What Does It Mean If Your Breastfed Baby Has Urine That Smells Strong?

breastfed baby urine smells strong
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If your breastfed baby has strong smells emanating from their urine this can be alarming. Does it mean that your child is sick? Not necessarily. There are a few factors to consider before you run in a panic to your pediatrician. In this article we are going to discuss a few reasons why this might be occurring and let you know when this should be interpreted as a warning sign. So, without further ado, let’s discuss baby pee smells and what they mean in regards to your baby’s health!

Why does this baby urine smell so STRONG now?  

The first thing to consider if your baby is exclusively feeding on breast milk is your own diet. Have you recently consumed something aromatic, such as zesty garlic rolls or perhaps some buttered asparagus? If so, a strong urine smell from your infant might occur naturally. Spicy and aromatic foods can have this effect, as you are effectively ‘sharing your meals’ when you feed breast milk to your baby. This can also occur if you are taking medicines (and always check with your pediatrician if you are taking medication and breastfeeding to avoid the risk of medication transferring as well!). Now, if you have a fairly regular diet and this is occurring, what else should you check?

Are you drinking enough water?

If you are dehydrated but breastfeeding your child, concentrations of various things that you have eaten can be expressed as well and the concentrations might give you and your baby a sulfur-like smell in the urine. Be sure that you are drinking enough water daily if you suspect that this is the case and this may take care of the issue. Also, drinking lots of water before baby breastfeeds can help to flush out your body to avoid strong smells in your baby’s urine as well.

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Has baby started eating solid foods?

baby pee smells
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If you are primarily feeding baby breast milk but have started experimenting with the occasional solid then you have your answer right in front of you. New scents are completely natural in this case. Now, if you are feeding your baby ONLY breast milk and you have ruled out the other causes then it may be something more troublesome.

Baby pee with strong smells – when to worry

There are some scenarios when strong-smelling urine can be a sign of trouble. Aside from the previously mentioned scenarios, more worrying causes of strong-smelling urine are as follows:

  • Urinary Tract Infection – This is the most common cause for a strong smell associated with a child’s urine. Sometimes there will also be blood in the urine and it is often accompanied by a fever. Statistically, studies indicate that fever coupled with smelly urine is a urinary tract infection in as high as 57% of cases so if you are seeing this combination then you should check with your pediatrician right away. One form of urinary tract infection is rare but quite serious and is known as Cystitis. This is a UTI that also comes with an inflammation of the bladder. This is quite serious as it can spread to the kidneys and worse! So don’t wait if there are strong smells from the urine your baby is producing and a fever. It could be very serious.
  • MSUD (Maple Syrup Urine Disease) – With a name that starts with ‘maple syrup’ you might expect something fairly innocuous. Unfortunately this is not the case with Maple Syrup Urine Disease. The name comes from the fact that the urine begins acquiring a strong, sweet smell to it. This is generally followed by bouts of vomiting and worse as the condition progresses. This is very rare but due to this and our next listing if you notice sweet-smelling urine from your child then you should consult your pediatrician immediately.
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” Sweet smelling urine can be an early sign of type 1 diabetes.”

  • Early sign of diabetes – Sweet smelling urine can be an early sign of type 1 diabetes. If your child is urinating more often than usual and always seems thirsty then this is a possibility and you should seek out your pediatrician immediately for testing in this scenario as well.
  • Hypermethioninemia – If you notice strong smells from baby pee another possibility is Hypermethioninemia, a genetic condition where the body has an excess amount of the amino acid known as methionine. This can cause a number of developmental defects so an early diagnosis is very important.
baby urine smells strong
rickfanwilsen / Pixabay

Above all, don’t panic!

Now that we have gone through the worst case scenarios you are probably worried and mumbling a few choice words about us. Stop for a moment, take a breath, and relax. If this has just started, take an inventory of your current diet first to rule that out. Make sure that you are getting enough water as well and that you are not taking any new medications. If none of these scenarios are a fit, save yourself some worry and simply set up an appointment with your pediatrician. Speculation is all well and good but in general when you are new to parenting the first response is going to be alarm and worry. Resist this by taking advantage of an expert’s opinion. Your pediatrician can run some standard tests and rule out all of the worst case scenarios in a single stroke so if you are worried, DO THIS FIRST. Our goal here is not to worry you, simply to advise you of what CAN occur. In all likelihood your baby is just fine.

In closing

In this article we have discussed various causes for a strong smell to be coming from your breastfed child’s urine. While generally this is going to be something innocuous, we cannot stress enough that a visit to your pediatrician is always going to be a good idea. Your baby is still developing and during this vulnerable time it never hurts to get a little expert advice if something suspicious is occurring. So play it safe and we wish you and your little one the best!

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