Breastfed Baby Urine Smells Strong [Is This Normal?]

breastfed baby urine smells strong

Every new parent worries about their baby. One easy way to keep a check on your baby’s health is by checking their nappies. Your baby’s pee and poop can tell you a lot about their health. For example, once your baby is five days old, at least five wet nappies throughout the day are a clear indicator that your baby is hydrated and is getting enough milk. But sometimes parents notice that their baby has strong-smelling urine. Today we are discussing baby urine, smelly urine, and what it means.

Usually, a baby’s urine has little to no smell, but in the case of smelly urine, it could mean a lot of different things. First of all, if your baby is otherwise fine, showing signs of getting enough milk, and the urine is pale in color, then it could be completely normal and just a one-off case where your baby might have had a little less milk and that resulted in more concentrated urine. If your breastfed baby has strong-smelling urine and continues to have a strong odor, then it could mean that he or she is not getting enough milk or suffering from a urinary tract infection.

Before you hit the panic button, take a deep breath because this happens with a lot of babies. Let’s discuss why your baby’s urine might be smelling and what you can do to help your little one.

Does Breast Feeding Impact Your Baby’s Urine Smell?

When it comes to exclusively breastfed babies, a strong urine smell can simply be because of what you ate. A maternal diet can affect the baby’s urine and sometimes make it smell strong.

As a new mom, you might have heard that everything you eat and drink affects your baby. That’s why doctors always recommend avoiding alcohol and smoking, not just when you are pregnant, but also when you are breastfeeding. Your baby gets all the nutrition it needs from what you eat through your breast milk.

When you eat certain foods, it can make your baby’s pee smell.

Foods A Breast Feeding Mom Eats That May Cause A Strong Smell In Baby’s Urine

While there is no scientific evidence backing which foods can actually make your baby’s pee smell, there are some common foods that are known to trigger this. If you notice that your baby’s urine smells, think about what you ate for dinner last night.

When you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, what you eat can influence your baby’s pee smell. Many vegetables and herbs, when eaten by the mother, can affect the baby’s urine odor. Below are some foods that a lot of mammas out there can vouch for when it comes to making the baby’s urine smell strong.

  1. Asparagus: This one tops the list as it is known to cause pee to smell strong even in adults. It contains high asparagusic acid content which, when broken down, causes chemicals to release, leading to a strong urine smell both for mamma and baby.
  2. Onion: Onions release methyl mercaptan during digestion, so if you have enjoyed some nice caramelized onions on your burgers for dinner, then your baby’s urine might smell strong.
  3. Garlic: Garlic belongs to the same family as onions and that’s exactly why this pungent-smelling vegetable can make your baby’s urine smell like you ate too much garlic!
  4. Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts make a great healthy snack, but when broken down by your system, they can release digestive chemicals that can make your pee and the baby’s pee smell strong.

These are some of the known culprits that can make your baby’s diaper stink in the morning. The next time you notice this, make a note of what you ate throughout the day before you jump to conclusions, and avoid that food if you are not a fan of foul-smelling urine.

Additionally, if the mother is taking antibiotics, it can also cause the baby’s urine to emit a strange smell. Everything that the mother ingests affects the breast milk, including medicines like antibiotics, and they get passed on to the baby.

Baby Urine Smell Causes

Whether you are breastfeeding your little one or formula-feeding, chances are that you might notice smelly urine at some point. Usually, baby pee has a very mild or no smell; that’s why those wet nappies are a sign that your little one is eating and peeing well.

Sometimes, due to various reasons, baby pee smells strong and leaves behind a stinking diaper. The human body works by processing all the food we eat, and the kidneys filter out the waste and release the extra water content from the body in the form of urine. The same happens in your little one’s system as well, so, depending on the food your little one ate or if you are a breastfeeding mom, what you ate will affect your baby’s urine smell.

