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Strong smelling urine infant: Strong Smelling Urine In Babies – 4 Reasons For Smelly Urine


Strong Smelling Urine In Babies – 4 Reasons For Smelly Urine

Strong smelling urine in babies

New parents quickly become experts in changing nappies. After all, they change wet or dirty nappies several times every day. Parents often take a lot of notice of what they see in their babies’ nappies too, because it’s one way they can tell if their baby is getting enough milk.

From around day five onwards, a baby having at least five wet nappies is one reliable way to help determine if a baby is getting enough milk, especially if the urine is pale in colour.

But what about if your baby has strong smelling urine? Is it something to worry about? Here are 4 reasons why your baby might have strong smelling urine.

#1: Baby’s strong smelling urine may be normal

Strong smelling urine in a baby may be normal if:

  • Your baby is otherwise well
  • Your baby is showing reliable signs of getting enough milk
  • Baby’s urine is pale in colour, despite being strong smelling.

Although the urine of babies tends to have little odour, as they grow older it may start to smell of ammonia. Or perhaps someone else who doesn’t usually change your baby’s nappy isn’t used to the smell. Or maybe you got a whiff closer to your baby’s nappy than you have before.

Nonetheless, if you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor – at the very least, your peace of mind will be worth it.

#2: It may be a urinary tract infection

Canadian researchers found parent-reported foul-smelling urine in babies was associated with a urinary tract infection (UTI). This does not mean strong smelling urine always means your baby has a UTI. In this study, around one-third of the time when a baby’s urine was foul-smelling, there was no UTI. 

If your baby has strong smelling urine, it’s a good idea to get a doctor to examine your baby, especially if your baby also has a fever or seems out of sorts.

#3: It may be something you ate

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s possible that something you ate could influence the smell of your baby’s urine.

Anecdotally, some breastfeeding mothers have reported that eating a lot of asparagus, onion or garlic can make their baby’s urine smell differently.

Other breastfeeding mothers have reported that when they’ve taken antibiotics, its has temporarily changed the smell of their baby’s urine too.

#4: Smelly urine may mean your baby needs more milk

Another reason why your baby’s urine may be strong smelling is that they may not be getting enough milk. If a baby isn’t drinking enough milk, this makes their urine more concentrated, stronger smelling and less pale in colour.

If you’re concerned your baby may not be getting enough milk, seek medical advice without delay.

If you’re breastfeeding and you discover your supply is low, there are ways you can increase it.

Strong smelling urine is unlikely to be teething

Sometimes strong smelling urine, as well as a wide range of other signs and symptoms, gets blamed on teething. However, evidence to support the link between teething and strong smelling urine doesn’t exist. Before assuming any of your baby’s signs and symptoms are the result of teething, it’s important for any issues to be investigated by a doctor, so there’s no delay in starting the appropriate treatment if required.

Armed with information about possible reasons why your baby might have strong smelling urine, take a deep breath, as now you hopefully have a clearer idea and plan of what action you may like to take.

You may also be interested in these BellyBelly articles:

UTIs in Children: How Can I Tell if My Child Has a Urinary Tract Infection?

According to Babycenter.com, about 8 percent of girls and 2 percent of boys will have at least one UTI, or urinary tract infection, during childhood. UTIs happen when bacteria gets in the urine by way of bloodstream or skin around the genitals. This can create an infection and inflammation of the urinary tract.

If your kids are older than 4-years old, they can probably describe what they are feeling when they’re in pain or uncomfortable. But for babies that cannot talk or toddlers who are just learning to put sentences together, how can you very well pinpoint what is wrong with them when it can be so many different things? And if you’ve never dealt with a urinary tract infection (UTI) before, you probably don’t know what signs to look out for.

So here’s what you should check for to determine if your child should see a doctor:

Most Obvious Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Babies or Toddlers

  1. Most Obvious Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection in Babies or Toddlers
    1.   Odd-smelling Urine: The most obvious symptom of a UTI is odd-smelling urine. The foul odor comes from the bacteria that has entered into the urinary tract. For babies and toddlers, do a smell check of their diaper to see if the urine smells different than normal. Not all babies or children will have odd-smelling urine during a urinary tract infection but you can’t miss it if it happens to them.
    1.   Cloudy or Bloody Urine: Hematuria, or blood in the urine, is fairly common and UTIs and typically doesn’t signify anything serious unless an infection has gone untreated for an extended amount of time. Bloody urine will be a lot easier to spot on a diaper than cloudy urine but sometimes the blood is so microscopic that only a urine test will detect it.

    Other Telltale Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections

    1.   Fever: Not all babies with a UTI have a fever, and for some babies, fever is the only symptom they’ll show with a UTI. The rule of thumb is that if the fever reaches above 100.4 for a baby under 3 months, 101 for a 3-6 month old, or 103 for babies and children 6 months or older, you should seek medical advice. Even if your baby or toddler has a low-grade fever that won’t go away, you should take them to see a doctor for testing. Vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea may also accompany a UTI but these symptoms can be mistaken for a variety of illnesses.
    1.   Crying or Unexplained Irritability: Babies cry for many reasons so it’s hard to tell sometimes why they are crying especially for first time moms. Are they just wanting to be held? Or are they in pain from colic, constipation, or a urinary tract infection? When you’ve covered all the possibilities within your control – fed them, changed them, burped them, made sure they’re not too hot or cold – watch to see how often they have bouts of irritability.  The good news is that UTIs are usually easy to treat but can cause permanent kidney failure and damage if left untreated. So if your child has any of the above symptoms or other unusual symptoms, it’s best to have them seen and tested by a medical professional. You can take your child to an ER clinic for urgent care and attention, especially if it’s after hours, and you cannot see your pediatrician.A UTI is most painful during urination. If you notice sporadic fussiness and irritability, monitor your child while they urinate. Some toddlers can respond if you ask them if it hurts when they go potty. For babies, it’ll be a little harder and may take a little longer to assess. Take their diaper off, and watch for their next urination. If they cry or look like they are in pain, take them to the doctor immediately.


Just A Dirty Diaper, Or Worse? Smelly Urine May Mean Infection : Shots

Stinky urine in a feverish child should be a red flag for doctors.


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If you’ve spent any time around very young children, you know they can sometimes be pretty stinky. But particularly pungent urine in a child who is fussy or feverish could be a sign of infection.

Urinary tract infections are common in kids, leading to more than 1 million visits to pediatricians’ offices each year in the U.S. Bacteria or other microbes enter the body and can infect the urethra (urethritis), bladder (cystitis) and kidneys (pyelonephritis). Antibiotics knock out most cases, though serious infections may cause kidney scarring or blood poisoning if not treated.

So it’s important to diagnose quickly, which can be difficult to do in children younger than 3. The symptoms — unexplained fever, irritability or vomiting — aren’t all that specific, and collecting a reliable urine sample usually involves a catheter, which is invasive.

Reports of stinky urine in a feverish child should be another red flag for doctors, according to a newly published study by Canadian researchers in Pediatrics.

“If the child has fever and at the same time his urine smells stronger than usual, the risk of having a urine infection is a little bit increased compared to a child not having smelly urine,” Dr. Marie Gauthier, a pediatrician at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center in Montreal, tells Shots.

She and her fellow researchers studied 331 children ranging in age from 1 month to 3 years old who were brought into Sainte-Justine’s emergency room and had a urine culture because doctors suspected infection. Parents were asked to complete an eight-question survey, including two questions about whether their child’s urine smelled stronger than normal or offensive.

Parents mentioned malodorous pee in 57 percent of the 51 kids diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and in 32 percent of the 280 children who didn’t have infection, according to the Pediatrics report.

Gauthier says the foul odor may be due to the production of ammonia from bacteria. While this is often cited as a symptom of urinary tract infection, previous studies have been contradictory.

She emphasizes that the latest findings are mostly something for doctors to think about, not parents.

Stinky pee accompanied by fever increases the likelihood of infection — but the association isn’t strong enough to make a diagnosis one way or the other, Gauthier says. Still, the presence of another risk factor might help doctors decide whether to collect urine from a child when doing so might require invasive measures.

“I think that most of us do not ask parents this question when we assess a young child in the ER for unexplained fever,” says Gauthier, who also teaches at the University of Montreal’s Department of Pediatrics. “If the answer is yes, well, it’s not necessarily a reason to do a urine test, but we should be a little bit more cautious.”

Other things can also cause a funny smell. If a child hasn’t eaten for 12 or 24 hours and has vomited and is a little dehydrated, it could cause a different or strong odor, she says. Certain foods such as asparagus can also produce a funky whiff.

So when should parents be concerned? Gauthier says if a young child has an unexplained fever for more than 24 hours, call the doctor.

Why Does My Baby’s Pee Smell Like Ammonia?

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You’re changing your little one and suddenly you get a whiff of ammonia. You smell around the room and notice that the smell is central to your little one.

A small investigation leads to the conclusion that your baby’s pee smells like ammonia. This can be caused by anything from specific foods and vitamins to bacteria or an infection.

It’s important to learn the causes of this, how to prevent it, and when to call the doctor to make sure that your little one is safe. 

Make Sure It Isn’t The Cloth Diapers

Sometimes, you can think that your little one has pee that smells like ammonia when it’s really just the cloth diapers you’re using. There are several things that can lead to cloth diapers having an ammonia smell.

A build-up of detergent on the diaper is one thing that is known to result in them smelling like ammonia. Mineral build-up from hard water, well water, or any other water that has a high content of minerals in it is another common cause.

You could also not be getting your diapers as clean as they need to be, resulting in an odor. These are all common reasons you could smell ammonia during a diaper change. 

To make sure that it isn’t your cloth diapers, wait until you wash a batch. Then, take a whiff when they are dry. If they have a faint ammonia smell, it’s the cloth diapers. If not, it’s your little one’s pee.

Baby’s Urine Smells Strong Like Ammonia?

It’s extremely common for a baby to have urine that smells like ammonia. There can be quite a few different causes.

It’s important to accurately determine the cause so that you can make sure that your baby is healthy, and to ensure that they do not continue to smell like ammonia. 

Urinary Tract Infection

When bacteria gets in your little one’s urinary tract, it results in the same bacteria being present in their urine. This can make their pee smell like ammonia.

It’s not common for babies to have a UTI, but they’re pretty easy for babies to get. Diapers are full of bacteria when soiled, making it all too easy for that bacteria to get into other places.

Other signs of a urinary tract infection include: 

  • Strong smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Bloody urine
  • Fever
  • Excessive crying that is not otherwise explained

A urinary tract infection can cause severe kidney damage if left untreated. If you are not sure why the baby pee smells like ammonia, it can’t hurt to take them to the doctor to double-check. 


Most smaller children get all of the fluid that they need from a bottle. Older children that are on baby food might not get enough liquids if they are eating a lot of baby food.

During hotter months when little one’s sweat, it can lead to dehydration. Other common causes of dehydration include: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Illness, such as a cold
  • High fever
  • Hot weather

If you’re concerned that your baby’s pee smells like ammonia due to dehydration, watch for these other signs and symptoms: 

  • Dry skin
  • Cracked lips
  • No tears when crying
  • A soft spot appears sunken in
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Less than six wet diapers in one day

If you notice any of these signs, contact your pediatrician immediately. You can also pick up some Pedialyte to give your little one to help hydrate them. 

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  • Replaces electrolytes: a flavorful way for kids and adults to replace electrolytes to feel better fast.
  • More effective than common beverages: designed to replace fluids and electrolytes more effectively than sports drinks, Pedialyte provides an optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes to prevent mild to moderate dehydration.It’s medical-grade hydration.
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Certain Foods

If your little one is beyond trying one baby food at a time and you’re finally feeding them plenty of solids, you can expect to see quite a bit of diversity in their poop and pee. Specific foods are known for making a baby’s pee smell like ammonia.

These include: 

  • Foods high in protein, like eggs
  • Asparagus
  • A lot of Vitamin B
  • Brussel sprouts

Other foods might make urine smell, but these ones are known for making it smell like ammonia. If your baby’s pee smells like ammonia, try switching their diet if you like. If it’s caused by foods, however, it’s rarely a reason for concern. 

Why Does My Breastfed Baby’s Urine Smell Strong?

If your little one is exclusively breastfed, you’re already well aware that it can’t be food causing the strong smell. It might still be due to the above mentioned (dehydration, urinary tract infection) though.

In addition to those reasons, there are a couple of other things that can lead to a breastfed baby’s urine smelling strong. 

Not Drinking Enough Milk

If your little one is not eating enough when they are feeding, it can lead to their urine to be more concentrated. This can also result in your baby’s pee smelling strong.

When you breastfeed, it can be hard to measure how much your baby is drinking. Keep an eye on your little one for signs of dehydration, and make sure that your baby is eating until they are full.

Lactation experts in your area can provide further assistance if you’re having a hard time breastfeeding.

Something You Ate

While your baby may be exclusively breastfed, you’re still getting a wide range of food in your diet, and this is being passed on to your baby via breast milk.

If your diet is rich with foods like garlic, onions, or asparagus, this could be the culprit. These foods are well-known for being the reason that baby pee smells strong. 

It’s Normal

As your baby gets older, it’s normal that their pee smells a little bit like ammonia. If your baby is otherwise healthy, there is more than likely nothing to be concerned about.

However, it’s still a good idea to check with your pediatrician to make sure that your little one is not suffering from an infection. 

Does Your Baby’s Pee Smell Like Poop?

Baby pee that smells strong like poop can be both confusing and alarming. Sometimes, it’s perfectly normal, though. Double-check for these things to find the reason that your little one’s pee smells so strongly. 

Something You Ate

If you freeze breast milk, it could easily be something that you ate. However, if the breast milk was pumped four weeks ago, you might not remember exactly what you had to eat that day.

Foods are a well-known cause for leading to foul-smelling urine. Likewise, if your baby is on solid foods, it could be something that they ate. 


We don’t always hear it when our baby passes gas, and some of them have the potential to clear an entire room. If your baby passed gas right before you changed the diaper, or they are known for having excessive gas, it could easily be a silent fart.

Sometimes, the smell seems to get trapped inside of their diaper, so you smell it when you take the diaper off. 


Vaginal infections can have a smell that can be described as smelling like feces. Urinary tract infections are known for making a baby’s pee smell like ammonia, but they can also cause it to smell like poop.

If your baby’s pee smells like poop, it could be an infection. Contact your pediatrician to double-check. 

Baby’s Urine is Smelly Like Vinegar

Babies can’t always tell us what is wrong, which is why it’s important to keep an eye out for anything that seems out of the ordinary. If your baby’s urine is smelly like vinegar, that’s a sign that something is off.

It could be any of the things mentioned above, such as something you ate or a urinary tract infection. It could also be a sign of dehydration (remember to check the color of the pee to double-check for dehydration).

If none of those fit, or your pediatrician has ruled out a UTI, these other common things could be the reason. 

Scented Diapers

If you recently switched diaper brands, it could be the diaper itself instead of the urine. Sometimes, the smell of your little one’s pee mixes with the scent of the diaper to create a less than pleasant smell.

This is a common reason for noticing a vinegar-like smell when changing your baby’s diaper. 


This a common sign that your baby is not feeling well. It could indicate an infection, such as a UTI. This smell could also mean that your little one is coming down with a cold.

If your baby is already sick, this is more than likely the reason why you are noticing a vinegar smell. Keep an eye on it, and give your doctor a call if it does not subside on its own. 

High Lactic Acid Or Acid Reflux

Both of these result in more acid in their belly, which results in their bodily fluids smelling a bit sourer, from their breath to their urine. If your little one has acid reflux, you might see this come and go for months.

Likewise, if you have done anything that might increase the amount of lactic acid in your breast milk or naturally have more, it’s normal to notice this smell as well.

