Causes of Bad Breath in Babies

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If you think your baby has bad breath, you have to investigate the Causes of Bad Breath.

Fret not! This guide will cover the causes of bad breath and home remedies that you can easily use to reduce bad breath.

Let’s get into it.

When we think of bad breath, we usually associate it with adults or children who do not brush their teeth properly. These are likely to be caused by plaque on teeth or food debris on tongue.

With babies, we just love to cuddle and kiss them on their chubby cheeks. We will never imagine our babies having bad breath (that is so not cool!). So if you discover, while holding your baby to your nose, and smelling a whiff of bad breath, do not fret.

What causes Bad Breath in Babies

1. Drinking Too Much Milk

Is your baby drinking too much milk? Excess milk may cause them to regurgitate the milk or food back into their esophagus causing bad breath.

Acid reflux happens when the ring of muscles between the gullet and the stomach is not fully developed. When hungry babies drink too much milk, milk may flow backward and they throw up. This can be quite scary, but reflex in babies usually clears up by itself.

Age   OunceFrequency per day
1 Month2-4 6-8
2 Month 5-65-6
3-5 Month6-7 5-6
How Much Milk To Give Your Baby


Be sure to feed your baby the appropriate amount of milk. However, you can help by giving them smaller, frequent feeds. Burp your baby halfway through the feed, and hold them upright for 20 to 30 minutes after feeding.

2.  Putting Toys in their mouths

Babies love to put toys in their mouths. As they also salivate a lot, some of the saliva are transferred to these toys.

Over time, dried saliva along with bacteria can re-enter the mouth.

So it is good to wash the toys regularly and disinfect them under the sun.

Causes of Bad Breath in babies

 3. Food and drinks

If your baby has already started solids, foods may stick to their tongues and gums, causing bacteria to grow, which produces the bad smell.

Check for sugar in your baby’s diet as sugars feeds the bacteria in the mouth. By removing or limiting sugar, bad breath will rarely occur.

Bottle-fed babies tend to drink their milk before bedtime, and this leads to the accumulation of bacteria growth.

Simply wipe down your babies’ gums at least twice a day especially after feeds. Otherwise, switch to bottled water for last feed instead of milk, if they are dependent on bottles to fall asleep.

4. Thumb sucking

80 percent of babies like to suck their thumbs as their ways of soothing themselves.

However, this can lead to dry mouth with increased bacteria. Most children will give up this habit, with persistent ones, by age of 4. To overcome this, just use a warm, soft washcloth to clean your little one’s mouth, gums, and tongue regularly. If thumb sucking persists beyond 4 years and more, perhaps a doctor’s advice will be needed.

5. Pacifier use

The pacifier is an excellent collector of saliva and oral bacteria once it sits in your baby’s mouth.

With every frequent use, it starts to exhibit an unpleasant smell, and as it returns to his mouth, the bacteria get transferred to his mouth.

As a result, he gets bad breath.

Without frequent washing, pacifiers are sure agents for causing bad breath in babies. Either go cold turkey to removing the pacifier or take time to sterilize to remove the germs. Or do not introduce at all.

6. Mouth Breathing, Dry Mouth

Babies’ bad breath can also be a result of mouth breathing vs nose breathing.

Mouth breathing usually occurs as soon as the baby sleeps. The muscles in the mouth relax and the production of saliva stops, leaving the mouth dry.

Bacteria then grow. The longer the baby sleeps, the higher the bacteria in the mouth. That is why we all have this so-called “morning breath”. So this seems normal and no cause for worry.

7. Health conditions

In babies, certain health conditions are also known for causing bad breath in babies.

They are as follows:

  • Allergy or cold. In the instances of your babies having cold, extra mucus allows bacteria to grow, leading to bad breath. Just like adults, babies with stuffy nose will breathe through their mouths. Mouth breathing can result in a bad breath because their oral tissues become dry.
  • Nasal causes like a chronic sinus infection. With sinus attacks, fluid builds up in the nasal passages and drips down the back of the throat.

Usually, this will be accompanied by other symptoms such as prolonged runny nose and cough. Your child may also have nasal discharge and sneezing.

Even though it may look like a cold, it lasts longer and leads to stuffy sinus passages. This causes your baby to breathe through his mouth and dries up his saliva.

  • Enlarged tonsils. Grab a flashlight and look down your baby’s mouth. Healthy tonsils should be pink and spot free, while infected ones are red, swollen, and smell terrible. Bacteria collects at the back of the throat and together with the infected tonsils, produce bad breath. Your baby may feel uncomfortable and cry often.

In rare instances, bad breath can be a sign of more serious health conditions.

These health conditions may happen even though chances are quite rare.

  • Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when a pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that helps your body get energy from food. When this happens, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. One of the symptoms is bad breath.

  • Chronic Kidney Disease

This occurs when there is irreversible kidney damage or a reduction in kidney function. Symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include poor appetite, vomiting, headache and also bad breath.

Can Teething Cause Bad Breath in Babies?

Babies start to teeth around 6 months onwards, and with teeth, there can be chances of decay setting in.

Be sure to start brushing with a soft toothbrush so that you will be gentle on their gums. Use circular motions on their gums, with them seated on your lap.

How Can You Treat Bad Breath in Babies

Bad breath in babies can be prevented most of the times by simple oral habits. If the bad breath is caused by oral causes, simply brush and clean babies’ gums and tongues with a warm soft cloth after every feed.

Visit a dentist if you suspect of tooth decay, any infections or other health issues.

Home Remedies for Babies with Bad Breath

After you find out the causes for your baby’s bad breath whether it was due to milk or sugar, you can then set out to use some of these home remedies for curing their bad breaths.

1.  Clean Your Baby’s mouth often

Usually, a damp washcloth can do a perfect job, as their mouths are still small.

Wipe their tongue and gums gently, and any teeth that they may already have. Do this in the mornings, after milk feeds and naps, during baths and before sleep.

If your baby can spit out, teach him how to rinse his mouth.

2. Lots of Water

Give small amounts of water throughout the day. Check with your doctor when you can give water to babies if you are concerned.

Water will help to hydrate and also increase saliva production to wash away food particles that may linger in the mouth.

3. Avoid Sugar snacks and Drinks

Sugary snacks like biscuits tend to encourage more bacteria in the mouths. Constantly snacking also leads to higher chances of tooth decay.

4. Start the Toothbrushing Habit

Brush with a soft bristles toothbrush, and low fluoride toothpaste. It is good to introduce toothbrushing early so that your baby can get used to it.

Summing Up

There you have it.

Just like adults, babies are also prone to develop bad breath. There are a variety of different causes, from bacteria buildup in the mouth to stomach issues. Once you understand the cause of your baby’s bad breath, diligently work to get rid of it.

If symptoms do persist, and you are concerned about your baby’s bad breath, do seek medical advice.

Treating an underlying condition will improve bad breath, and soon your babies will have nice smelling baby’s breaths again.

If you like my article, please share it with your friends with babies.

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2 thoughts on “Causes of Bad Breath in Babies”

  1. Very interesting article. I didn’t realize babies could have bad breath. I can certainly see how wiping their mouth and gums would remove bacteria and help their developing teeth come in healthier. I am sure you will help many young mothers.


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