Most parents of newborns are on the lookout for thrush, the white spots in a baby’s mouth that indicate a type of yeast infection requiring anti-fungal medicine to resolve. Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by an overgrowth of “candida albicans.” According to mayoclinic.org “Oral thrush causes creamy white lesions on the tongue and inner cheeks.”
Thrush is common in babies, and when a breastfed baby becomes infected with it the mother will experience symptoms on her breasts as well. Including: unusually red, sensitive, cracked or itchy nipples. Shiny or flaky skin on the areola. Unusual pain during nursing, and stabbing pains deep within the breasts. Thrush can affect bottle fed babies as well, and in this case you’ll only have the ability to look for signs in your baby’s mouth because you won’t be equally infected.
When you spot creamy white spots on the tongue, you may be apt to call your doctor immediately. Before you do though, you should know that there is something called “Milk Tongue” and while it resembles the thrush infection, it is harmless in babies.
What is “Milk Tongue?”
Milk tongue is simply a layer of milk that’s attached to the tongue itself. This is caused because young babies don’t produce enough saliva to clean the mouth before the teething drool-fest begins. There is usual a clean stripe at the tip of the tongue. This layer can be wiped away with a clean damp cloth (hint: Thrush can’t be wiped off). It is a sign that your baby has a shallow latch on the breast or the bottle. This could be caused by a tongue tie. It is harmless, but I can understand the concern. So I’ve listed in the graphic below the differences between thrush and milk tongue. I hope you find this helpful!!
As always, if you are unsure of whether your baby has thrush contact your medical provider. As a doula, none of the information I provide should be considered medical advice. You know best whether your infant needs to be seen and you should always follow your intuition.
Have a wonderful day