For example, probiotics are known for increasing levels of lactic acid. Smell your breast milk to determine if it smells sour. If it does, that’s why your baby’s wet diapers smell like vinegar. 

When you notice that your baby urine smells strongly of poop, vinegar, or another odor, always remember that it can be normal or a sign of something abnormal.

Look through possible causes to determine the root of the problem and give your little one’s doctor a call just in case. 

Amber Dixon

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I’ve learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!

Urinary Tract Infections In Babies

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Junge, RN, BSNKatie Brind’Amour, MSKatie Thomas, APRKatrina Hall, MA, CCLSKatrina Ruege, LPCC-SKatya Harfmann, MDKayla Zimpfer, PCCKelley SwopeKelli Dilver, PT, DPTKelly AbramsKelly BooneKelly HustonKelly J. Kelleher, MDKelly McNally, PhDKelly N. Day, CPNP-PCKelly Pack, LISW-SKelly Tanner,PhD, OTR/L, BCPKelly Wesolowski, PsyDKent Williams, MDKevin Bosse, PhDKevin Klingele, MDKim Bjorklund, MDKim Hammersmith, DDS, MPH, MSKimberly Bates, MDKimberly Sisto, PT, DPT, SCSKimberly Van Camp, PT, DPT, SCSKirk SabalkaKris Jatana, MD, FAAPKrista Winner, AuD, CCC-AKristen Armbrust, LISW-SKristen Cannon, MDKristen Martin, OTR/LKristi Roberts, MS MPHKristina Booth, MSN, CFNPKristina Reber, MDKyle DavisLance Governale, MDLara McKenzie, PhD, MALaura Brubaker, BSN, RNLaura DattnerLaurel Biever, LPCLauren Durinka, AuDLauren Garbacz, PhDLauren Justice, OTR/L, MOTLauren Madhoun, MS, CCC-SLPLauryn RozumLee Hlad, DPMLeena Nahata, MDLelia Emery, MT-BCLeslie Appiah, MDLinda Stoverock, DNP, RN NEA-BCLindsay Pietruszewski, PT, DPTLindsay SchwartzLindsey Vater, PsyDLisa GoldenLisa M. Humphrey, MDLogan Blankemeyer, MA, CCC-SLPLori Grisez PT, DPTLorraine Kelley-QuonLouis Bezold, MDLourdes Hill, LPCC-S Luke Tipple, MS, CSCSLynda Wolfe, PhDLyndsey MillerLynn RosenthalLynne Ruess, MDMaggy Rule, MS, AT, ATCMahmoud Kallash, MDManmohan K Kamboj, MDMarc Levitt, MDMarc P. Michalsky, MDMarcel J. Casavant, MDMarci Johnson, LISW-SMarco Corridore, MDMargaret Bassi, OTR/LMaria HaghnazariMaria Vegh, MSN, RN, CPNMarissa Condon, BSN, RNMarissa LarouereMark E. Galantowicz, MDMark Smith, MS RT R (MR), ABMP PhysicistMarnie Wagner, MDMary Ann Abrams, MD, MPHMary Fristad, PhD, ABPPMary Kay SharrettMary Shull, MDMatthew Washam, MD, MPHMeagan Horn, MAMegan Brundrett, MDMegan Dominik, OTR/LMegan FrancisMegan Letson, MD, M.EdMeghan Cass, PT, DPTMeghan Fisher, BSN, RNMeika Eby, MDMelanie Fluellen, LPCCMelanie Luken, LISW-SMelissa McMillen, CTRSMelissa Winterhalter, MDMeredith Merz Lind, MDMichael Flores, PhDMichael T. Brady, MDMike Patrick, MDMindy Deno, PT, DPTMolly Gardner, PhDMonica Ardura, DOMonica