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How to Avoid and Treat Thrush when Bottle Feeding
The presence of thrush in a child’s mouth can be painful for the child and very upsetting for the parents. Babies who are bottle-fed are more likely to develop canker sores than those who are exclusively breastfed. However, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of developing thrush and treatment is relatively easy.
Thrush, or oral pseudomembranous candidiasis, is a superficial yeast infection that occurs in about 5% of healthy newborns. Babies usually get yeast from their mothers during their passage through the birth canal. You can tell if your child has thrush or not by looking for the telltale white patches that can be found on the inside of the cheeks, lips, palate and tongue. Many mothers who feed their baby from a bottle often mistake the remains of milk found on the tongue for thrush. If the tongue is uniformly white, it is not thrush. Areas of thrushes are often described as curdled. Unlike milk residues, they adhere to the underlying tissue. You can also test for thrush by gently touching the 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 raw, red area underneath that may bleed. Lesions caused by thrush can be painful and the baby may become fussy and squirm when bottle fed.
Why are bottle-fed babies more prone to thrush?
Many children have thrush, but it is a self-limiting condition; it goes away completely on its own without anyone even knowing that the child had thrush. However, certain changes in the child or his environment can cause an exacerbation of thrush. Antibiotics or stress could be to blame. Bottle feeding often causes canker sores because the oral mucosa is abraded with long-term sucking, such as babies who sleep with a bottle or pacifier – breastfed babies do not go to sleep at night, they still suck at the mother’s breast, unfortunately, many bottle-fed babies fall asleep sucking from bottles. Also, dirty nipples and pacifiers can harbor a yeast infection.
How to treat thrush?
First, prevention is better than cure. Babies should not be put to bed while they are still sucking on a bottle nipple. Do not let your baby suck on the pacifier for a long time. Make sure all nipples and pacifiers are thoroughly washed and sterilized.
In most cases, thrush clears up 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 such as Nystatin suspension. This can be applied directly to the plaques using a cotton applicator or given orally 1-2 ml four times a day. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. An old-fashioned and still effective treatment for thrush is baking soda. Use a cotton swab dipped in a mixture of one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda and one or two drops 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 are concerned, seek medical attention.
Babies who fuss during bottle feeding can do so for a number of reasons. If your baby is picky about formula feeding, it’s worth checking your baby for thrush. If your baby has thrush, you don’t need to change formula. Just apply the treatment described above and the canker sore should disappear within a few weeks.
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