Bad Breath On Baby: Causes and Ultimate Solutions

Learn From Doctor Team
Learn From Doctor Team is made up of well-qualified doctors of different fields with brilliant academic results and professional careers. The article is written and reviewed by doctors of this specialty.

Bad Breath On Baby

Baby bad breath(bad breath on baby) is caused by bacterial metabolism products such as sulfur, volatile fatty acids, and other chemicals such as putrescine and cadaverine, according to most scientists.

The tongue, especially tongues that are heavily coated, is the primary source of these bacteria. These germs can also be present in the spaces between teeth and gums (periodontal area).

Oral causes for Baby bad breath

Ingestion of odorous foods

This is the most common cause. If your child consumes foods with strong tastes, such as garlic and onions, they can cause bad breath as they move through the digestive system.

Bad oral hygiene

Everyone’s mouth is full of bacteria, and a baby’s mouth is no exception. Leftover food particles on the lips, at the gum line, and between teeth, or around the tonsils at the back of your child’s throat interact with bacteria. Bad breath may result from these bacteria interactions, particularly if food particles are left in the mouth for long periods of time.

Dry mouth

Mouth bacteria is very likely to build up and expand if your baby is breathing through its mouth, whether due to a stuffy nose or just being agape in baby wonderment.

Abscesses, cavities, and tartar

The build-up of those can all cause bad breath in your child’s mouth, though gingivitis is more typically found in adults.

Foreign Objects

Toddlers have a habit of placing tiny, unfamiliar, foreign things in their mouths, whether or not they are edible. Any item that your child places in his or her mouth will trigger bad breath.

Dental Care

Even if your baby has just a few teeth, poor oral hygiene will cause tooth decay. A visit to the dental consultant will quickly rule this out.

What should we do?

Brushing or scraping the back half of the tongue, particularly the back half, may help adults with bad breath. While there haven’t been any trials on toddlers, this is a risk-free procedure you can try at home.

Mouthwashes, especially those containing zinc, may help adults with bad breath. However, no research has been conducted on toddlers, who might not be able to swish and spit mouthwash.

Daily cleanings and checkups with a dentist, beginning at the age of one, can help avoid poor dental health and tooth decay, which can lead to bad breath.

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Nasal causes of bad breath in toddlers

In babies, chronic sinusitis is a potential cause of bad breath. Some signs or symptoms in children with this disorder are almost always present, such as:

  • frequent runny nose
  • cough
  • nasal obstruction
  • facial pain

A foreign object stuck up the nose, such as a bead or a piece of food, is also popular among this age group. This can also cause a bad odor on your breath.

Bad breath on baby should not be ignored
Bad breath on baby should not be ignored

When this happens, the child normally has a foul-smelling, sometimes green, discharge from the nose, which usually comes from only one nostril. In these cases, the odor can be overpowering and rapidly worsen.

Other nasal causes include;

  • Allergies or colds: Excess mucus helps bacteria to develop, resulting in bad breath in babies.
  • Sinus infection: As the fluid builds up in the nasal passages and drips down the back of the mouth, this causes a sinus infection.
  • Large tonsils: Food or bacteria may accumulate in the pits of large tonsils, resulting in an unpleasant odor.

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What should we do?

You should continue to wait it out if you think your child has sinusitis and it started recently. Allowing your child to drink plenty of water and blow their nose can help things move along more quickly.

If you’ve tried these techniques and they haven’t worked, consult your child’s doctor. In certain cases, an antibiotic is prescribed to treat chronic sinusitis.

Call your pediatrician if you believe a foreign object is stuck in your child’s nose. The item is most likely covered by swollen nasal tissue by the time it causes bad breath and green discharge. It may be difficult to get rid of it at home.

Your child’s doctor might be able to extract it in his or her office or refer you to another specialist.

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GI(Gastrointestinal) causes for baby bad breath

While GI causes of bad breath in toddlers are less common than other causes, they should be considered when other GI complaints are present.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be the cause of your child’s chronic bad breath, as well as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or heartburn. Stomach acid can reflux (travel up) the esophagus, often into the throat or mouth, and in some cases, out the mouth, in this state.

Parents may be more familiar with GERD as an issue that affects infants, but it may also affect toddlers.

Another disease that causes bad breath is Helicobacter pylori infection, a form of bacteria that can invade the stomach and cause unpleasant symptoms. This usually happens in conjunction with other apparent GI issues, such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or burping.

Infection with H. pylori that causes symptoms is more common in older children and adults, but it can also occur in toddlers.

