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How can something as ghastly as the stench of smelly kids feet issue from something as sweet and gentle as your beloved baby? But it’s true. Those supposed angels, your kids, are frequently the source of that foul, overpowering stench. How can this possibly be?!
Why Do Kids Feet Stink?
For a start, don’t freak out. Stinky kids feet are a fairly common occurrence in kids. They’re often far more active than us and work up quite the sweat before they’re even puffed out. Here are some of the reasons your kid’s feet might be creating a nasty pong…
Here is a summary of the top reasons why kids feet stink:
- Kids Sweat More: kids feet sweat 2-3 times more than adults, the sweat combined with the bacteria living in kids feet and in socks and shoes cause the stench.
- Poor Shoe Materials: kids’ shoes made of cheap materials like plastic, rubber or polyurethane don't allow the foot to breathe and encourage even more perspiration and hence the smell.
- Kids Wear Out Their Shoes More Quickly: kids tend to cycle through shoes much faster, and if the shoes and not good quality, the inner lining can degrade and the sweat never really dries, causing an off smell.
Read into the details below as to the main reasons why kids feet smell!
1. Kids Sweat More
And not just a little bit more, either. Kids’ feet sweat 2-3 times more than an adult’s. Newborns and toddlers only have active sweat glands in their hands, feet, neck and head, meaning these glands work overtime to keep bub’s body temperature regulated.
But we shouldn’t unfairly put the blame on the sweat itself – it’s actually the bacteria already living on your kid’s feet, and in the socks and shoes, that stink so much.
Bacteria feed off dead skin cells and thrive in moist, hot environments, so you do the maths. Shoes are the perfect feeding ground for bacteria, causing the pungent smell to multiply.
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2. Poor Shoe Materials
As active as they are, kids’ feet have got to breathe. And when they’re often swaddled in socks and shoes for extended periods of play (or all day at school!), they’re bound to develop a pretty ripe odour.
Many kids’ shoes are made of cheap materials that lock in the sweat and encourage even more perspiration. For this reason, shoes made of plastic, rubber or polyurethane are less than ideal. These cheap materials are a recipe for odour as sweat cannot evaporate and instead condenses in the shoe causing discomfort and of course odour.
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3. Kids Wear Out Their Shoes More Quickly
All that extra activity and sweat means kids tend to cycle through shoes much faster. If the shoes aren’t top quality, the soft inside lining can degrade quickly and dry more slowly, leading to shoes that never quite lose that “off” smell.
When cheap low-quality shoes start wearing out, the inner lining becomes damaged and therefore the sweat absorbing and wicking properties are compromised. Low-quality plastic shoes wear out the fastest and the combination of sweat and bacteria with the decomposing plastic is a recipe for bad smells.
How to Deal with Smelly Kids Feet
Short of putting your kid in shackles, the best way to prevent your kid’s feet from stinking out the car or house is to keep those feet clean and dry. Here are a few other ways to suffocate the stench…
Here are the top ways to deal with smelly kids feet and minimise the stench:
- Wash feet regularly with soap and water. Ensure you thoroughly dry between the toes!
- Keep kids feet dry. Moisture-wicking socks are great for when kids are out and about all day.
- Rotate shoes. Have a few pairs of shoes on rotation so they can dry properly before the next wear.
- Wash and wipe down shoes. Throw fabric shoes in the washing machine and gently wipe down leather shoes regularly.
- Go barefoot. At home or in a safe environment, let kids go without shoes.
- Visit your doctor. If your child's foot smell is really becoming unbearable and you've tried the above steps, visit a health professional.
- Always let feet breathe. Open sandals in summer and choose breathable leather shoes for winter.
Read in detail the 7 ways to minimise kids foot smells below.
Regularly bathing your child’s feet can help to banish the stench. Try to wash them twice daily with soap and water and dry them thoroughly afterwards, especially between the toes. White vinegar is another fab way to battle bacteria. Wash your child’s foot in some vinegar mixed with lukewarm water. Practicing good hygiene is definitely a way to mitigate smells and keep baby feet fresh.
2. Keep ‘Em Dry
Give your kid’s feet a fighting chance by dusting on a bit of (talcum-free) foot powder, corn starch or baking soda, all of which can help absorb some of the moisture and keep kids’ feet dry. For even longer days out and about, you might even want to consider getting your kids some moisture-wicking socks. Kids sweat glads are very active so some good socks will go a long way.
3. Rotate the shoes
So that your kids’ shoes have a chance to dry out, make sure they’re not always wearing the same pair of smelly old trainers day in, day out. Having a few pairs on rotation is always a good idea, there is nothing worse than putting on shoes that are still damp from the previous day. By allowing shoes to fully dry before wearing, this will minimise bacteria and sweat building up and causing a pungent aroma.
4. Wash Their Shoes
I don’t want to gross you out, but your kid’s shoes are a veritable Amazon filled with dirt, bacteria, and fungus. So yes, it’s OK to toss them in the washing machine – just as long as they’re not made of leather. For leather shoes, you can simply wipe them down with a damp cloth and a mild detergent.
Simply add a dash of laundry detergent or even some baking soda and, hey presto!, the kids feet smell is gone. Especially for shoes that have gone through regularly wear, washing is important to kill off that bacteria. As always, allow shoes to fully dry after washing.
5. Let Them Go Barefoot
Easy. Eliminate the shoes and you’ll eliminate the smell! If your kids are in a safe environment, let them wander barefoot. Once they’ve come home from a long day of play, be sure to remove their shoes and socks ASAP so their feet can feel the freedom again. If it’s chilly, just put a pair of fresh, clean socks on. Barefoot is best for growing feet.
6. Visit the Docs
If you’ve performed all these steps and you simply can’t eradicate the stench, your child might have something else going on, such as hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), infection or hormonal imbalance. Taking them to the docs is the easiest and simplest way to get to the root of the problem quickly – and your doctor will hopefully have the solution. Kids feet won't smell forever, as they grow sweat glands stabilise, always see your medical professional if problems persist.
7. Let Their Feet Breathe
In summer, this is all too easy by slipping your kids into some light sandals. In winter, ensure your kid’s closed-toe shoes are well-circulated and made of natural fibres so their feet can breathe. Steer clear of synthetics and opt instead for leather, cloth, or canvas. Also, make sure the insoles are made to absorb moisture.
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Discover More Helpful Articles on the Bobux Blog!
And if you're looking for more life-saving child-rearing hacks (you’re welcome) check out some of our other bits of advice on our Bobux blog today. Our articles are curated by foot health experts and designed to help you help your child's feet grow naturally. Check out more tips and tricks below: