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There is a lot to think about when it comes to caring for a newborn baby.
Some baby care tasks are obvious like changing their diaper and feeding them regularly, but there are other parts about caring for a baby that many expectant parents know nothing about.
For example, cutting their teeny tiny toenails and cleaning eye gunk from their precious little sleepy eyes, both common baby care tasks that no one seems to talk that much about.
You are not alone if the first time you ever thought about cleaning your baby’s tongue was once they had already arrived and they poked it out at you, all white and bobbly after a feed.
Cleaning your baby’s tongue is something parents need to do regularly right from the newborn days.
It might seem complicated and a little scary to start with but cleaning a newborn’s mouth and tongue is simple and will quickly become just another one of those baby-related tasks you can do without thinking.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Need To Wash My Baby’s Tongue?
It might seem a bit odd that you need to clean inside your baby’s mouth when they don’t have any teeth yet but oral hygiene is just as important for babies as it is for older children and adults.
A baby’s mouth is full of bacteria and not all of it is the good kind. It is important to regularly clean inside your baby’s mouth to clean away the dirt and germs and to also remove any milk residue that has settled on their tongue after a feed.
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It is important to remember that babies do not make as much saliva as adults and this makes it more difficult for them to clean away the bacteria in their mouths themselves.
When Do I Need To Start Cleaning My Baby’s Mouth And Tongue?
Good oral hygiene should be a part of your baby care routine right from day one. Newborns feed several times a day and if their mouths are not kept clean milk residue can build upon their tongue and fill their mouth with bacteria.
Newborn tongue cleaning may seem like a scary prospect but it is simple and by introducing oral hygiene at such a young age.
When it is time to start brushing adorable baby teeth with a toothbrush, hopefully, your baby won’t be too anxious about having something in their mouth.
When Should I Clean Baby’s Mouth And Tongue?
To maintain a healthy and germ-free mouth, you should be cleaning your baby’s tongue after their feeds.
It is particularly important to clean their tongue when you notice it is starting to turn white from built-up milk residue. Milk can quickly build up on a baby’s tongue and this is why it is important to wipe away any milk residue straight after a feed.
If you are unable to clean your baby’s tongue after each milk feed, try to take the time to clean your baby’s mouth at least twice a day. You should clean your baby’s mouth when they are content, it will be easier for you and a more relaxed experience for your baby too.
How Do I Clean My Baby’s Tongue?
Cleaning a newborn baby’s tongue is easy and does not require you to go out and buy special equipment.
Whilst there are wipes available to buy specifically for cleaning baby’s tongue and mouth, these are not essential as the job can be done with a few supplies you will already have at home.
Here is a quick step by step guide to cleaning a baby’s mouth and tongue
- Wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap.
- Wrap a piece of gauze or a clean washcloth around your finger.
- Wet your finger slightly with warm water.
- Place your finger into the baby’s mouth and gently rub the baby’s gums.
- Move your finger in small gentle circles across the baby’s tongue until the milk residue is gone.
- Wipe the cloth gently inside your baby’s cheeks to clean that area of the mouth too.
See, it’s easy! Once your baby is six months old you can introduce baby toothpaste and a baby toothbrush to keep their mouth clean but you can continue to clean your baby’s mouth and tongue using the tips above for as long as needed.
Parents, be warned. If you are putting your finger into the mouth of a baby with brand new pointy teeth, don’t be surprised if they try to take a chunk out of your finger while you are busy cleaning.
If your little one is teething here are some tips to help soothe them at night.
Is My Baby’s Tongue White From Thrush?
Sometimes a baby’s tongue is white and milk build-up is not the culprit. Oral thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth and is a common issue for newborns and young babies.
A thick white coating on a baby’s tongue is a common symptom of oral thrush and unlike milk residue, it will not simply wipe away using the baby tongue cleaning tips mentioned above.
Can I Scrape Thrush Off My Baby’s Tongue?
You can not scrape thrush off your baby’s tongue and should never use any kind of force when cleaning inside your baby’s mouth. Thrush is a medical condition and therefore will require medical treatment from a pediatrician.
Your baby will need to take antifungal medication to stop the spread of the infection.
Thrush presents as a thick white coating on a baby’s tongue and can also include white spots appearing on their gums, the inside of their cheeks, and on the surface of their tongue too.
If you can wipe the white stuff off your baby’s tongue then it’s not thrush. If the white coat is staying put then contact your child’s pediatrician so you can get treatment for thrush started as soon as possible.
Top Oral Hygiene Tips For Newborns And Babies
- Introduce a mouth cleaning routine from birth.
- Remove milk residue after feeds using a clean finger wrapped in a clean cloth or gauze.
- Look out for symptoms of thrush and get treatment asap if necessary.
- From six months old begin to brush baby’s teeth with a small amount of baby toothpaste and a baby toothbrush.
- Continue to clean dirt from the baby’s mouth after feeding when they begin to eat solid food.
- Remove pacifiers and bottles from baby’s mouth when they are sleeping/no longer sucking.
- Delay introducing solid foods full of sugar during weaning and limit these foods as your baby grows.
- Avoid offering your baby sugary drinks like fruit juice, instead offer water and/of breastmilk.
- Brush your baby’s teeth for them to make sure they are cleaned properly (there is plenty of time for them to do it themselves when they are older).
The Final Thought
When you began reading this article you may not have known you even needed to clean your baby’s tongue, now you are armed with all the knowledge you need to keep your baby’s mouth clean and healthy.
You may have wondered ‘is it normal for a baby to have a white tongue?’ and now you know – if you can wipe it away it’s normal and just milk, if you can’t wipe the white film away then it’s time to pop to see the pediatrician.