Apart from what you or your baby ate, strong-smelling urine can be caused by other reasons like dehydration or a urinary tract infection (UTI). If your baby’s urine has a vinegar-like smell, then it could be a sign that he or she is about to get a cold or suffering from a UTI or dehydration.

When Baby Urine Smell May Be A Reason To Call The Doctor

breastfed baby urine smells strong

When it comes to babies, it is always best to consult your doctor whenever you feel something is off. Always pay attention to your motherly instinct! Also, rather than panicking or self-diagnosing, it is best to get professional advice. When it comes to a baby’s urine, here are some of the instances when you should consult your pediatrician immediately:

  1. The second or third pee also smells very strong and has a dark/deep color.
  2. You notice your baby is crying while passing urine or in discomfort while pooping.
  3. Your baby is not feeding well or refusing formula after a few sips.
  4. You notice blood in the baby’s pee.
  5. Your baby’s pee has a sweet smell, which could be a sign of diabetes.
  6. Your baby’s wet diapers attract lots of ants; this could be a sign of high sugar content in the pee.
  7. You notice stool in your baby’s pee, passed along with the urine.
  8. Your baby’s urine is any shade other than pale yellow, along with a strong odor.

If your baby’s pee smells or you notice something weird, consult your doctor right away, before it can get more serious. While many times it may not be anything to worry about, it is always better to check with a professional and rule out any possibilities.

Baby May Have A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

If your baby has strong-smelling urine combined with fever, then it could be a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTIs happen when bacteria, which usually dwell in the intestine, enter the urinary tract. These bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra or the blood and lymph. If the bacteria enter through the urethra, it infects the lower urinary tract, but if it enters through lymph or blood, then it affects the kidneys and bladder, which can lead to serious problems. Regardless of how the bacteria enter the body, the urine carrying this bacteria needs to be released. If this does not happen, then it leads to a UTI.

While a urinary tract infection is not contagious, it can be very painful for the baby as it causes a burning sensation and discomfort while peeing, which then also leads to smelly urine.

If you are wondering how the bacteria enter your baby’s urinary tract, there are two ways:

  • If a soiled diaper is unchanged for some time, then it can be an easy opportunity for the bacteria to enter the urinary tract through the urethra.
  • If your baby is toilet trained but your little one does not clean the bottom properly, then the chances of an infection increase. UTI is more common in girls because, anatomically, the urethra is much closer to the anus in girls.

Sometimes babies might get UTIs because of their body’s function and genetic structure.

If your baby’s urine smell like ammonia, then it is a clear sign of urinary tract infections. Occasional smell like ammonia is normal but if it persists then you need to consult your doctor.

Baby May Be Dehydrated

Exclusively breastfeeding your baby can be tiring and sometimes worrying as well because you are not sure if your baby is getting enough milk. It can be hard to judge if your milk supply is enough. During those initial months, if your baby has five to six wet diapers throughout the day, it means that your milk supply is good and your baby is getting enough nourishment.

If you notice that the urine of your breastfed baby smells strong, then it could be a sign that they are not getting enough to eat. Along with foul-smelling urine, highly concentrated urine and a dark yellow color are signs of dehydration. Babies rely on breastmilk or formula for all of their nutrition and if they aren’t getting what they need, it will cause the urine to be more concentrated, strong-smelling, and also pale in color.

If you feel that your baby is dehydrated, try to feed more frequently and consult your doctor immediately to see how you can help your little one.

Decoding Baby’s Urine Smell Strong

The urine of a breastfed baby is largely affected by what the mom eats and drinks throughout the day. Finding the cause of smelly urine is important when it comes to babies is important in order to put all of your worries to rest. Now that you are armed with all the information you need about the baby’s pee smells, we hope you can take a deep breath and make an informed decision about what to do next.

Those wet diapers can be a sign of your little one’s well-being and smelly pee can mean a lot of different things. Find out the cause of the strong smell and don’t worry—there are plenty of treatment options available. Just remember to check those nappies and keep doing your best!

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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