Body Odor in Toddlers – Is it Normal and Tips to Prevent

6 min read

Written by Ajanta Biswas

Ajanta Biswas

Body odor in toddlers

Adults face humiliating situations due to body odor in public spaces. That is why there are deodorants, roll-ons, and other such products to deal with body odor. But what if you smell body odor in your toddler? How to deal with body odor in toddlers? Is body odor normal in toddlers?

Toddlers having body odor is an uncommon thing. Body odors occur naturally when your child hits puberty. But if your toddler is having bad smelling armpits, breath, and urine then you need to be alert. There can be underlying reasons behind it. Here is all you need to know about body odor in toddlers.

In This Article

Is Body Odor Normal in Toddlers?

Body odor is not a normal thing in toddlers as it is for adults. Toddlers may sweat when it is summer, or when they have a fever or eat spicy food. The eccrine sweat glands present all over the skin release sweat in situations like these. Another sweat gland, the apocrine gland, releases sweat in response to adrenaline during fear, stress, anxiety, or physical activities. But the sweat itself is odorless. It is the bacterial growth in the sweat that causes body odor.

Bacteria involved in causing body odor include members of Corynebacterium, Staphylococcus and Cutibacterium groups. These bacteria break down protein molecules present in the sweat, causing body odor. Kids usually do not have body odor at first because the apocrine gland in their body does not work until puberty. Secondly, sincere moms like you make sure that they remain clean and tidy. So body odor in toddlers is uncommon and needs immediate medical attention.

[Read : Common Toddler Fears]

What Causes Body Odor in Toddlers?

causes body odor in toddlers

Although body odor is uncommon in toddlers, still some kids may experience sweating in certain cases. There can be multiple reasons behind it, like-

  • Irregular bathing and poor hygiene
  • Hyperactive sweat glands or hyperhidrosis that generate excessive sweat in toddlers can cause body odor
  • Eating high amounts of non-organic protein-rich food such as eggs, meat, and spicy fast food
  • Presence of parasites and bacteria in the skin
  • Exposure to heavy metal toxicity. Arsenic toxicity leads to a garlic-like smell on the breath
  • Genetic abnormality can cause a rare fish odor syndrome. In this, the sweat, breath, and urine of the toddler gets a fishy smell 
  • Trimethylaminuria is a rare condition in which the body is unable to convert trimethylamine, a strong-smelling chemical produced by bacteria as they break down certain foods in the gut, into a different and less smelly chemical. As a result, the chemical keeps on getting accumulated in the body and is released through bodily fluids like sweat, urine, etc., making them smell bad.

Symptoms of Body Odor in Toddlers

It is easy to ascertain if your toddler has a body odor problem by smelling their armpits, neck, and feet. There will be a strong pungent onion-like smell emanating from their body. In addition, you may also notice symptoms like excessive sweating, cold hands, and weight loss in your toddler.

How to Treat Body Odor in Toddlers?

treat body odor in toddlers

There are different ways to treat body odor depending on their sources or reasons such as-

  • If it is due to any bacteria then the doctor will prescribe some antibacterial courses. You can use antibacterial creams and drying agents in case of hyperhidrosis.
  • In case of excessive sweating in limbs and underarms, the doctor may recommend medicines containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate.
  • If the body odor is due to trimethylaminuria, it can be managed by changes in dietary habits. You may need to exclude high-smelling food products like- eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, soy products, and cabbage from your toddler’s diet.
  • In some cases the doctor may also prescribe laxatives to reduce the amount of trimethylamine bacteria in the gut.

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Body Odor in Toddlers

few drops of lemon juice to their bath water

Preventing body odor in kids is possible if one takes certain measures. Here are top 5 tips you can follow to prevent body odor in toddlers

  • Incorporate fresh, green leafy vegetables into your toddler’s diet as well as aromatic herbs like basil, sage, and rosemary. The chlorophyll present in these herbs acts as a natural body cleanser.
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to their bath water.
  • Dab a few drops of apple cider vinegar on areas like armpits before a bath. Keep for a few minutes and bathe the toddler. Alternatively, you can also mix one spoonful of apple cider vinegar to 250ml water. Spray this mixture on your kid’s skin before bath.
  • Ensure they wear clean and dry shoes and socks. Also, make them wear clean clothes. If their clothes are covered in sweat, change them immediately.
  • Make your toddler take a shower regularly. You can even take them to shower twice a day in the hot and humid climate.

Body odor in toddlers is an uncommon occurrence but it can happen due to specific reasons. You can easily avoid this by following general cleanliness and consuming limited organic animal protein. But in case of hyperactive sweat glands, genetic or metabolic diseases, or parasite infection you will need medical advice. You can use lemons to increase the acidic element in your toddler’s skin to prevent bacterial growth. Most importantly, teach your toddler basic hygiene skills like washing hands, washing off dirt after playing, bathing regularly etc.

[Read : Teaching Children The Importance Of Hand Washing]


1. Can a 2-Year-Old Wear Deodorant?

It is not advisable to use deodorant on a 2-year-old toddler. However, there is no specific time or age to use a deodorant. But ideally one should try to avoid deodorants for a kid before puberty (9 or 10 years). Instead, you can use natural products such as baking soda, apple cider vinegar, sage water, rosemary water, etc. They can act as a home remedy to reduce body odor in your toddler.

2. Can a Deficiency Cause Body Odor in Toddlers?

Yes, a deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the body can be a reason for body odor. If the diet of your baby does not contain sufficient vitamins and minerals then bad smell can occur. Malabsorption, a condition when the body fails to absorb nutrients, can also cause body odor.

3. When Does a Child Generally Begin to Show Body Odor?

Generally, children begin to show body odor once they hit puberty. This is because a lot of hormonal changes occur during puberty. In girls, puberty hits between 8 to 13 years. On the other hand, boys reach puberty in between 9 to 14 years. So, if your child is having signs of puberty then having body odor is completely normal.

4. Why Does My Toddler’s Armpits Smell Like Onions?

The reason for the onion-like smell coming from your toddler’s armpits is the growth of bacteria in that region. Sweat by itself does not smell. It is only due to the presence of bacteria that sweat starts smelling. So if your toddler is having smelly armpits, then you may need to take steps to subdue bacterial growth.

5. Can Probiotics Help Body Odor in Toddlers?

Probiotics are good bacteria that hinder the growth of bad bacteria. Thus you can take the help of probiotics to subdue the odor-causing bacteria. They are helpful for good immunity and healthy gut health in children. But there is not enough research on the role of probiotics to reduce body odor in children.

6. Can Dehydration Cause Body Odor?

Yes, dehydration can cause body odor. That’s because the body needs to release the toxins through sweat. For this it needs water. So, going for long without drinking water can cause the sweat to smell due to accumulation of toxins.

Read Also: Personal Hygiene : Begin Early

Ajanta Biswas,MA (English)

Studying English literature has been highly instrumental in creating a love for English and World Literature for this writer. Ajanta has been writing for more than two years. She specializes in creating short and crisp blogs that can create awareness among women about healthy pregnancy and among parents about better parenting.Read more.

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