This Is Why Your Baby's Breath Smells Sour

As a new parent, every sudden change in your baby's condition is a potential cause for panic. Naturally, a baby can't explain why he or she is suddenly uncomfortable or screaming bloody murder, and it can be frustrating trying to figure out how to help with essentially no information.  

Sour or bad breath isn't too much of a cause of concern, at least not comparatively speaking, but it can be a symptom of something deeper. Whether your baby's sour breath is trying to signal an oral health issue or something worse, thankfully there are things you can do to tackle it — panic averted once again. 

First off, as a Healthline piece explains, it could be something simple. Our mouths are loaded with bacteria, which tends to be the most common cause of bad breath. If you have a toddler with brush-able teeth, ensure you do a thorough job, paying attention particularly to the tongue.

However, chronic sinusitis can also be a possible cause of bad breath, particularly if it's accompanied by other symptoms, including a prolonged runny nose, cough, or a nasal obstruction, which is when a piece of food, for example, is trapped in the nasal cavity. Plenty of water, proper oral hygiene, and clearing your child's nose to remove the obstruction should clear it up, but if it doesn't improve or gets worse, call your doctor immediately.

Sour breath could also hint at something more serious

On the more serious side of things, sour smelling breath could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux. This type of reflux is harder to diagnose because, as Today's Parent warns, it's not often accompanied by spitting up. It will, however, make your baby fussy and irritable. 

Their tiny digestive systems aren't as fully developed as ours, so their stomachs get full much more rapidly. Babies also spend most of their time lying on their backs, which contributes to this kind of reflux. As Dr. Sears advises, gastroesophageal reflux causes painful stomach acids to be regurgitated into the esophagus, leading to what we would commonly refer to as heartburn. It can even lead to wheezing or asthma, as well as frequent night-waking, writhing around, and intense crying (more than the typical variety). 

You should consult your doctor if concerned this is the cause of your baby's sour breath, as medication may be required to treat it, but there are some home remedies you can try to ease discomfort. This includes keeping your baby upright for at least half an hour after feeding, feeding in smaller, more frequent increments, and wearing a carrier more often, as babies tend to reflux while crying. A considerable percentage of babies experience reflux during the first three months of their lives, so don't worry, as they'll typically outgrow it as they get older, but if you have concerns, bring it up with your child's doctor.