What should we do?

These conditions almost always necessitate medical attention. Medications are often prescribed for these conditions, but your child can need further testing to decide if GERD or H. pylori is to blame.

Consult your pediatrician if your child has frequent or persistent GI symptoms as well as bad breath.

Take Care of your baby's breath
Take Care of your baby’s breath

Other causes of bad breath on baby

Children who breathe through their mouth while sleeping are more likely to have bad breath than children who do not.

Mouth breathing can dry out the oral mucosa, resulting in a reduction in saliva flow. This causes the bacteria to generate a foul odor in the mouth. Also, if your toddler drinks something other than water from a bottle or sippy cup at night, this may trigger the issue.

Children breathe only through their mouth for a variety of reasons, ranging from allergy-induced nasal obstruction to massive adenoids blocking their airway.

Toys: Babies and toddlers use their mouths to discover the world. If your child’s toys aren’t washed after they’ve been in their mouth, bacteria can be moved back into their mouths when they play with them again.

Pacifiers and Teethers: As babies suck and chew on their pacifiers and teethers, saliva and bacteria are left behind. If not properly washed, these products emit a foul odor, which can lead to bacteria being passed back into your baby’s mouth when they use the item again.

What should we do here?

Brush your child’s teeth right before bedtime, then give them nothing but water (or breast milk if you’re still breastfeeding at night) until morning.

If your child is breathing through their mouth all of the time, seek medical advice. Since mouth breathing may have a variety of causes, some of which need medical attention, your child should be examined by a doctor to rule out any serious issues.

“If you want to know more about the above-mentioned disease conditions that may cause bad breath in a baby, here are some details about them.”

Related Article – Teeth Cleaning


Sinusitis may be one of the causes of bad breath. If your child has sinusitis, she may have nasal discharge and sneezing as well as other symptoms. Though sinusitis symptoms are similar to those of a cold, sinusitis lasts longer. Allergies may cause this disease, which results in clogged sinus passages. As a result, the baby can only breathe through her mouth, which causes saliva to dry out.

A dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, which can lead to bad breath. If you think your baby has a sinus infection, make an appointment with your doctor to see if antibiotics are required.

Enlarged Tonsilitis

Enlarged tonsils or adenoids are two other medical conditions that can cause stinky breath. Tonsils that are healthy are pink and spotless, but infected tonsils are red, bloated, have visible white spots, and stink bad. Bacteria collects in the back of the throat, causing stinky breath when combined with the sour scent of infection. If your child’s tonsils are swollen or red, you should have them examined by a doctor. To help treat the infection, your pediatrician can prescribe an antibiotic.

Acid Reflux

In children, acid reflux can cause bad breath. Food regurgitation is usually associated with this disease. Acid reflux occurs when the ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach is not completely formed, causing stomach contents to flow backward and the baby to spit up. This condition is hardly ever life-threatening and should improve as your child grows older. After the age of 18 months, acid reflux is typically no longer a concern.

While reflux in babies normally goes away on its own, there are a few things you can do to help lessen the effects:

• Feed your baby in smaller, more regular amounts.

• During your baby’s feeding, burp her halfway through.

• After feeding, keep your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes.

• Experiment with different types of formula for your kid.

• Change the size of the nipple on your baby bottle. Your baby can swallow air if his or her nipples are too big or tiny.

• If you’re breastfeeding, consider cutting out wheat, meat, and eggs from your diet to see if your baby has any allergies.

Diabetes (Type-I)

When your child’s pancreas ceases releasing insulin, a hormone that helps your body get energy from food, type one diabetes develops. When this occurs, the immune system attacks and kills the cells in the pancreas that contain insulin (beta cells). The presence of foul breath is one of the symptoms that could be due to this illness.

Bad breath on baby can be symptoms of underlying conditions
Bad breath on baby can be symptoms of underlying conditions

Chronic Kidney Disease

If there is permanent kidney damage or deterioration in kidney function, this happens. This disorder affects around 20% percent of children under the age of two.

• Poor appetite

• Vomiting

• Headache

• Stunted growth

• General sense of nausea

• Chronic urinary tract infections

• Urinary incontinence

• Bad breath

• Stomach mass

Those are all symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

Don’t be panicked, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are very rare in this case. Just make sure you contacted a doctor for your baby. Follow the instruction and medication provided by the doctor, soon your baby will be fine and will shine the world with his/her smile.

You may also like to read Breath smells like mothballs and breath smells like feces or poop. 

Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Learn From Doctor Team

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