It’s a shock the first time you catch a whiff of body odor on your previously sweet-smelling LO. If their usual bubble bath or body wash just isn’t cutting it, know that it’s not uncommon for younger children and pre-teens to need deodorant. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy figuring out what deodorant is safe for them to use — let alone telling them they need to use it. Scary Mommy reached out to board-certified pediatrician Dr. Jean Siri Moorjani to get the scoop on children’s body odor and how to choose the best deodorant for kids.
Jean S. Moorjani, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Dr. Moorjani earned her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia. She’s an expert on all things pediatric medicine and is a mother of two.
When Should Kids Start Using Deodorant?
While most children begin puberty between the ages of 9 and 14, Dr. Moorjani says, “Research has shown that kids are starting puberty at earlier ages compared to previous generations.” Look through the reviews of any children’s deodorant and you’ll find families with children as young as 5 looking for a safe natural deodorant for their littles.
What’s The Difference Between Deodorant And Antiperspirant?
Choosing between deodorant and antiperspirant depends on your child’s needs and age. Antiperspirants aim to curb excessive sweating while deodorants work to neutralize body odor. Dr. Moorjani says while antiperspirants are safe for children, “I recommend most kids starting with deodorant first, since the excessive sweating tends to become an issue later in puberty.” So you may want to hold off on the teenage antiperspirants — for now!
Most children’s deodorants are free of aluminum (an ingredient often found in antiperspirants). That said, Dr. Moorjani said, “There are rumors that aluminum in deodorant causes lymph node cells to become cancer cells, however, research has not shown us that this is happening.”
What Should Parents Look For In Children’s Deodorant?
Making deodorant easy to use helps children build a routine. Dr. Moorjani recommends using a stick form of deodorant at first, as aerosols can be more difficult for little kids to use.
She also says to keep an eye out for any signs of irritation or allergy when using a new product. “If your child has sensitive skin, you may want to try using the deodorant on a small area of skin and look for any signs of an allergic reaction. If you don’t see any signs of redness, bumps, or itchiness, then it will probably be safe to use a larger amount under their arms,” she says.
Dr. Moorjani advises that one ingredient common in natural children’s deodorant is something to keep an eye out for. “Baking soda can adjust the natural pH of our skin, and a possible side effect can be dryness or irritation,” she says.
With all that in mind, it’s time to choose the best deodorant for kids that will make cuddles as sweet as they used to be. And if odor still lingers, well, it’s time to stock up on some home odor eliminator (ask any mom of teens).
1. A Hypoallergenic Kids’ Deodorant That’s Gummy Bear-Scented
Designed for children’s sensitive skin, Fresh Monster Gummy Burst natural deodorant is free of a long list of allergens and chemicals including aluminum, parabens, gluten, phthalates, and triclosan. Taming odors with natural ingredients like baking soda, tapioca starch, coconut oil, and shea butter, this hypoallergenic deodorant promises 24-hour coverage. Multiple reviewers said the clean, subtle gummy bear scent reminded them of citrus and that it helped their kids remember to apply it daily. One reviewer noted the cap is child-friendly and that “the package is easy enough for her to open and apply the deodorant by herself.” This vegan, cruelty-free deodorant is also available in a Beach Breeze scent.
Helpful Review: “My daughter is very active and I was starting to notice a little smell by the end of the day. I wanted to find a product that didn’t have an overwhelming scent, but made her smell fresh and clean. She loves the smell and comes in my bathroom in the morning so we can put deodorant on together 🙂 She has sensitive skin and has no issues with this product!”
2. A Crystal Deodorant That Can Last An Entire Year
This popular natural deodorant isn’t just for kids, but many parents have found it works wonders on their little one’s arm pits – and feet! Containing only one ingredient (pure mineral salt), this deodorant works for up to 24 hours and is hypoallergenic, vegan, non-sticky, and doesn’t leave white marks on clothing. The ingredient list is free of aluminum chloride, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and artificial fragrances and colors. CRYSTAL is also the only natural deodorant brand to receive the Clean Label Project Purity Award. What’s more, this cruelty-free deodorant claims that with daily suggested use that one stick can last over a year. (Talk about bang for your buck!). There’s also a Lavender & White Tea scent.
Helpful Review: “Works like a charm on my 7 year old. I wanted her to have non-toxic deodorant once she started to need some and this is her first deodorant ever. Great option for kids!”
3. Writer’s Choice: An Affordable 3-Pack Of Effective Natural Deodorant
This three-pack of deodorant offers 24-hour protection using natural plant-based ingredients like aloe, hops extract, lemongrass, and sunflower oil. The formula is free of a long list of ingredients including aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and artificial colors, fragrances, and preservatives. Tom’s of Maine is a cruelty-free brand that donates 10% of their profits to human and environmental goodness. Reviewers say the scent is pleasant, clean, and not overpowering. It’s also available in a fruity Summer Fun scent.
Writer’s Praise: “This deodorant really came through when my daughter needed a deodorant at seven years old. The ingredients are really clean and my little loved the smell, which helped motivate her to use it. It lasts all day, even on hot, humid days. It never leaves residue on her clothing and despite her skin being sensitive, it hasn’t bothered her.”
