A lot of women report that their baby stinks like cheese even though the baby never eats cheese.

If your baby occasionally – or regularly – smells like a wedge of cheese or cheese puffs, you’ll be relieved to know that this problem can often be prevented, and that even in cases where you’ll just have to learn to adapt to it (depending on the cause), it does NOT signal a disease.

If someone is reluctant to hold your baby after you’ve asked if they’d like to hold her, maybe it’s because that person is detecting a very uninviting odor that you have grown desensitized to.

Causes of a Cheesy Smell in a Baby
Who Does Not Eat Cheese

“There are two common reasons a baby may smell like cheese,” says Dr. Lisa Lewis, MD, a board certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, and author of “Feed the Baby Hummus, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.”

“First, breast milk or formula breath may emit a cheese-like odor. Babies who spit up a lot have a sour smell, which can smell like cheese. The spit-up smell is from partially digested milk.

“Babies also tend to smell like cheese if the folds and creases [in their limbs] have a buildup of skin cells and environmental residue.

“Pudgy babies need to have the creases rinsed and gently washed (not scrubbed, as this may cause skin irritation).”

The inner skin of the creases and folds needs to be washed whenever you bathe your baby, and in fact, may need a separate rinsing on a daily basis.

The spit-up from your baby may also be finding its way inside the creases as it drips down the skin.

Also, when a baby is sucking milk, some of the milk may drip down the chin and then neck, making its way to an arm crease or even a leg crease.

If that dairy product then remains inside the fold long enough, it will sour and emit a bad odor.

People, including babies, will not smell of cheese simply because they ate this food. Nevertheless, it’s always important to keep track of what your baby eats and drinks.

Dr. Lewis has been a practicing pediatrician for over 20 years. She completed her pediatrics residency at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Scott and White Memorial Hospital where she served as chief resident.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock/Aaron Amat