We’ve all heard about that baby scent that exhilarates parents to the point they want to bottle it up forever. However, that doesn’t last forever. Pretty soon things start turning around, and… your kid starts to smell. Like, actually stink. Don’t worry! Kids sweat too, and there’s nothing unusual about that. In this post, we’re covering everything you need to know about body odor in children, including warning signs and easy solutions. We’ve also compiled our favorite deodorants for kids, to help you choose one from the vast array of available options.
On this post:
- What causes body odor in children?
- How to treat body odor in children
- Best deodorants for kids
What causes body odor in children?
As with almost anyone, it all comes down to bacteria living on our skin. It’s not the bacteria themselves that stink, but rather what they produce. When these bacteria break down our sweat, they produce smelly molecules that come to form what we think of as body odor. Of course, bacteria can only break down the sweat that they’re given. While babies give them very little to form stinky molecules with, children with emerging puberty are a completely different issue. Adrenarch (meaning, puberty body changes due to the adrenal glands becoming more active) is usually the culprit of smelly pre-teens.
Please keep in mind that body odor before nine years old (in boys) or eight years old (in girls) can be a sign of precocious puberty. If that’s the case, please take your child to the doctor, as these changes shouldn’t happen before that age and need to be monitored.
How to treat body odor in children
First things first, let’s get down to some basics. There are some staples you should check before getting worried or having to manage body odor on a daily basis. Here’s a checklist for you to confirm everything is running smoothly:
- Ensure a bath happens every day if your kid is sweating a lot or the weather is extremely hot. Ensure areas such as armpits, groin, and feet are dutifully washed;
- Make sure they wear clean clothes every day, including underwear and socks;
- Choose one of the deodorants for kids we’ve selected below;
- Choose clothes and shoes with breathable materials (such as cotton) to ensure bacteria don’t have a perfect breeding ground;
- Regularly wash sheets and towels that your kid uses;
- Some foods can change body odor. Try reducing the amount of onion and garlic you use, as well as some intense spices such as curry.
When your kid hates bath time
Of course, making kids take a bath can sometimes be a battleground. Sometimes it will be a war to both get them inside the bathtub and take them from there (the joys of parenting). While they’re there, make sure the bath is as fun as it can be. Get them that Frozen-themed shower gel, the baby Yoda loofah, and the green shampoo that smells of apples. In some cases, it can also be good to get a specific product for the intimate area, as these highly fragranced shower gels can be too much for some delicate skins.
When your child has smelly feet
Feet are notorious for their less-than ideal smell, and this is true even for children. This author can tell you that one time she removed her shoes from her one-year-old daughter and considered fainting on the spot. Most definitely turned green from the smell. Here’s the problem: cutesy sockless shoes look super adorable on tiny humans, but they can also be the culprit of smelly feet. In our case, we were able to fix the issue simply by changing her shoes and opting for cotton socks at all times.
Usually, good quality cotton socks are all it takes, but you can also opt for moisture-wicking socks if your kid sweats a lot from their feet. The right shoes also make a huge difference, and choosing shoes that can go into the washing machine can ease the process of cleaning them. However, if you struggle with the smell of the shoes, you can use deodorizing powders or sprays directly on the shoes.
Best deodorants for kids
If you’ve done everything in your power and it still wasn’t enough, it may be time to consider using a deodorant. There is no set age to start using a deodorant, but you should always consider all the other variables first. Here are some tips to help you choose the best one:
- Opt for roll-on or stick deodorants, as sprays can sometimes be mishandled and end up on your child’s face or in the air instead of their armpits;
- Start with deodorants, and move up to antiperspirants if needed. The first ones control the odor, while antiperspirants also help reduce the amount of sweat. Both are perfectly safe to use;
- No, you don’t need to choose a “natural formula”. They’re not safer or anything like that. Choose the best one and don’t worry about fearmongering.
Gentle deodorants for kids
We’ve compiled a list of deodorants that are great for kids. We’re usually fans of pharmacy-style deodorants, as they tend to be extremely gentle on the skin. However, there are also some great affordable options, so we’ve also included one for you to check out:
Antiperspirants for teens
Some teens experience extremely scented sweat, having to change clothes throughout the day. This author has been there and done that, so here’s a selection for your teen who is struggling with this issue:
Sweating is no issue in itself. However, the adjacent smell can be a burden to those who suffer from it. If your kid is facing this issue, we hope we’ve helped a bit with these tips and products. You can also find other effective antiperspirants on our list of antiperspirants for heavy sweating.
Pharmacy Technician & Beauty Writer