Baby’s Bad Breath: Causes, Prevention, and How to Treat Bad Breath in toddlers

baby bad breath causes

Halitosis or bad breath refers to the unpleasant odors that come from the mouth.

Even though adults are the ones who usually experience this issue, babies and toddlers can suffer from bad breath too.

Most people associate halitosis with bad oral hygiene practices in the case of adults. While something similar may the reason behind a baby’s bad breath, there are other factors involved.

More often than not, halitosis in infants is not a severe health issue. But, if it persists and lasts more than just a day or so, it could be a sign of a disease.


Eating pungent foods: usually, the element that causes the infant’s bad breath gets traced back to what the baby ate.

Meals with garlic and onions can affect the children’s breath for the time their bodies process the food.

Dry Mouth: when infants breath through their mouths, the bacteria located in that area will be capable of growing without much trouble.

The activity of these microorganisms results in a foul smell coming from the baby’s mouth.

A foreign object: almost everything that the children can reach could quickly end up in their mouths. Infants seem to love bitting their toys, as well as other objects that catch their attention.

The bacteria found on the surface of toys could be another cause of halitosis.

Sometimes, out of curiosity, toddlers put such foreign objects in their nose as well. In time, sticking peas, beans, and even small toys in their noses can give the babies bad breath.

Poor oral hygiene: while it’s true that toddlers don’t care about keeping their mouths clean, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to maintain good oral health.

Cavities and tartar build-up can cause halitosis at any age. That is why parents must brush their babies’ teeth, or follow recommendations of a pediatrician depending on their child’s age.

Tonsillitis: also known as Pharyngitis, refers to an inflammation of the tonsils (two lymph nodes found on each side of the back of the throat).

This condition can cause a sore throat, decreased appetite, increased drooling, fever, and halitosis.

Sinus Infection or Sinusitis: it refers to an inflammation of the nasal passages, also known as sinus cavities or sinuses.

Several babies can get Sinusitis when they suffer from a cold, and one of the symptoms of this infections is halitosis because of the sinuses drain into the back of the throat.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): it occurs when stomach acid frequently leaks up into the esophagus.

Most babies spit up, but when the severity of their spitting up changes, becomes more frequent, and it’s difficult to feed them, then the cause of their symptoms, which will likely include halitosis, is GERD.

However, this is the last possible cause of stinky breath in the case of babies.

Several other conditions and infections can result in halitosis along with a wide variety of symptoms.


Medical experts advise parents to maintain their kids’ oral hygiene. They also recommend washing the children’s toys, as infants tend to put them in their mouths.

Parents should also sterilize pacifiers if their children use them. They can use boiling water to carry out such task.

If the babies are only a few weeks old, their caretakers can wipe their gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth after they had a meal.

Children will start to develop teeth before reaching the age of 3 years old. At this moment, parents should begin brushing their kids’ teeth by using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste twice per day.

People do well in taking their kids to the dentist, as a dental health expert can help to keep the children’s mouth clean and healthy.

How to Treat Bad Breath in toddlers

More often than not, parents can deal with their children’s bad breath, due to the usual causes being relatively simple.

The first measure parents can take to eliminate their babies’ halitosis is gently brushing the gums and few teeth of the kids by using a soft rubber or a toothbrush.

Medical experts recommend making the babies drink a little water to remove the milk residues left on their gums and tongue.

If bad breath persists, parents should seek immediate medical attention due to the possibility of an infection or a disease.