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I realized that my sweet 5 year old actually has a strong body odor. What can I do at such a young age?

Recently I noticed that my 5 year old girl has relatively strong BO. I didn't think it was possible at such a young age and had never investigated the source of this smell until a few days ago. The fact that despite all this baby/child beauty and body products out there, there is no such thing as child deodorant. Is my child not normal? Is there something wrong with her diet or could this be a sign of a health problem? I am both a bit shocked, embarrassed and at a complete loss. I cannot believe it that even though I bathe her everyday, at the end of the day, she still smells quite strongly under the arms. Any advice is most welcome.

Answers
User
Sept. 18, 2018

Our daughter had the same issue beginning at 4 years old.  My partner, a pediatrician, said that it might have to do with diet (dairy), but we needed a simple approach that was quick because I didn't want my daughter smelling of BO at school (or home).  We purchased a fragrance free deodorant (NOT antiperspirant) for sensitive skin.  I apply it after bath.  Problem solved.  Best of luck!

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It's not terribly uncommon for kids to need it early on, so don't worry or be embarrassed. A close friend of mine growing up used deodorant when we were in the first grade, and I remember a few things (and just did a little extra research to make sure it still makes sense):

  • Don't use anitperspirant. The main ingredient in antiperspirant is aluminum, which can cause irritation when you're young. Also, a body needs to sweat sometimes, so it's not worth blocking this process for someone so young.
  • Try deodorant soap, if you haven't already. Most studies have shown that it doesn't do terribly much, but it's cheap, easy, and worth a try.
  • Keep the deodorant as simple as possible. Tom's of Maine is a good place to start as far as ingredients go.
  • There are some DIY deodorants you could try too. The magnesium in Milk of Magnesia can work great: just fill up an empty roller with the liquid, or apply it with cotton balls. Since you might have some of this around the house, give it a go.
But most importantly, this isn't some bizarre abnormality in your daughter, so no need to treat it (or her) like one. It's just the type of thing you don't tend to talk about all the time :) Good luck!
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User in Larkspur, CA
Aug. 23, 2018

Body odor is such a common issue. When my son, currently 11YO, started having body odor around the ages of 4/5 I was shocked. I worried that it was just that he was wearing dirty clothes at first, but that definitely wasn't it. As it turns out he just had REALLY strong body odor. As it actually turns out, he was having problems because of a lactose allergy. He wasn't doing very well with cow's milk, and we found the simply removing dairy from his diet helped an immense amount. This may have nothing to do with your child's body odor, but it's something to consider. When your child has an allergy is can "come out" in a variety of ways. One being body odor. 

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Body odor at a young age is definitely a pain! I love some of the suggestions people have given about avoiding antiperspirants and sticking to simple deodorants. That being said, I would discuss her body odor with her pediatrician. In rare cases, body odor can be a sign of precocious puberty due to increased levels of hormones. Your pediatrician can do a thorough exam to make sure there aren't any other signs - breast development, pubic or underarm hair, acne etc. Here's a good article with more information: 

A link Precocious Puberty (for Parents) - KidsHealth
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Mine was 5 years old when i noticed the odor. I was so saddened and confused why she had it at young age. I was all over internet searching for deodorants wondering if it is even possible to have that smell at 5. She was well taken care of being the only child and i stay at home. Ended up making my own deodorant for her. Baking soda and corn starch with a coconut oil plus a couple drops of essential oil for fragrance. It worked. She's 8 now!

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Same problem here. Started when she was three, almost four. VERY strong body odor. Through much trial and error figured out that removing lactose helped immensely. It’s hard as milk is in everything. Switched to lactose free milk, cottage cheese, coconut yogurt, and cheddar&parmesan ( they are aged cheeses and contain less lactose). Gone are he days of buying pizzas; we make them with a medium cheddar now. Good luck! I can tell almost immediately if she’s eaten something she shouldn’t when I pick up from Daycare.

Tonya in Walworth, WI
Aug. 27, 2018

I think I may have to do the same thing. 😔 what type of bread do you now use and what about snacks like goldfish? My daughter has such bad body odor and I’ve tried organic milk and it doesn’t seem to help. I’m thinking lactose intolerance, I guess I need to look into it. What kid if cheese do you get for grilled cheese and such? Thanks!

Organic milk didn't work for us either. I had to switch to lactose free. I notice less of a problem with baked good, such as bread. For us the blaring problem foods are milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, cream based soups. We don't buy goldfish, mac & cheese, pizza, etc... When anything calls for cheese we use a sharp cheddar, such as in grilled cheese. There are sharp cheddar cheese sticks, shredded and sliced cheese. I find this this helps a lot, but doesn't eliminate the odor completely. It's a lot of trial and error. I've also had success in the "gluten free" section at the grocery store. Many (but not all) gluten free items are also dairy free. Some my daughter likes and some she doesn't. Good luck!

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Ash in Massena, NY
Aug. 23, 2018

My son is having the same problem but I find it very strange that it started after a recent bout of chicken pox. He's age 5. It's his underarm and I'm absolutely past myself worried. Tried organic milk but no difference. I just don't want him picked on at school as kids can be so cruel. Any help is appreciated. Should I be concerned about any underlying health problems as he's otherwise fit and well. Thanks

Julie in London, AR
Sept. 25, 2018

Hi Ash, My dd who is also 5 had the same problem and also started during chickenpox. Have you managed to get to the bottom of it? Thanks

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My daughter has been having the same problem and I am going to try the change to lactose free dairy. I have found a good deodorant called Fresh Kidz that is very safe and effective. Got it on Amazon :)

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