EllisMonique Goldschmidt, MDMotao Zhu, MD, MS, PhDNancy AuerNancy Cunningham, PsyDNaomi Kertesz, MDNatalie Powell, LPCC-S, LICDC-CSNatalie Rose, BSN, RNNathalie Maitre, MD, PhDNationwide Children’s HospitalNationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health ExpertsNeetu Bali, MD, MPHNehal Parikh, DO, MSNichole Mayer, OTR/L, MOTNicole Caldwell, MDNicole Dempster, PhDNicole Parente, LSWNicole Powell, PsyD, BCBA-DNkeiruka Orajiaka, MBBSOliver Adunka, MD, FACSOlivia Thomas, MDOmar Khalid, MD, FAAP, FACCOnnalisa Nash, CPNP-PCOula KhouryPaige Duly, CTRSParker Huston, PhDPatrick C. Walz, MDPatrick Queen, BSN, RNPedro Weisleder, MDPeter Minneci, MDPeter White, PhDPreeti Jaggi, MDRachael Morocco-Zanotti, DORachel D’Amico, MDRachel Schrader, CPNP-PCRachel Tyson, LSWRajan Thakkar, MDRaymond Troy, MDRebecca Fisher, PTRebecca Hicks, CCLSRebecca Lewis, AuD, CCC-AReggie Ash Jr.Reno Ravindran, MDRichard Kirschner, MDRichard Wood, MDRobert A. Kowatch, MD, Ph.D.Rochelle Krouse, CTRSRohan Henry, MD, MSRose Ayoob, MDRose Schroedl, PhDRoss Maltz, MDRyan Ingley AT, ATCSamanta Boddapati, PhDSamantha MaloneSammy CygnorSandra C. Kim, MDSara Bentley, MT-BCSara Breidigan, MS, AT, ATCSara N. Smith, MSN, APRNSara O’Rourke, MOT, OTR/L, Clinical LeadSarah A. Denny, MDSarah Cline, CRA, RT(R)Sarah Driesbach, CPN, APNSarah GreenbergSarah Hastie, BSN, RNC-NIC Sarah Keim, PhDSarah MyersSarah O’Brien, MDSarah SaxbeSarah Schmidt, LISW-SSarah ScottSarah TraceySarah VerLee, PhDSasigarn Bowden, MDSatya Gedela, MD, MRCP(UK)Scott Coven, DO, MPHScott Hickey, MDSean EingSean Rose, MDSeth Alpert, MDShana Moore, MA, CCC-AShannon Reinhart, LISW-SShari UncapherSharon Wrona, DNP, PNP, PMHSShawn Pitcher, BS, RD, USAWShawNaye Scott-MillerSheila GilesSimon Lee, MDStacy Whiteside APRN, MS, CPNP-AC/PC, CPONStefanie Bester, MDStefanie Hirota, OTR/LStephanie Burkhardt, MPH, CCRCStephanie CannonStephanie Santoro, MDStephanie Vyrostek BSN, RNStephen Hersey, MDSteve Allen, MDSteven C. Matson, MDSteven Ciciora, MDSteven CuffSuellen Sharp, OTR/L, MOTSusan Colace, MDSusan Creary, MDTabatha BallardTabbetha GrecoTabitha Jones-McKnight, DOTahagod Mohamed, MDTamara MappTammi Young-Saleme, PhDTerry Barber, MDTerry Bravender, MD, MPHTerry Laurila, MS, RPhThomas Pommering, DOThomas SavageTiasha Letostak, PhDTiffanie Ryan, BCBA Tim RobinsonTimothy Cripe, MD, PhDTracey L. Sisk, RN, BSN, MHATracie Rohal RD, LD, CDETracy Mehan, MATravis Gallagher, ATTrevor MillerTyanna Snider, PsyDTyler Congrove, ATVanessa Shanks, MD, FAAPVenkata Rama Jayanthi, MDVidu Garg, MDVidya Raman, MDW. Garrett Hunt, MDWalter Samora, MDWarren D. Lo, MDWendy Anderson, MDWendy Cleveland, MA, LPCC-SWhitney McCormick, CTRSWhitney Raglin Bignall, PhDWilliam Cotton, MDWilliam J. Barson, MDWilliam Ray, PhDWilliam W. Long, MD