4. A Baking Soda-Free Deodorant Infused With Prebiotics
SmartyPits is a woman-owned brand that makes small batches of handcrafted deodorant that is free of baking soda, aluminum, phthalates, parabens, and propylene glycol. Using plant-based ingredients like avocado butter, coconut oil, and arrowroot powder, this deodorant stick is sized slightly smaller for younger users, and it comes in 100% recyclable packaging. But what really caught our attention is the brand’s use of prebiotics to keep the skin microbiome balanced for further odor protection. This deodorant’s scent is described as a light combination of wood and amber, and there’s also a popular Orchard Blossom scent if you’re looking for something more floral.
Helpful Review: “[…] I wanted to find a natural, baking soda free deodorant for my 6 year old as shockingly her pits can get funky at times. She doesn’t have to put it on everyday, just maybe a few times a week and it holds up well. She and I have sensitive skin so we have to do baking soda free natural deodorants and we love this one!! One of the best smelling natural deodorants I’ve ever tried hands down.”
5. A Sheer Kids’ Deodorant With A Lovely Floral Scent
This vegan-friendly deodorant is residue free and uses natural ingredients like witch hazel, organic arrowroot powder, coconut, cucumber and corn starch. Offering 24 hours of protection, it is cruelty-free and pH-balanced for sensitive skin and it contains less than 2% of the product is baking soda; plus, it’s also notably talc-free. The deodorant is also free of aluminum, paraben, phthalate, sulfate, dyes, sulfates, and artificial preservatives. Reviewers love the scent, which they say “smells very natural – mostly [a] real rose scent, but [with] undertones of peony.” It also comes in two-packs of Strawberry Vanilla, Hero (citrus, cucumber and amber), Pear Berry, and Sport A (an ocean breeze scent.)
Helpful Review: “I ordered this Rosy-Pits natural deodorant for one of my young children who unfortunately has stinky pits at quite a young age […] My child has very sensitive skin, yet this natural deodorant has not caused any irritation or rashes, and although the rose scent is incredibly lovely, it is not overpowering or too strong, and thankfully doesn’t smell like my child is wearing perfume or anything at all, after half an hour or so. […] This deodorant has worked like a charm, and I no longer hug a pungent onion scented child each day. It is hands down worth [the price], and I will order again once we run out.”
6. A 2-Pack Of U.K. Deodorant Made Using 98% Natural Ingredients
Made in the U.K., this children’s deodorant stick is made using 98% natural ingredients and is free of alcohol, aluminum, parabens, SLS, and artificial colors. Reviewers rave about the “fresh cut grass” scent, which they say isn’t too strong and doesn’t irritate their little one’s sensitive skin. One reviewer did offer the warning that her 9-year-old child discovered she could skip showers using this! The company never tests on animals and the bottle is made from 50% recycled plastic and is fully recyclable as well.
Helpful Review: “Unfortunately my 5 soon to be 6 year old seems to be hitting her mile stones early. Although I was reluctant to get her deodorant too early this was recommended. Smells very fresh and green. There’s no irritation and lasts.”
7. An Award-Winning Kids’ Deodorant That Rolls On
A women-owned, vegan, and cruelty-free brand that’s made in the U.S., Good For You Girls Deodorant has won a slew of awards and comes with a smooth roll-on application. It’s also Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty free. The plant-powered ingredients in this deodorant include aloe, witch hazel, grapefruit extract, lavender and chamomile and the deodorant uses two types of probiotic technology to break down odor-causing bacteria. The ingredients are completely free of aluminum, baking soda, clay, parabens, phthalates, PEGs, and synthetic dyes. The deodorant has a light fruity scent and won’t leave white marks on clothing either. Bonus: it works for stinky feet too! It also comes in a Baby Powder scent.
Helpful Review: “My 6yr old has BO so I needed to get her a deodorant. However, I needed to be mindful of the fact that she has sensitive skin and is still really young. Therefore, I couldn’t just order any old deodorant. After careful research and reviews, I settled on this one. I am so happy that I did and do not regret buying it all. My girl doesn’t have BO anymore. I love that the ingredients are natural and as such the scent is not strong either. […] I would strongly recommend to anyone seeking a natural deodorant for their little one.”
8. Another Roll-On Deodorant That Can Handle Really Active Days
Whether you’re looking for an unscented deodorant for your kid, or a fun scent like Mountain Mint, Sunset Bloom, Vanilla Dream, and Fresh Lime, Kobi roll-on deodorant has you covered. This unscented deodorant is their mildest formula, but all of their deodorants are made without aluminum, baking soda, silicone, artificial fragrance, dyes, parabens, phthalates, GMOs, or carcinogens. The large bottle promises to last 2 to 3 months, offering 24-hour protection, even in the heat. This allergy-friendly deodorant is made in the U.S. and is free of nut oil, gluten, dairy, soy, and sesame.
Helpful Review: “We haven’t had much luck with other kids’ deodorants so decided to give this a try despite the lack of reviews. I’m glad we did! This works really well for my son and lasts all day with no smell, even after he’s been running around in the heat for a few hours. My wife likes that it doesn’t stain his shirts unlike another brand that kind of stuck on there like glue. We’ll be buying this again for sure.”
Jean S. Moorjani, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children