies (and most other yeast infections for that matter)- it typically starts with an imbalance in the gut. 

Bacteria Imbalance Within the Gut

Having the correct type and amount of good bacteria within the gut is imperative to overall immune and bodily health. 

When this imbalance occurs the immune system starts to slip, and that’s when candida begins to grow. 

When too much of the bacteria- in this case, yeast, is present-  Thrush can appear.

Antibiotics & Medications

One of the biggest things that can quickly destroy your gut health, and consequently your immune system are medications and antibiotics. 

Antibiotics are meant to kill bacteria. The only problem is that it doesn’t differentiate good bacteria from the bad. 

It’s like taking a flamethrower and torching all the good and bad bacteria in your gut, leaving nothing left. 

If you or your baby have been given antibiotics, then your gut bacteria is likely not where it needs to be. 

Without ingesting more good bacteria to reset your microbiome- it can be very difficult for your gut health to improve on its own.  

Focus on supporting your gut!

Things for Mama to consider

In addition to gut health, it’s also important that Mama keeps her eye on a couple of things as well….

Keeping Breasts clean and dry

Yeast thrives in a moist, warm and dark environment. Which can be your breasts if left covered, and wet from lactating. 

Letting your boobs breathe, and keeping them dry is imperative! If you allow your nipples to harbor yeast, this will quickly be passed to your baby and pave the way for Thrush to set in.

Passing Yeast Through the Birth Canal

Another common way for a baby to get Thrush is through the birth canal. As the baby comes through the birth canal, the bacteria can be passed from mama to baby.

This is another reason why it’s important for pregnant women to work on improving their gut health- before they are due!

The goal is to reduce the number of yeast bacteria found within the body. This reduces the chances of passing it onto baby.    

Symptoms of Thrush In Babies

Thrush in babies can be a big pain in the butt. Luckily though, it can be pretty easy to spot- once you know what you’re looking for…..

Mild to medium cases of Thrush typically involve a white substance that covers the tongue, inside the cheeks and lips. 

One important thing to remember is that when baby drinks milk, the inside of their mouth will become white. This is from the milk and is not Thrush. 

To check for this, try and wipe the white color off. If it comes off easily- it’s just milk. 

If it doesn’t wipe off easily- then it’s likely Thrush!

For more severe cases of Thrush white-colored sores on the tongue or gums will appear. 

These are painful- especially during feeding!

If your baby has Thrush, is crying and you’re having a hard time soothing- this could be why… 

Symptoms of Thrush In Mama

Just as it’s important to be able to recognize Thrush with baby, it’s also important to recognize when Mama has Thrush or another form of yeast infection. 

Determining if you have Thrush or a yeast infection elsewhere isn’t quite as easy. But once you know the signs, it isn’t too difficult.

Pay close attention to your nipples. Are they cracked? Is there dry or flaky skin? If so, these are signs of a possible yeast infection on your breast. 

This is important to know, because when your baby breastfeeds- you’re passing that yeast onto them which will give them Thrush if they don’t already have it. 

Another telltale sign of a yeast infection in Mama is shooting pain during or after breastfeeding. 

This was by far the worst part for me when I had it…

Breastfeeding became so painful that I would have tears rolling down my face while I fed my little guy.

It made breastfeeding not fun, and quite frankly- I dreaded it for a few weeks until the Thrush finally passed.

Natural Remedies for Treating Thrush in Babies

Greg and I always start with the natural options first. The remedies nature provides are usually just as effective and have few if any of the side effects that medications have at the pharmacy. 

It’s important however to know when to stop and get help from your pediatrician! 

Sometimes the natural remedy doesn’t always work as fast as we need it to and taking medication is the best option- and that’s ok.

We’re fortunate enough to live in an era to still have access to most natural medicines and modern medicine if needed! 

We just choose to leave modern medications as a last resort. Not as our go-to. 

Like I mentioned earlier- the underlying root cause of Thrush typically relates back to poor gut health. 

So it only makes sense that the first treatment to look at is….

Mama’s Diet  

Hippocrates is given credit for saying “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” 

We couldn’t agree more! 

In the case of Thrush, this is very apparent. To really beat back yeast and Thrush, you have to look at diet. 

Mama’s diet should include the following….

  • Oregano: Supports gut health by supporting the lining within the gut. This helps to repair “leaky gut”. Which is something that many people have.
  • Onions: Contains helpful prebiotics which are non-digestive types of fiber. These feed good bacteria which helps them grow.
  • Garlic: Contains allicin which benefits the body the same way onions do.
  • Fermented Vegetables: Contains important nutrients and good bacteria. If you’ve taken an antibiotic in the last 6 months, or on medication currently- you should be eating fermented veggies daily. Things like sauerkraut or kimchi do wonders for your gut health!

Coconut oil (pure, raw, virgin coconut oil)  

Coconut oil has great antimicrobial properties. Place on nipples to prevent the swapping of thrush between mom and baby. 

Should be used with other treatments, like improving the diet and taking a probiotic. 

Adding coconut oil to smoothies is also a great way to get more of this healthy fat into your diet! I also cook with it daily. It has a high smoke point and is far healthier than using olive or vegetable oils.

Grapefruit seed Extract

Made from the pulp of grapefruit seeds, this extract can work well! This is something that I personally used on myself, and I noticed a difference after a few days. 

