Sour Babies: Why Your Baby Smells Like Vinegar

Recently, I talked about baby poop smelling like vinegar. Naturally, that begged more questions on the topic of babies and vinegar.

Like why a baby’s breath smells like vinegar. Or why baby sweat smells like vinegar. Baby feet smell like vinegar, and baby hands smell like vinegar. Baby spit-up smells sour sometimes too.

In fact, you may be wondering why you ever imagined babies to smell sweet or like baby powder when they more often than not smell of poop and other undesirable aromas.

But today’s focus is vinegar. And more specifically, WHY does your baby smell like it?!?

Why does my baby smell like vinegar?

When it comes to baby feet, hands, and, well, the rest of the baby, you may notice a smell of vinegar. The reason is going to surprise you!

That’s because babies (toddlers and children too) are sweatier than grownups. In particular, their feet sweat more. I can tell you this from my eldest, whose socks and sneakers would nearly kill us from the stench when she got home from school.

Anyway, more sweat means more bacteria. And you know what bacteria causes, right? SMELL!

Baby feet and hands smell the most simply because we bundle them up. Maybe not the hands in warmer climates, but if you live in a place where you need gloves, absolutely.

Babies cannot regulate their own body temperature. So it’s up to you to ensure you’re not overdoing it with the layers.

baby smelled bad when mom holds her

As for feet, that can’t be helped in any climate though you should keep those little tootsies as dry as possible to keep that vinegar stench away. You can change their socks when they’re sweaty and choose more breathable materials. The same goes for shoes, too, with breathability.

Another thing that can help is simply using a washcloth to clean feet and hands throughout the day.

But there’s something else too…babies and toddlers can get that vinegar smell from sweat all over. Look at those chubby folds around the neck too. Wiping them down will help keep that nasty smell away.

Baby powder is a great helper here, though please choose the talc-free versions. Baby powder with talcum powder can be dangerous if inhaled. If you’d rather not use it directly on your baby, you can also dump it into their shoes and give it a good shake out away from the baby. This will ensure she doesn’t inhale any particles of any kind.

That vinegar odor isn’t just from body odor, though. If your infant’s breath smells sour, this next section should greatly interest you!

What does it mean if your baby’s breath smells like vinegar?

Sometimes baby’s breath smells like sour milk. Toddlers breath smells like vinegar, too, on occasion just like a baby does. So what gives?

The reason your baby or toddler even has that vinegar breath is likely the cause of stomach acid.

Since babies spit up often, you’ll have that sour milk to vinegar stench. However, after introducing a new food, you shouldn’t worry too much if you notice this. Keep an eye on the food, though, because something may irritate your child’s tummy and be the cause.

Other times baby smells like vinegar is teething, though that will usually be in the diaper, as we discussed when I wrote about baby poop.

Babies that often have sour vinegar breath could be gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as GERD. Another cause of that bowl-you-over baby breath is an ear infection or thrush infection.

gastroesophageal reflux in baby

If it’s GERD, your baby will not just smell the vinegar. She will cry to no end after feeding. She may also nurse poorly or even want to breastfeed ALL the time. Then she’ll spit up some more and not sleep well.

As for thrush, pop open that baby mouth. If a baby’s tongue is white, that’s usually the most common sign. It’s easily treatable, though, so head to the doctor.

It is usually easy to spot babies with ear infections since your baby will tug at her ears. She may also have a fever and not nurse or sleep well. Again, a trip to the doctor will have her treated and back to her usual self, though maybe a bit less stinky afterward.

Don’t forget to look out below

One last thing about baby smelling like vinegar and having a sour stench…make sure it’s not the diaper making that smell. And if it is, my post on baby poop should help you determine if something more is happening or if it’s just a random occurrence for your baby.

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