baby smells like maple syrup
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Why Does My Baby Smell Like Maple Syrup?

The other day I noticed a maple syrup smell on my sons onesie. I didn’t think anything of it and just changed him into different clothes. Thought it could be some food he spilled on his clothes. Next morning, my hubby says that our sons smells like maple syrup. I told him it was so weird cause I smelled it yesterday too. But still thought nothing of it and changed his clothes. Then I turned to Google and found some really scary info.

I started googling why my sons onesie would smell like syrup and found that maple syrup smell is a symptom of MSUD, maple syrup urine disease. Well I started reading about MSUD and it was NOT GOOD. But you know what else I found? Chats from other moms who said that their children’s fleece PJs smelled like maple syrup. So, for that day, I smelled my sons diapers, body, ear, everything to make sure he didn’t smell like syrup. Oh, and called his doctor of course. 

The doctor took 6 hours to get back to me so you all know what that feels like. In those 6 hours I put my son in cotton clothes and smelled him A LOT. I didn’t smell the syrup smell, but still had the onesies that did. And they really smelled like syrup, even a few days later! 

I read so many chats and comments from other moms who have experienced this that it started to ease my mind. I read that MSUD is something babies are tested for when they’re born but only in some states. Ours was one of them! I saw so many articles about MSUD and not many about maple syrup smelling pjs. I saw a lot of chats on mommy sites but no specific articles written on mommy blogs. So, I’m writing this because if it helps one mamas mind not go to the place mine went that day, then it’s SO worth it!

Doctor called me back, asked me a bunch of questions and said to monitor it but that it sounds like it’s just the pjs. My sons cotton pjs didn’t smell like syrup and now a few days later since the smell started, we have started using the fleece ones again. The smell isn’t as strong, but it only happens with the fleece pajamas! Based off my googling and my doctors info, it seems like it was a combo of baby sweat & fleece. Which makes sense because we went outside that day that I could really smell the syrup smell.

I’m always going to encourage calling a doctor when it comes to our babies health, but I truly wish I could thank those moms who shared their experience with a maple syrup smell on fleece pjs because they saved this mamas mind from going into a bad spot and thinking the worst. Babies are the greatest gift but when something unexpected happens, share if you can because it might help another mama navigate through the same experience!


UPDATE 1/16/2021:

I wanted to make sure I updated my post with the most recent findings of this topic. My son had his 15 month appointment and my doctor asked about the smell. I told her it was still happening but not everyday. She said to be safe, we should test his pee and do a urine analysis to see if there is any reason to worry. So, I had to collect his pee (which was not as hard as it sounds) and we sent it off to a lab. I’m happy to report that the lab work came back totally normal! So, my guess is still that Carters Fleece Pajamas plus sweat/pee/detergent, give off a sweet smell. Here is the detergent we use in case that helps any mamas! I still look up articles sometimes and read about other mamas worried about this smell. I hope if a mama is reading this and is worried about the smell, call your doctor and see what they say! But know that you are NOT alone. This has happened to a lot of babies/toddlers after researching for hours. The smell still happens with my son but only with fleece pajamas! As my son got older, we switched to cotton pajamas and no longer smell the maple syrup smell! The smell overall lasted a few months, but boy did this give me a scare. I appreciate all the comments from other moms, and I hope they make you feel better too!

UPDATE 7/25/2023:

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update on my sons maple syrup smell but this page still gets a ton of traffic so I know that there are other parents out there worried about this same thing! I’m happy to report that my son hasn’t had the smell since I last wrote on this blog! We no longer use fleece pajamas, but we do still use the same detergent! We keep his room at 74 degrees which is a perfect temperature for him, and he uses a light blanket (not very heavy at all). Based on the comments I’ve received on this page, it seems like this page is helpful for any moms or dads worried about their toddler smelling like maple syrup. I hope your doctor doesn’t take 6 hours to get back to you like ours did!


  • Camilla Waitt

    Just wanted to say thank you for posting this. We have the EXACT same thing happening with those damn fleece Carter’s pjs. Glad it’s probably the jammies but we will also get check just to make sure. So weird!

  • Lex B

    This was extremely helpful! The past two days, my 9 month old daughter has exhibited “maple syrup” smell. I’ve bathed her, changed her clothes, wiped her down repetitively and yet… the smell lingers on. Googling nearly gave me a heart attack. But finding your website and some similar articles gave me peace of mind that it’s probably not as severe as Google is portraying it to be. She does sweat quite a bit! Thank you for this post, it was very informative and made me feel better!

  • Bee

    Thank you so much for this! I read a forum about this issue with the pajamas as well and realized that only the fleece ones were giving off that weird smell. Like you, I realized that my son’s cotton pjs never caused this issue. This article really did help give me peace of mind.