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How to Avoid and Treat Thrush when Bottle Feeding
The presence of thrush in a baby’s mouth can be painful for the baby and very upsetting for the parents. Bottle-fed babies are more likely to develop thrush than those who are exclusively breastfed. However, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of developing thrush, and the treatment is quite simple.
Oral thrush, or pseudomembranous candidiasis, is a superficial yeast infection that affects about 5% of healthy newborns. Babies usually acquire the yeast from their mother when passing through the birth canal. You can tell whether or not your child has thrush by looking for the telltale white patches found on the inside of the cheeks, lips, palate, and tongue. Many mothers who bottle-feed their babies often confuse milk residue found on the tongue with thrush. If the tongue is uniformly white, it is not thrush. Thrush patches are often described as curd-like. Unlike milk residues, they adhere to the underlying tissue. You can also test for thrush by gently touching a patch with a gauze-covered finger. If it’s thrush, it probably won’t come off very easily, but if it does, you’ll find a red, raw area underneath that could bleed. Thrush lesions can be painful, and when bottle-fed, a child can become fussy and squirm.
Why are bottle-fed babies more susceptible to thrush?
Many babies have thrush, but it is a self-limiting condition. it goes away on its own, without anyone knowing the baby had thrush in the first place. However, certain changes in the baby or in his environment can make thrush worse. Antibiotics or stress may be to blame. Bottle feeding often causes thrush because the lining of the mouth becomes abraded with prolonged sucking, such as in babies who sleep with a bottle or pacifier – babies who are breastfed do not fall asleep at night and continue to suckle from their mother’s breast, unfortunately, many bottle-fed babies fall asleep while sucking on a bottle. Also, dirty nipples and pacifiers can harbor the yeast infection.
How to treat thrush?
First of all, prevention is better than cure. Babies should not be put to bed while still sucking on a bottle nipple. Avoid letting your child suck on a pacifier for long periods of time. Make sure all teats and pacifiers are thoroughly washed and sterilized.
In most cases, thrush will go away on its own, and the only treatment needed is to relieve oral discomfort or treat (or prevent) painful yeast diaper rash. You can use an antifungal medicine such as nystatin suspension. This can be applied directly to the plaques with a cotton swab or taken orally 1-2ml four times a day. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Baking soda is an old fashioned and still affective treatment for thrush. Use a cotton swab dipped in a mixture of a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and a drop or two of mild liquid detergent (no ammonia or bleach) mixed in a glass of warm water. Gently apply the mixture to the affected areas.
If symptoms persist or you have concerns, seek medical attention.
Babies who fuss during bottle feeding can do so for many reasons. If your baby is fussy when fed formula, it’s worth checking to see if your child has thrush. If your child has thrush, you do not need to change formula. Simply apply a treatment as described above and the thrush should disappear within a few weeks.
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