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Hmmm... might be the hot weather? Is it still muggy where you are? Might be getting a bug or something (hope not)... I know my DS (16 months) sweats like a pig - so much that his hair's plastered to his head, when he falls asleep somewhere remotely warm, I bet if I sniffed his armpits they'd be wiffy afterwards!
Yes they can. I have a friend whose dd's armpits smelled long before puberty - round about the age of 8. She used to put talcum on them at first, to stop them being smelly, but by the age of about 10 she'd started using deodorant and she really did need it, otherwise she would smell after a run or on a hot day.
I wouldn't want to unneccessarily worry anyone who's young child has this prob but isn't this linked to a condition called precious puberty? which would need to be treated if diagnosed due to their growth being stunted as a adult if it isn't - I found this with a quick Google search:
Precocious puberty often begins before age 8 in girls, triggering the development of breasts and hair under the arms and in the genital region. The onset of ovulation and menstruation also may occur. In boys, the condition triggers the development of a large penis and testicles, with spontaneous erections and the production of sperm. Hair grows on the face, under arms and in the pubic area, and acne may become a problem.
While the early onset of puberty may seem fairly benign, in fact it can cause problems when hormones trigger changes in the growth pattern, essentially halting growth before the child has reached normal adult height. Girls may never grow above 5 ft (152 cm) and boys often stop growing by about 5 ft 2 in (157 cm).
It would probably be worth checking with their Doctor and asking for a referal to a Consultant if you are not happy (I think they do blood tests to check what their hormone levels are, I'm not sure though)
One thing I have noticed especially with my older boys is that in the shower they don't lather the shower gel properly. They squirt it on their hand and before they've rubbed it on themselves, the water has washed it all down the plughole. I had to demonstrate how to make sure they were washing prpoerly and it did make a bit of difference. You know what boys are like for running around and getting all hot and sweaty! Same for their hair - before they'd had chance to lather the shmpoo properly, the water had washed it off too, therefore leaving behind a bit of a sweaty smell still.