I’ve only been blogging for a month, and don’t know much, but I do know this: the web is gaga for baby neck cheese. How do I know this? I mentioned the smelly baby neck cheese problem we’ve been having with our twins in a brief paragraph on a blog post weeks ago, and damn if that MFer isn’t getting hit left, right, and center by every search engine going. Clearly this is a serious issue that needs further discussion.
What it is:
For those of you who didn’t get here via search engine and are ignorant to the silent, worldwide epidemic that is baby neck cheese, a little background. Baby neck cheese starts when milk dribbles down from baby’s mouth and settles into the many folds of her neck. This can happen while baby is drinking a bottle, or spitting up, both of which happen a lot with babies. That milk/spit-up is very stealthy. It slinks way down deep into a fold and hides there, maturing, staying so quiet that you don’t even know its there until it starts stinking- and man, does it ever stink. By the time it fully ripens to cheese, which, depending on climate, may only take an hour- that stench is enough to wake the dead.
Why it forms:
This problem would not occur if babies had necks. Sadly, they do not. Babies have chubby round faces that sit right on their shoulders, with only cavernous folds in between. These folds are Cheddar Gorge, and at their depths, Cheddar Caves. The real Cheddar Caves are made of carboniferous limestone, fyi, and once concealed the complete skeleton of a man for 8,000 years. That’s how deep they are. That’s what your dealing with, yo.
How to Diagnose:
You know your baby has neck cheese when the stench emanating from baby’s neck is enough to resurrect an 8,000 year old man. What type of cheese does it smell like? This is a topic of hot debate in my household. My husband thinks it smells of Roquefort, and I’m inclined to agree, but just for the sake of argument I like to say that it smells of a sharper, 10-years-past-perfect Camembert. I’m open to further discussion, however, if there are any Fromagers/new parents reading this.
Aside from smell, if you would like more criteria for diagnosis (though after whiffing the region I cannot imagine you would need further proof), you can also note the appearance, which not surprisingly is curd-like. In appearance and not smell, it is Feta-esque.
Environmental, Behavioral, and Anatomical Causes:
Baby neck cheese is a hornet’s nest of causes and factors. First you have the behavioral issues- babies are messy eaters and spit up at lot. Then anatomy comes into play. Without a neck, the milk/spit-up cannot roll off, and has no where to go but deep in the folds, which function as tiny, infant fromageries. Next, we get screwed by the weather. The warmer, moister climates really set the stage for cheese cultivation. We live in a jungle for chrissakes, so we get hit harder than most.
Treatment and Cure:
Treatment depends on the length of the ripening process, and the sensativity of your baby’s skin. Before the situation can be fully assessed, you must ferret the cheese out with liquid soap. Use baby soap. Baby skin is already delicate, and after suffering through cheese ripening, it really doesn’t need further insult. I suggest using a soft washcloth for this portion of the process. Not to get too graphic, but if you use your hand, you will never get the smell out. For real. Once the cheese is excavated, examine the fold. Is it red and irritated? Is it uncomfortable for your baby? It usually has to go undetected for a while to get to this stage, but if it does, or if you have any concerns at all, contact your baby’s Pediatrician because it could be a yeast infection. Gross, but true. If this is the case, the doc will prescibe a lovely cream to clear it right up. Most of the time, however, you can just loosen the curds with baby soap, mop them up with a washcloth, and baby’s good as gold until she gets the cure. The cure for baby neck cheese is growing a neck. When the folds cease to exist, the fromagies close up shop. Their time is odorous, but brief.
Not bloody likely! I’ll revise. If your baby is a messy eater, or frequent spitter-upper, and you live in a warm, moist climate, you’re f-ed. Your baby’s neck will be stinking it up with the rest of them. There are things you can do, however, to minimize the problem. Wisdom I will share with you from trial and error. When my twins were born, not long after we moved to this jungle, my husband and I found we we’re unaccustomed to the climate, and unaccustomed to the twins, for that matter. The girls had neck cheese so thick you could spread it on a cracker. We used a three prong method to attack the problem: bathe more often, burp more often, use oil. Method #1: Bathe the baby every day. With twins, this is really exhausting, and the baby books will tell you that a baby really doesn’t need a bath every day, but when that baby has neck cheese, she really does. And baths are fun! Even when you’re hellucinating in your exhaustion (especially then!) they are fun. Just suck it up and scrub those folds, dammit. Method #2: Burp more often. More burps=less spit up=less possibility of cheese. Need I say more? Method #3: Oil. After the bath, dry your baby completely and give her a nice soothing baby message, rubbing the baby oil deep down in every fold. This seems to help. I have a theory that the oil makes it harder for the curds to attach to the neck. There is only acecdotal evidence to back me up on this, as there has never been an in depth study on the prevention of baby neck cheese (I’m as good as it gets, kids), but I’ve found it to be effective, so give it a go!
Well, that’s all I’ve got. I welcome any comments/suggestions/questions from all you suffering parents out there.
P.S. An update! I wrote this post about 4 months ago, and damn if this MFer isn’t still getting hit like a son of a gun. So- just wanted to add that another effective baby neck cheese treatment I’ve found is to add a touch of burt’s bees diaper rash creme in the folds. Its gentle on skin, hard on cheese. Good luck