Why it is important to clean your baby tongue? Maintaining a baby’s health and hygiene, also include emphasizing their oral health. The tongue should be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure the risk of infections caused by fungus, bacteria, or germs is reduced. Although, a lot of tongue related issues in newborns, especially mouth thrush are very common. Newborn babies are particularly at an increased risk of mouth thrush because their immune system is not developed completely and so the resistance to fight infections is low.
In pre-schoolers and school going kids, tongue cleaning is an unavoidable process. They tend to eat a lot of sweet food items, such as candies, chocolates, etc. Hence, it is necessary to remove food particles from the tongue. Tongue cleaning should be practiced at least once or twice a day accompanied by flossing and brushing to prevent bacterial accumulation.
I usually stick to home remedies for my little one. And, so even for tongue cleaning, I prefer simple and basic cleaning techniques (just like my grandma). I am sharing 3 ways in which you can clean milk or just about anything from your newborn’s tongue. Even with an infant or a toddler who doesn’t really know how to rinse their mouth, these tongue cleaning methods can be quite useful.
3 Best ways to clean your baby tongue:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Now, take a piece of sterilized gauze, cotton or washcloth and soak the edge in a glass of lukewarm drinking water. Wrap it (gauze, cotton or cloth) around your finger and gently put your finger inside your baby’s mouth. Wipe the upper and then the lower gum pad as well. The ideal time to do this is when the baby is playing or in a happy mood. It is recommended not to clean your baby tongue immediately after the feed.
2. Cleaner or soft-bristled toothbrush
You can also opt for a gum cleaner. Avoid using fluoridated items like a baby can ingest it. You can also use an infant’s soft-bristled, moistened toothbrush, which is available in the market. Besides, you can also buy it online. However, this toothbrush should not be used to clean a newborn’s tongue.
3. Sterilized earbud
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Now, take a sterilized baby earbud, and dip it in a glass of lukewarm drinking water. Now, gently roll it to clean your baby tongue. Wipe the upper and then the lower gum pad as well. Be sure not to insert it deep in the mouth, that is- towards the end of the tongue/mouth. Stop exactly at the premolar point. Also, be sure to have a tight grip on the earbud.
What is mouth thrush?
Oral mouth thrush is a fungal infection (yeast fungus called Candida albicans which also causes diaper rash) in the mouth that is particularly common in newborn babies, infants, and toddlers. It is usually harmless and easily treatable. According to National Health Services, UK, around one in every 20 newborn babies are affected by oral thrush, rising to around one in every seven babies in the fourth week of life. After this, the chances of your baby developing thrush will gradually decrease.
How do you get to know that your little one has oral thrush? Well, if you see a white coating on your baby’s tongue, and white patches elsewhere in the mouth which look like a stain left behind after having curd or cottage cheese and usually cannot be rubbed off gently, and your baby is not wanting to be fed (because their mouth is sore), then it is more likely to be a mouth thrush.
Oral thrush is also very common in babies who have recently been treated with antibiotics which tend to reduce the levels of healthy bacteria in the baby’s mouth. This gets them exposed to having high fungal levels on the tongue.
When to get alarmed?
It is not a serious condition, however, if you feel that the white patches aren’t going even after tongue cleaning or the baby has a sore throat, poor feeding habits that are getting worse over a period of time, then it’s best to consult your pediatrician.
Top tips for babies with mouth thrush:
1. Make sure to sterilize soothers, toys that your baby puts in their mouth
2. Make sure to sterilize feeding bottles and other feeding utensils immediately after the use, especially the teats
3. Parents or caretakers should also wash their hands thoroughly after the diaper change
4. Nursing mothers should also maintain top health and hygiene. Thrush in the nipples of the breast can also expose the baby to the fungus
Disclaimer: Each baby is different from the other. Some babies can get irritated during the tongue cleaning procedure. In such cases, it is important to visit your pediatrician to learn effective solutions for this problem. Also, it is recommended that you don’t give any anti-fungal medication to your baby without consulting their doctor.
Information source: Nhs.uk