Natural Thrush Remedies for Breastfeeding

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Thrush (yeast) is a common issue for breastfeeding mamas and new babies.

You may notice symptoms such as white spots in baby’s mouth, and painful nursing.

When my little boy began presenting early thrush symptoms when he was a couple months old, my doctor guided me to some natural and inexpensive remedies instead of automatically prescribing an expensive chemical-based remedy.

With some simple steps, the thrush was gone!

  • Most importantly, take your probiotics!
    You can purchase acidophilus/probiotic supplements and/or eat live-cultured unsweetened yogurt daily. The probiotic benefits will pass from the nursing mama to baby, but if your little one is old enough to eat solids, give baby some yogurt too. There are some probiotic solutions available for little ones, too, if your doctor recommends it.
  • Reduce/eliminate sugar.
    If thrush is especially lingering, you may even want to limit fruit and dairy products, as they contain natural sugars. Make sure you are getting plenty of B vitamins, too.

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  • Use a 1% solution of Genetian Violet.
    (Apply to mama & baby before & after feeding). Beware of the purple-staining factor, though; keep bibs handy! If you can only find 2% solution, dilute it by half with sterile water. I have seen this in natural food stores and in the cosmetic sections of “hispanic food aisles” in grocery stores.
  • Wash the nipple-shield (and Mama), if using.
    Use a diluted solution of 5 oz water + 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract after every feeding, and rinse well. If using a nipple-shield (with a lactation consultant’s direction), this can be a barrier to your body’s natural “self-cleaning” antimicrobial process during breastfeeding. (I purchase the grapefruit seed extract from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
  • Wash bedding, towels, nursing bras, blankets, washcloths, etc!
    Thrush is very easily spread. Even if you feel it’s a bit “obsessive,” wash all items after one use, and change to a fresh one. My no-sew cloth bed pads are can be tucked into the bed, and changed each morning (instead of changing the whole bed everyday!).
  • Get some sunshine!
    Dry your clothing/linens in the sun, which has an antimicrobial effect. If your bedroom window is secluded, mama can nap privately to allow for air flow and sun on her bare chest, which will help clear the yeast.

As an additional resource, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding offers some additional tips for addressing thrush and healthy breastfeeding.

Do YOU have any helpful tips to share?

About Michele

Michele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life in rural Washington with their two- going on three- (busy!) little ones at Hampton Creek Inn. She takes joy in the daily ministry of delving into creativity, traditional homemaking & hospitality, homeschooling in everyday moments, and smooching her husband in the woods. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola.

34 Responses to Natural Thrush Remedies for Breastfeeding

  1. therapeutic massage January 22, 2013 at 1:13 am #

    You may have opened my eyes right now with this kudos

  2. Faith April 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I found this about thrush interesting. My little girl had it once, and I used a solution of 1/2 tsp. soda (sodium bicarbonate) to a small half cup of water. They said to swab the mouth every so often, but I splashed a little into her mouth, letting her swallow it so the back of her throat gets treated too. She had quite a bit of thrush, but by doing this it was pretty much gone till the next day! You can also wash yourself off with the solution before and after each feeding. I was very blessed by it, and hope it works great for you all too!! Have a great day!

  3. Ashley-Nicole February 5, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    My 4 week old seems to have thrush symptoms in her mouth, but I do not have any symptoms or pain with breastfeeding–is this possible? Should I still do all of the washing of myself, etc. if it is possible that she has it and I don’t? Thank you!

  4. amy November 7, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I seemed to struggle with this with all 8 of my children. After my last child was born, I used goldenseal. I took it internally for 2 days. All done…..just wonderful!!! My midwife gave me a few capsules to apply to the cord stump after #8 was born. It helps to dry it out and prevent infection. It occurred to me when the thush started that I could use the goldenseal for thrush/yeast. Wonderful!!! No mess from gentian violet (we tried that with minimal success and much mess). The other issue I think that should be addressed in this is mom trying to do too much after baby is born. Our bodies are healing from having our baby and that takes a lot of energy. Something always comes up when I try to do too much after baby is born. I found that a good 4-6 weeks of doing not much other than nursing, eating and sleeping is what it takes to avoid complications ie thrush/yeast. This also helps to establish your milk supply.

  5. Joanne January 10, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    I have found that coconut oil taken orally (by the mother) to be exceptional for thrush as well as recurrent mastitis infections. It can also be massaged onto the breast. I try to take up to 3 tablespoons per day during late pregnancy and the early post-partum period with a maintenance dose of 1tbsp per day. I also reduce flour products and starchy food as well as eliminating sugar. Beet Kvass is also an excellent drink to supply probiotics into the diet.

