Victoria М/Fotolia

How Do Babies Get Thrush? It's A Pretty Common Infection

Ad failed to load

Parenting is one of those things where you learn a lot on the job because there's no instruction manual that comes with babies (unfortunately), and through the course of parenting, you're often faced with a ton of confusion. Infant feeding, breastfeeding, sleep, development, and growth are among the things you encounter within baby's first year, and that doesn't even factor in the possible illnesses or medical issues. Illnesses in babies can be a trying experience, and some of the more common ones, like thrush, are often confusing to identify. So how do babies get thrush? And what is it exactly?

Thrush is a very common yeast infection in babies, according to Kids Health. It's caused by an overgrowth of yeast called candida. Most people, including babies, have a natural amount of yeast in their mouths and digestive tracts, which is considered normal. Its growth is usually controlled by a healthy immune system and "good" bacteria in your body. If your immune system is weakened or undeveloped (like in babies), this yeast can overgrow and cause an infection, like oral thrush (in the mouth), vaginal yeast infection, or diaper rash.

There is no real, identifiable cause for thrush, according to the website for Dr. Sears. But it can sometimes be brought on by using antibiotics (often to treat a bacterial infection). Since antibiotics work by killing bacteria, even the "good" bacteria, yeast is left to grow unchecked, causing it to often overgrow.

Ad failed to load

A baby with oral thrush might have cracked skin around their mouths, and white patches on their lips, tongue, or inside of their mouths, noted Kids Health. It may look a little bit like leftover milk, but usually can't be wiped away. It may even turn red or irritated when you try to clean it. Some babies may not feed well or are uncomfortable when sucking because their mouth feels sore, but some babies don't feel any pain or discomfort at all.

In breastfeeding mothers and babies, thrush can be passed back and forth from baby's mouth to mother's breast, and the yeast can start to infect the skin around your nipples, the website for Dr. Sears mentioned. It usually starts off mild, but can cause serious pain, especially when nursing. If your nipples are sore, red, itchy, or burning, or if you have deep, shooting breast pain, it could be thrush.

Ad failed to load

Thrush can also present as a diaper rash in babies — it's usually identified by a stubborn, red, raised rash with red spots, and can accompany oral thrush.


Your pediatrician will be able to diagnose thrush by examining your child and their symptoms. Your primary care provider would be able to do the same for you if you suspect thrush on your nipples. Thrush is typically treated by antifungal creams or antibiotics, depending on the location and severity of the infection, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Ad failed to load

Most thrush infections are better within two weeks. But, as noted by the AAP, thrush is prone to be chronic, and reccurences are very common. It's important to be vigilant about staying on top of it, particularly if you or your baby are more suseptible to getting thrush.

Probiotics (like acidophilus) can help sustain the good bacteria in you and your baby's mouth and gut, especially during a course of antibiotics. Talk to your doctor more to understand how this works, and if it is an option for your family. Sterilizing bottle nipples, pacifiers, and any toys that baby chews on can help to kill the yeast residing on them, and sterilizing regularly can prevent it from returning. Keeping your baby's skin as dry and clean as possible, particularly their diaper area, can help to prevent thrush infections, as well.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills