What are those white patches on my baby’s tongue and inside part of his cheeks?

Infants will occasionally acquire thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth caused by Candida) that appears as white patches on the tongue and inner cheek areas.  This is normal for infants during the first several months of life, and is usually more common in bottle fed infants.  At times thrush may cause discomfort with feeding, and your baby may become irritable with feeding.

When should I call my physician?

If you observe thrush in the mouth call your pediatrician for medicine to treat it.  Your physician will usually prescribe Nystatin drops.  Apply these drops after feeding. First wipe the formula or breast milk from the infant’s mouth using a clean gauze or wash cloth.  Next apply the Nystatin (usually one dropper full is sufficient) by coating the cheeks and tongue area, three to four times a day for 7 to 10 days.  It may be helpful to apply this medicine to the nipple of the bottle or the breast as well.  The same fungus infection that causes thrush can also cause a diaper rash, so be sure to check for this and notify your physician if observed.  Notify your baby’s pediatrician if the thrush is not improving after several days of treatment.

How can I prevent thrush from occurring?

It is difficult to prevent thrush from occurring early in life.  Your infant will make antibodies after two months of age against the Candida and this will probably help.  You can make sure the bottle nipples are thoroughly cleansed on a daily basis by using the dishwasher or by pouring boiling water over the nipples and through the nipple hole.