  6. Jerene January 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    After reading all the responses I am wondering if this is what has happened with all my children. I’ve always tried breastfeeding 1st (with the help of lactation specialists) and the pain was just too much. So I’ve just fell back on pumping. Once again, I find myself in the same position. I have a newborn that I tried to breastfeed and the pain won. I am now pumping. She is only 2 1/2 weeks old. I noticed that she has thrush. I never thought of it before, but this could be the reason why it hurts for me to fed her. I am definately interested in safe remedies for thrush in baby’s mouth, my breasts, my pumping gear and my breast pads and bras.
    The main question I have is what should I use to wash the breast pumping gear and bottles with? Right now, I hand wash them with Ivory dish soap. I don’t want to use the dish washer because of the harsh dish washer soap. (Lightbulb just went off ;) , I also need a natural dishwasher soap recipe too :) )
    Thank you, I love your site. I’ve used your post-partum recipes after our God-inspired vba4c home birth (which my husband actually delivered because the midwife didn’t make it in time). It was one of the best days of my life.
    God Bless,

    • Nikki February 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

      Oh Praise the Lord… I just had to say that I hope that you have found the solution to your breastfeeding problems. With my first, I had quite the typical hospital delivery and ended up with IV antibiotics. Of course, they don’t tell you to take probiotics! We battled through over a month of nursing trials with weeks of excruciating pain and bleeding and cracking on my end. Thrush was the main culprit (coupled with first time nursing and improperly breaking latch), but once we defeated it we were sailing smooth. Good luck to you!

  7. Jennifer November 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    So many folks get confused and think gentian violet is a derivative of the herb gentian, but it is not. Gentian violet is coal tar–it is toxic and I never recommend it to clients. I hope you will update that information in your recommendations.

  8. Autumn October 1, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Thanks for the great article. My little Nora has thrush right now and we are going to try and do the vinegar solution along with probiotics.

  9. Samara Root August 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    I am looking for a good option for breast pads (for leaks). I am not a seamstress, and don’t have a sewing machine :) . Do you have any idea where I could find some good ones? The ones I have purchased at Motherhood and at a local “natural parenting” store are wrinkly and show through my shirt. I have yeast issues and will want to change frequently, so I need to increase my supply.


    • Racine December 19, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      We are on a tight budget, so I began using panty liners cut in half. Try different sizes, with wings or without, etc., but don’t use scented of course.

  10. c August 12, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    I was doing some research for a friend on this topic, and I think maybe colloidal silver might help with thrush. [For those of you are aren't familiar with colloidal silver you can read a little about it here: There are a lot of politics that surround colloidal silver through the FDA (similar to raw milk) so it can be hard to find balanced information on the topic. It is currently used in the medical industry as a topical antibiotic for sever burns, since it is so gentle and effective]
    I’ve also heard really good things about the anti-yeast packs from BeeYouTiful for candida and wonder if it might helpful for thrush also. The staff at this company are pretty helpful and might could tell you if it would work for thrush

  11. Stephanie August 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    My daughter and I had a really bad case of thrush after she was born, but didn’t realize that was the problem until she was over 2 months old. I tried the gentian violet, but it made no difference. After that we used liquid grapefruit seed extract (GSE) in distilled water in her mouth on on my nipples, GSE tablets for me and probiotics for both. Within 48 hours the pain was completely gone. It was such a blessing to have a normal breastfeeding relationship after that!! You can get more info on Dr. Jay Gordon’s site.

  12. Tamara August 5, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    Recent studies have linked the use of genetian violet to mouth cancer. After researching all my natural options, I chose a different method. I ended up using vinegar and washed EVERYTHING!

  13. Lauren August 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    I had incredible success in defeating a persistant (and incredibly annoying) vaginal yeast infection using oil of oregano and tea tree oil. I imagine that swabbing with a dilute blend of these two oils (which are both well known for their antimicrobial and antifungal properties), as well as adding the oils to loads of laundry, could also help clear up nursing thrush.

    • Nikki February 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      We used diluted tea tree oil swabbed in baby’s mouth along with apple cider vinegar, probiotics etc… but i think the tea tree oil helped a bit:)

  14. joannainca. August 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    my son came down with this in 1994. i didn’t know what it was but my chiropractor’s wife was selling melaleuca (sp?) at the time and she suggested i try it. i had some at home so i swabbed some in my little guy’s mouth and it cleared it up. actually, now that i think of it, i had some eucalyptis oil (why can’t i remember spelling today?) at home, not melaleuca (which is the same thing) and it worked great. so from my experience i would recommend eucalyptis oil for thrush.

  15. Christie August 3, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Good advice. In addition, this link details the possible need for iron supplements when dealing with breastfeeding troubles.

    One thing I’ve read about yeast is that it thrives in low-oxygen environments. If you are anemic, you have less red-blood cells which carry oxygen.

  16. Christy August 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Besides the nipple shield – anything that goes in baby’s mouth should be washed/ sterilized – pacifiers, toys, etc.

  17. The Mummalady August 3, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    What a blessing to have a doctor like yours! I also advise cutting out all yeast from the diet and yes, definitely cutting out sugar, not just cutting down! This is very hard, but thrush FEEDS on sugar and yeast! Thanks for the great posts.

