Introducing your baby to an early oral hygiene helps lead to healthy teeth, gums, and fresh breath which is vital for their overall health. If your baby hasn’t started eating solid foods or doesn’t have teeth yet, cleaning baby’s tongue might seem irrelevant. But oral care isn’t only for adults and older kids, babies also need their mouths clean, and the earlier you start, the better.

clean baby's tongue

When to clean your baby’s tongue?

Bacteria exist in a baby’s mouth the same way they exist in older kids’ and adults’ mouths. Babies have difficulty washing away milk residue in their mouths due to the little saliva they secrete. This milk residue can build upon their tongue causing a white coating. Therefore, it is recommended to begin cleaning the baby’s mouth as a newborn, even before the appearance of a tooth.

How to clean your baby’s tongue?

a piece of gauze
  • Cleaning your baby’s tongue and gums is a simple process, and you need only a few items.
  • First, wash your own hands with soap and water.
  • Gather all items needed: warm water, a piece of gauze, and a clean washcloth.
  • Lay your baby across your lap with their head cradled in your hand.
  • Wrap a piece of gauze around your finger and dip your wrapped finger into the warm water.
  • Gently open your baby’s mouth, and then lightly rub their tongue in a circular motion using the cloth or gauze.
  • Softly rub your finger over your baby’s gums and on the inside of their cheeks, too.
  • You can also make use of a soft finger brush designed to gently massage and scrub away milk residue from your baby’s mouth.
baby finger brush

If you notice any white coating residue after washing, contact your baby’s pediatrician. It could be an infection called thrush. Milk residue and thrush look alike. The main difference is that you can wipe away milk residue but you can’t wipe away thrush. Thrush requires treatment to stop the spread of the infection. So if that white coating doesn’t wipe away, contact your baby’s pediatrician.

baby thrush

Toothpaste is not needed for cleaning the mouth of a newborn or young infant less than six months old. Washing your baby’s mouth with toothpaste can result in babies swallowing too much fluoride. Regular checkups with a pediatric dentist are also important for babies Schedule your baby’s first dental visit when the first tooth erupts. The dentist will check the overall health of your baby’s teeth, gums, tongue, and jaw. Oral motor developmental problems and tooth decay will also be checked.

The earlier you start your baby’s oral hygiene, the better.

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