This can be applied orally if using for Thrush. Or topically is placing on nipples or another area that has yeast overgrowth. 

The extract is very antimicrobial, which is why it does a great job at killing off unwanted bacteria in places like the mouth, or your nipples.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is a known antifungal and can do wonders to kill yeast infections. 

If you’re like me and detest the smell and taste of vinegar, then this may not be for you. But if you aren’t bothered by it- then give it a try!

There are many ways to use this. You can drink it straight, add it to tea, food, or apply it to the skin with coconut oil.  

Probiotic for Mama and Baby

In addition to the things I mentioned above, adding in a quality probiotic for both you and your baby is another great thing to do.

I especially am not a fan of eating fermented foods. I just don’t like the taste. So I take a daily probiotic with my meals. 

While getting your nutrition and probiotics from food is always best. Supplements like a daily probiotic are far better than not getting anything at all. 

Adding a probiotic to your baby’s daily routine is also a great idea. 

It can be mixed in with breastmilk and formula. Or you can place it on your nipples right before breastfeeding. Either way works great!

Some formulas even have probiotics in them as well! This is another great option. 

The important thing here is to just do something to ensure you’re getting enough probiotics!

Foods for Mama To avoid

When dealing with Thrush, and candida in general- there is one important thing to keep in mind. 

Candida LOVES sugar….

Sugar causes candida and yeast to grow like wildfire!

While you’re battling with Thrush you should be avoiding these foods…

  • Drinks containing sugar
  • Sweets
  • Gluten
  • Processed meats
  • Condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce- contain added sugar
  • Fruits high in sugar- like bananas and grapes
  •  Yogurt- be very careful here. 95% of the yogurt on grocery store shelves has a ton of sugar in them. Negating any “probiotic effect” that they may advertise. If you really want yogurt- check labels carefully and go for a low sugar option! 

The bottom line is to avoid all things sugar! 

Sugar = Bad

Especially when dealing with a Thrush outbreak!

Challenge yourself to start looking at labels for sugar when you go to the grocery store. You will be shocked just how many things contain sugar in them- and the amount that they contain! 

It’s truly eye-opening….

Seriously, if we could all cut way back on our sugar intake- we would better off. 

Preventing Thrush in Babies

How to reduce the chances of your child getting Thrush is something that you may want to consider. 

Now that my son and I have gotten rid of Thrush. We’re taking some precautionary measures to reduce the chance of it ever happening again. 

Once was more than enough!

A few of these I’ve already mentioned in the treating of Thrush section. But I think it bears repeating…

1. Diet (low sugar) Antibacterial foods

Remember, the food we eat is important! It’s what nourishes our bodies. If you eat like crap, your body is going to feel and perform like crap…

Greatly reduce or eliminate as much sugar from your diet as possible. Candida, Yeast, Thrush- they all love and thrive when there is an overabundance of sugar in the body. 

Having a low sugar diet is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of ever having these problems.  

2. Wash hands, pacifiers, Toys, Breast pump

Because Thrush is so easily spread from child to child, you’ll want to make sure that you frequently wash their hands, pacifiers and toys. 

The yeast bacteria can live on these surfaces for many days. Your child could get over the Thrush only to pick it back up again from a toy or pacifier that wasn’t washed.

This next one is a huge pain- but it’s worth it I promise! 

Washing your breast pumps after every use. 

The yeast bacteria thrive on milk and any residue left on a breast pump piece will potentially harbor a ton of yeast in a short period of time.

3. Add a probiotic

As mentioned before, one of the root causes of Thrush and other yeast infections is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. 

By adding a probiotic to your diet. Whether that’s from a food source or supplement- is a great proactive step. 

Besides, there are so many other benefits of having a healthy gut. From a strong immune system to better digestion and absorption of food!

4. Wash clothes

This one may apply more to mamas- but it’s incredibly important to wash your clothes- especially your shirts and bras.

Leaking milk from your breasts is very common- especially at night. I frequently wake up with wet shirts.

As I mentioned before- yeast thrives on milk residue. It’s not a great idea to wear the same dirty shirt multiple days or nights in a row.

 Especially if you’re already fighting a yeast infection of some sort- you’ll want to make sure that you don’t wear that wet shirt again until after it’s washed. 

Key Points:

  • Thrush in babies is not a serious condition- but it is something that you’ll want to address quickly

  • Yeast infections usually start with poor gut health- so start there when looking to treat and prevent.

  • If you have used antibiotics or medications in the past 6 months, then your gut health is likely in need of help.

  • Coconut oil, Grapeseed Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar and great natural options for treating Thrush

  • Taking a daily probiotic for baby and mama is a great way to introduce good bacteria back into the gut

  • Eliminating or greatly reducing sugar in your diet is a must! Yeast and Thrush live off sugar. If you cut off its food supply, it can’t thrive!

Hi there! We're Kelly and Greg!

Hi there! We’re new parents- who are learning as we go! Realizing what it takes to raise kids in today’s crazy world, we strive to live healthier lives while finding natural alternatives to solve everyday problems. The world is complicated! Raising Them Naturally doesn’t have to be.
About Greg & Kelly Quante

About Greg & Kelly Quante

Kelly & Greg Quante are new parents and the creaters of Raising Them Naturally– a blog about preparing for and raising kids naturally! They share their challenges of parenting- and the things they’ve done to overcome them. They created this blog as a way for them to help others along the way.