  18. Ashlee August 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    When I had my 3rd baby, I had the most awful, painful time nursing him! I spent 4 months crying each time I had to nurse, just anticipating the pain, yet I trudged through it. I never noticed any spots in his mouth/tongue/cheeks at all. Could that have been an undiagnosed thrush?? I finally switched to a bottle somewhere around 4 months.
    Now I have a 9-week-old and his tongue is COATED white, but not spotty, like thrush. And the most wonderful thing: the initial nursing pain quickly subsided (within a couple of weeks) and now I almost look forward to nursing! Such a change from the last baby… If it starts getting painful though, I will definitely look to an invisible thrush culprit! :D

  19. Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor August 3, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    I’m so glad to read this article and the great comments! I will definitely be more prepared when I have another baby.

    My second baby and I got thrush when he was a few months old. He got prescription oral antifungal medication and some topical ointment that both of us used, but I think we just kept passing it back and forth to each other. I was amazed that I could get through his birth without pain medication but I would cry every time he latched on! He wasn’t the best nurser to begin with, and I unconsciously limited his feedings because it was so painful. My milk supply and his growth both suffered.

    As a result, I fed him a lot more solids even though he really had no interest in real food, and kept nursing periodically until, at 14 months, I couldn’t handle it anymore and weaned him completely. He wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t either. It’s hard to tell a hungry and upset toddler “no” when he really wants to nurse. I hope I can naturally prevent or treat this problem if I ever encounter it again.

  20. Heather L August 3, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Borax is the name of the homeopathic remedy that I used with my daughter. I would go to your local health food store and ask them about it and get a recommendation on dosing and such.

    Here is a link that shows it and talks about it a little more I have since used it myself whenever I get a sore in my mouth and it seems to work very well at clearing it up. I would say it is worth a try!

  21. Rosita August 3, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Like others, vinegar (apple cider for me) really helped me. Also, making a paste with water and probiotic powder and applying that to my baby’s mouth really helped. I have had it with all my pregnancies, but number 3 was the worst as it got into the milk ducts. I can totally relate about crying when I knew I had to nurse. It took a couple weeks on medication to get rid of it. Now pregnant with my fourth, I am starting the probiotics early, and will probably wipe down with vinegar from the start. Like Jessica I would rather prevent then treat.

  22. Katie August 3, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Vinegar and probiotics were the cure for us too! I diluted white vinegar with water and used as a wipe solution for diaper changes, rubbed on my nipples, and for cleaning everything I couldnt fit in the dishwasher like toys and the high chair. Just remember to wash/clean EVERYTHING baby touches!

  23. Carrie August 3, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    Oh yeast beast is no fun! I suffered with it with my first baby, and learned a lot about how to prevent and treat it – it’s a big problem here in the Southeast, it’s so hot and muggy that anything fungus-y thrives.

  24. bethany August 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    And don’t forget about kefir made at home from milk kefir grains and raw milk!

  25. Natalie August 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    I’ll second Erin’s comment, above. I always have white vinegar around, so if I’m suspecting thrush I’ll start by swabbing myself down after nursing, and also adding some to the baby’s bath water, since sometimes yeast makes an angry red rash on it’s way out of the body. I also take acidophilus myself and put a few grains in the baby’s mouth. So far we have kicked two mild cases of thrush this way. :)

  26. Jessica in Europe August 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    Ohhhh- this brings back the pain! I had undiagnosed thrush for almost 2 months with my 2nd child. It was horrible. I got to the point that I was crying every time I knew I needed to nurse because it hurt so bad! It lasted another 2 months before I was able to get rid of it. I had been using some topical prescription at first but an oral med got rid of it. I’m 8 weeks out from baby #3 so this is such a timely post for me… I live overseas and just added a few of the items on to my list for my mom to bring to me when she comes here in September! I’d much rather prevent it or treat it naturally.

  27. Randi August 2, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    Do you have any preferences for what type of probiotics to use? I would like to get our children started on them but I’m overwhelmed by all the different information. Any suggestions?

  28. Jill August 2, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    I just ordered gentian (I think that’s the proper spelling) violet for my little one. I ordered the 2% solution, and will dilute it since I’ve read this article. Thanks!

  29. Joy Y. August 2, 2010 at 3:50 am #

    Thank you for the great tips…with a new little one on the way…I am making a list of maladies that are common with little ones, and their natural rememdies. So handy to have on hand in the depths of winter when my baby is due!

  30. Cat Moore August 2, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    Hi! I’m new to your blog, but LOVE it! I’m sure you already know, but this week is World Breastfeeding Week! I just blogged about it before seeing this. Great post! :)

  31. Erin August 2, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    Regarding Thrush
    After 6 weeks of treating thrush with various medicines- I tried vinegar. 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of water. Use cotton balls to apply to breasts after every feeding. Vinegar and washing bras daily and drying in the sun for a couple of weeks cleared up the infection. It’s been gone ever since. If I had tried this in conjunction with acidophilous in the beginning I could probably have avoided the costly medications.