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Baby Neck Cheese: How To Prevent, Clean And Get Rid Of It

There is nothing quite like cuddling with your little one. That is until you smell the sour odor of baby neck cheese. Baby neck cheese is relatively common. It is also referred to as “milk neck.”

You can tell if your baby has this by the smell. If there is bleeding, irritation, or a sour smell in the creases of their neck, they have a case of baby neck cheese.

My first child had a bad case that required a doctor’s visit. During that visit, I did learn how to get rid of it and how to prevent baby neck cheese.

If you already have this situation, it’s important to learn how to get rid of it and how to prevent it in the future. If not, learning about prevention is a must, so you never have to deal with a bad case of baby neck cheese.

How To Prevent Baby Neck Cheese

Baby neck cheese is the result of spit, drool, milk, formula, or other things irritating the folds of skin on the neck. This is extremely common in babies that are chubby because they have neck fat.

It is also common in babies under four months old because they cannot hold their heads up yet. This prevents air circulation in the area. It can also result in the folds of skin rubbing against each other, which itself can cause irritation.

There are specific ways to prevent baby neck cheese from occurring or re-occurring.

bathing baby

Prevent Baby Neck Cheese With Hygiene Practices

Babies that have a little bit of neck fat are going to get stuff in between those folds. This could be anything from baby formula to sweat.

After your little one is done eating, tilt their head back ever so slightly to straighten out the neck fat rolls and wipe them with a baby wipe. Then, dry the area with a towel or burp cloth.

If you don’t dry the area, it can result in more baby neck cheese. Complete this cleaning process on hot days when your little one sweats, after every feeding and make sure that the area is dry when exposed to water, such as in the bath.

Dress Your Baby In Loose Fitting Clothing

Sometimes, baby neck cheese can be irritated or caused by tight-fitting clothing. The neckline of tight onesies and shirts will rub against the skin in between neck rolls.

This makes babies sweat more in this area and cause a rash. Little ones that already have baby neck cheese will have more irritation in this area from the constant friction.

Make sure that necklines do not touch this area, or dress your baby in just a diaper on hot days.

How To Clean Baby Neck Cheese

Properly cleaning of baby neck cheese is vital to get rid of it. Once you see that your little one has baby neck cheese, it’s important to clean it several times a day.

Before cleaning the area, make sure that you have everything that you need. You will need:

  • A squirt bottle, such as a peri bottle. This is gentler on the skin than using a washcloth with soap to clean the area.
  • Baby soap. If the area is open or needs cleaning, you will need a gentle baby soap to wash away dirt and bacteria.
  • Towel. To dry the area.

After you have gathered your materials, place your baby in your lap or the bathtub. Gently tilt their head back and use one hand to lift up the neck roll. This can be easier in a baby bathtub, but you can also do it on your lap or the floor.

Then, squirt the area with lukewarm water. Rub soap on the area if needed with your fingers. Then, rinse off the soap and towel dry the area. This is the basics of cleaning the area, but additional steps might be needed, depending on the situation.

If there is no rash or irritation, simply cleaning the area like this will be fine.

baby's neck is massaged

Cleaning More Severe Cases Of Baby Neck Cheese

More severe cases might have skin that is has cracked open, a rash, or mild irritation. If there is a rash, you can effectively treat it with diaper rash cream, or anything else you use to treat diaper rash.

Other common home remedies include: 

  • Vaseline
  • Coconut oil
  • Avoid anything scented or with harsh chemicals as this can irritate the area further

If the skin is broken open, clean the area thoroughly. Then, apply an antibiotic cream to the area before applying diaper rash cream. Because the skin is broken open, there is a high risk of infection.

How To Get Rid Of Baby Neck Cheese

If you want to get rid of baby neck cheese, it takes a combination of the prevention and cleaning methods mentioned above. Follow all of the prevention methods stated.

Also, clean the area thoroughly throughout the day and apply a protective cream. This will protect the area from further irritation because nothing will come in contact with the skin. 

Clean The Area After Feeding

Formula and breast milk are the most common culprits of baby neck cheese. Babies spit their bottle out and a mouthful of formula with it. This results in formula spilling down their chin, and in between the folds of their neck.

Even if your little one has cream on their neck, it’s important to separate the folds of the neck and wipe the area clean. This should be done after every feeding just in case. 

Protect The Area During Feeding

Using a bib or burp cloth can help protect the area while your little one is eating. You can tuck the bib and burp cloth around the neck.

When milk dribbles out of their mouth and face, it will land on the burp cloth instead of finding its way between their neck folds. Preventing further irritation will help the area heal quickly. It can also help prevent future cases of baby neck cheese.

baby crawl

Increase Tummy Time

Babies usually have those adorable rolls on their necks because they are a little chubby and cannot fully support their head. This leads to them slouching more, and their necks tend to sink down a bit as their heads are tilted forward to eat.

This is why most cases of baby neck cheese are seen in babies that are under the age of four months old.

You can help prevent this from happening again and solve the current issue by increasing tummy time. This helps your little one strengthen their neck muscles so that they can hold their head up.

While they practice these movements, they stretch their neck out to lift their head. This allows more air to get to the area, which will help it heal quickly. If air cannot get to the wound, it will take significantly longer to heal. 

Have Patience

The methods above will help baby neck cheese heal and are an excellent way to prevent future cases. However, your little one did not develop this condition in one day, and it will not be gone in one day.

Instead, it is similar to diaper rash because it takes time, patience, and persistence. Mild cases that are only noticeable by a sour smell can be gone in as little as one or two days.

More severe cases that have resulted in the skin being broken open might take as long as one or two weeks. Keep using the methods mentioned above, and you will see slow improvement until the condition is gone. 

Baby neck cheese can instantly make you feel full of guilt, but it’s okay. Regularly cleaning the area is the most effective method of prevention and a vital part of getting rid of it.

The other tips will also help your baby heal and guarantee that you don’t have to deal with baby neck cheese again. 

Please note that I am not a doctor. This is how I treated my daughter’s baby neck cheese problem under the advice of her doctor. This advice should not replace medical advice.

If you’re concerned about your baby or don’t see improvement, contact your pediatrician.