How to Clean Newborn Tongue (and Protect Your Child from Thrush!)

Maintaining your baby’s health includes giving an emphasis on his oral health too. Keep in mind that a baby’s immune system is not yet fully developed. Because of this, your child is at risk of developing oral thrush which is an infection of the tongue that is common in babies.

To prevent the risk of infection and to keep bacteria, fungus, and germs at bay, it is a must that you clean your baby’s tongue on a regular basis. But how do you do that? What is the best way to clean your baby’s tongue?

Don’t fret! I have written this article to provide you with the steps needed on how to clean newborn tongue. So read on!


What You Will Need

I will explain to you three ways on how to clean newborn tongue. The items that you will need to prepare will depend on which technique you would want to use. With that in mind, here is a list of the items that you may need:

Regardless of what method you will employ, you will need soap and water to wash your hands before the procedure.

For Method #1:

  • Sterile gauze/ Soft baby cloth

If you would ask me, sterile gauze is the best option because you are assured that it is, well, sterile. However, it is disposable, so you will have to throw them after every use.

If you do not have the money to splurge, the soft baby cloth is your next best option. Just make sure that the cloth is thoroughly washed. You can also try sterilizing it in your baby’s sterilizer.

For Method #2:

  • Silicone baby toothbrushes

For Method #3:

  • Cotton swabs

The Various Steps on How to Clean Newborn Tongue

Here are the steps that you need to take to protect your child from oral thrush!

Part I. Preparing For The Process

wash your hands

First things first, it is a must that you wash your hands thoroughly using water and soap. You should also trim your nail so you are assured that there will be no sharp edges that may hurt your baby’s mouth.

Part II. Cleaning The Tongue

Now, let us go to the cleaning time! As mentioned above, there are three ways on how you can clean your newborn’s tongue. Here they are:

Method #1: Using Sterile Gauze or Soft Baby cloth

This is the method that is preferred by many because the items needed for the process are readily available at home.

Step 1. Wrap the gauze around your index finger.

Wrap the washcloth or the gauze around your finger and dip your finger into a bowl of warm water to moisten it a bit.

  • Pro Tip: There are ready-made finger cloths that are specially designed for this purpose in drugstores so do not hesitate to inquire about it.

Step 2. Position your child correctly.

Find the position that is most comfortable for your child.

  • Pro Tip: Cradling your child is recommended because he will be able to feel your warmth and security in that position. As a result, he will feel less agitated during the cleaning process.

Step 3. Clean his tongue.

Clean baby tongue

Using your fingers, gently open the mouth of your baby. Once his mouth is open, slowly insert the gauze-covered finger inside his mouth and rub the surface of his tongue in circular motion.

Once you are done with his tongue, you can proceed on moving your finger in the different parts of his mouth, including the gum, teeth and the side of the cheeks.

Step 4. Throw away the gauze.

As mentioned above, sterile gauzes are disposable so you should throw them right after every use.

Method #2: Using Silicone Baby Toothbrush

Using Silicone Baby Toothbrush

Using an infant toothbrush is the most efficient way as it can scrape most of the thrushes. However, it is a bit complicated so you should only choose this option if you are comfortable with working with one.

For this method, follow the steps 2-4 that we have mentioned in the first method. For the first step, just insert your index finger in the toothbrush instead of wrapping it with a gauze.

  • Pro Tip: Since the material of the toothbrush is the same as the feeding bottle nipple, there’s a chance that your baby will suck on it so make sure that your finger has a good grip on the brush.

Method #3: Using Cotton Swabs

Using Cotton Swabs

If you do not have a soft baby cloth or sterile gauze, you can opt for cotton swabs instead.

Step 1. Moisten the cotton swab by dipping it in warm water.

Step 2. Cradle your child.

Step 3. Clean the tongue.

Use the tip of the swab to touch your baby’s lip which will cause it to open up. Once it is already open, gently slide the cotton swab into the lips. Gently scrape the thrush off the tongue. Continue doing this until you have removed all thrush.

Step 4. Dispose of the cotton swab.

Just like the gauze, you should never re-use cotton swabs to avoid infection and possible contamination.

Other Things You Should Know

Here are some of the other tips that you should know on how to clean newborn tongue:

  • If your child already has a white build up on his tongue and it wasn’t removed using any of the methods mentioned above, you can try repeating the process using a non-fluoridated tongue cleanser.
  • You should never use products that contain fluoride in cleaning your child’s tongue.
  • If the build up is still there even if you have already used a cleanser, it would be best that you seek the advice of a healthcare professional.


Your newborn’s immune system is not yet fully developed so you must protect him from possible infection, especially from thrush which can easily infect the tongue when it is not cleaned regularly and properly.

To protect your child against infection, just follow the steps and methods that I have mentioned above on how to clean newborn tongue.

Did you enjoy our short tutorial? We hope you did! If you have any comments or questions, I would love to read those in the comments section!

Lily Hayes

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Lily Hayes. I am a strong-willed woman who believes that motherhood is the greatest experience in this world. More...

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