This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Please seek appropriate advice from your health-care provider.


Baby with Thrush

I had helped many new moms deal with thrush in their newborn babies, but I’d never had an infant of my own who had thrush … until baby number six.

The pregnancy was healthy, but stressful for many reasons that I won’t get into here. I struggled with symptoms of yeast overgrowth toward the end of the pregnancy and had a vaginal yeast infection when I went into labor.

Then just a few days after Baby was born the thing that I had hoped would not happen happened. Thrush bloomed and Baby was a thrushy mess. His mouth and his diaper area were inflamed and sore - and I had thrush in my breasts.

I knew that if we didn’t get this remedied quickly in both of us simultaneously, we’d be ping-ponging it back and forth for a long time.

At every diaper change, Baby got ‘the works’. I would give Baby a drop of Oregon grape glycerine extract, a drop of very dilute tea tree oil (one drop of tea tree oil in 15 mL of water), a drop of echinacea extract, and ¼ capsule of acidophilus/bifidophilus mixed with a few drops of breastmilk.

I took an adult version of ‘the works’ four times each day.The protocol I used was one-quarter teaspoon echinacea extract, one drop of tea tree oil in two oz of water, one capsule of acidophilus/bifidophilus, and one tablet of high-potency, odor-controlled garlic.

Here’s a hot tip for administering supplements orally to new babies - never put the supplement on their tongue. Always put it inside their cheek. Babies prefer the taste and texture of breastmilk. There isn’t a herbal concoction anywhere that tastes or feels like breastmilk - so by putting it in their cheeks, they don’t get slammed with such a different taste, and they won’t gag on the texture.

What can cause thrush?

Pregnant women tend to be more acidic, which encourages a candida overgrowth, aka yeast infection. If mom has a vaginal yeast infection during labor and delivery, as the baby comes down the birth canal he is exposed to the candida that mom is carrying and gets a solid, up-close exposure. In short order, the baby will have all the typical symptoms of thrush.

Another way thrush may develop is if antibiotics are administered to the baby or the mom (if mom is breastfeeding). This can upset the delicate balance of the biome of the mucous membranes and allow thrush to develop.

Thrush tends to be more common in bottle-fed babies since most formula does not contain probiotics and often contains refined sugar. Breastmilk, on the other hand, adjusts to support the baby’s immune-response needs. It is important to remember, though, that thrush can be easily passed between the baby’s mouth and the mom’s nipples in breastfeeding couples.

Symptoms of thrush in babies

The most commonly recognized symptom of thrush in babies is the appearance of white plaques on the baby’s tongue and on the inside of his cheeks that resemble curdled milk. When the mom tries to clean her little one's mouth out, she finds the 'curds' don't come off. When the baby has oral thrush, he can pass this infection to his mom via her nipples.

Mom will know to suspect she’s developed thrush in her nipples if there is soreness, redness, and flakiness of the nipple. If it gets severe, it can lead to cracking and bleeding nipples, too.

The second, and somewhat less recognized symptom of thrush in babies is the bum rash. A thrush bum rash will often rash, blister, and bleed almost as soon as feces hits the diaper. This kind of violent rash can also be the result of 'ammonical diaper' or food allergies.

An even less recognized symptom of thrush in babies is an obviously hungry baby who only fusses at the breast. Thrush in the mouth makes the mouth sore and makes it difficult for the baby to nurse effectively.

Possible treatments for thrush in babies

Dr. Lendon Smith recommends giving the child 100 - 200 mg of vitamin C daily, and in addition, the mother should take 1000 mg of vitamin C daily if she is breastfeeding. Additional nutrients for the child, according to Smith, should include 25 mg of each of the B vitamins, 10,000 - 20,000 iu of vitamin A, and acidophilus. (Adelle Davis states that thrush is more common in vitamin A-deficient babies.)

Acidophilus should be administered orally. Just open the capsule, mix the powder with breast milk (or water), dip your finger in, and let Baby suck it off your finger. (Wash your hands really well before and after this to prevent the spread of thrush.)

There are other herbs, in addition to the ones I used, that work against thrush as well. You don’t need to use all of these, and should not use all of them at once. It is best to consult with a herbalist who has experience working with babies and nursing moms, and who can suggest safe and effective amounts to use.

Echinacea extract, sometimes found in combination with goldenseal, is an excellent and time-proven option for helping a wee one to throw off a thrush infection.

Bathing the baby (and letting him play) in a small bath of white oak bark tea or goldenseal root tea will soothe and help heal the sore bottom.

Aloe vera gel rubbed gently, but thoroughly, onto the baby's bottom can help to heal the sores very quickly. Cloth diapers work well for healing thrush diaper rash for most babies, as the diapers are breathable and it is much easier to detect when they need changing. When possible, it is a good idea to let the baby have some 'bare bum' time each day to make sure the bottom is well aired out. One doctor I know of has even recommended drying freshly washed little bums with a handheld hair dryer to ensure thorough drying with good air circulation.

Symptoms should begin to subside by day three of consistent administration of the herbs. Therapy should continue for at least 10 more days to make sure the yeast problem is taken care of.

Medical doctors often will recommend treating the mouth sores by swabbing them with gentian-violet or nystatin liquid. Gentian-violet is a very messy drug, that has a purple-staining color, that destroys the fungus cell membranes, which causes the loss of essential elements and causes the cells to die. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend administering liquid nystatin orally.

Thrush should never be allowed to get so out of hand that medication is needed. If this problem is addressed at the very first symptoms, it can usually be dealt with very quickly and easily (and Baby will thank you for your speedy attention to the matter, too.)

If you'd like help dealing with your baby's thrush naturally, give me a call (403-850-5503) or use this link to schedule an appointment. Appointments can be held in-office or over zoom.




Davis, Adelle, Let's Have Healthy Children. Signet Book, Scarborough, Ont., 1981.

Davis, Elizabeth, Heart & Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, Ca., 1987.

Griffith, H. Winter, Complete Guide to Pediatric Symptoms, Illness & Medications. The Body Press, Los Angeles, Ca., 1989.

Griffith, H. Winter, Complete Guide to Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs. The Body Press, Los Angeles, Ca., 1990.

Smith, Lendon, Feed Your Kids Right. Dell Publishing Co, Inc., New York, 1979.

Weed, Susan S., Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ash Tree Publishing, New Canaan, Conn., 1986.