Is baby sweating normal? If your baby is waking up hot and sweaty at night, you may be wondering whether this is something to be concerned about.
Rest assured, this is usually completely normal in most cases, but in this post we explore the potential reasons your little one might be perspiring more than usual at night as well as offer some solutions for how to regulate their temperature when they’re too hot.
Why Do Babies Sweat Anyway?
A baby’s body is not able to regulate temperature as well as an adults. One thing they are able to do is sweat in order to cool the body down — which is an entirely natural process for all human beings. This is often the cause for increased baby sweating in most cases.
When dealing with higher or lower than normal temperatures, babies must rely on their parents and carers to adjust room temperature and clothing to keep them from overheating or getting too cold. If too many layers are given to a child, this will cause them to overheat.
During the night, you may notice your baby sweating more than usual. This is normal, but it’s true that sweating could be a symptom of an underlying health issue too. Signs that there may be something to worry about include:
- A higher than normal temperature
- Shivers or clammy skin (due to being soaked in sweat)
- Grumpiness or tears in the middle of the night to accompany the sweating
- A noticeable fatigue as well as excessive sweating
- Constant flushed or red face or body
When you notice the above, it’s worth checking with your doctor to double check that your baby’s sweating is completely normal.
Normal Reasons for Baby Sweating at Night
Baby sweating at night, aka night sweats, can happen to children of any age. Many of the causes of this are entirely normal and just a part of their development. When they get older and more able to regulate their body temperature as well as tell adults when they’re too hot, spontaneous night sweating will be easier to avoid.
They’re Simply Too Hot!
A warmer than usual summer is affecting many parts of the world today. If the temperature has been creeping up in the place you live, or if you are visiting a part of the world where it’s hotter, don’t worry too much if you’re seeing your baby sweat more than usual.
Making sure they’re hydrated, kept in the shade and cooled down when possible is the primary thing you can do. Aircon and fans also help if they’re available. And if it is impossible to keep your baby cool, consider letting them sleep in fewer layers than you would normally dress them in for sleep.
Too Many Layers
Overheating can increase the risk of SIDS according to health organisations like the NHS. And babies can overheat because of too much bedding or clothing.
Many parents will naturally dress their children in more clothes than needed in order to protect them from chills. However, there is such a thing as over bundling and babies are typically happier sleepers in cooler room environments than their parents realise.
Removing layers can let their skin breathe and prevent the trapping of body heat — helping to reduce sweating and keep them calm and cool during bedtime.
Many parents will naturally dress their children in more clothes than needed in order to protect them from chills.
Fussing, Crying Or Nighttime Movement
You may find that sweating will increase when your child is crying or fussing incessantly. This is normal as babies will use a great detail of energy when crying and their excited state can lead to higher body temperatures. This is natural, but it's important to check that your baby is not crying due to any underlying health issue or pain rather than a general inability to sleep alone.
Allergies such as hay fever can also lead to increased sweating in babies. It’s not always easy to spot the signs of an allergic reaction for the first time, but these can include rashes, runny noses or sneezing. Removing things like pets from their environment could help, as well as closing nearby windows to reduce the pollen levels in the air.
No Specific Reason
As babies are unable to regulate their temperature well, there may always be a certain amount of sweating in order for them to cope with their environments. Babies still have active sweat glands despite being much smaller than adults and they have not yet learned to balance their body temperatures — which may simply lead to occasional sweating at night.
Genetics may also play a role. In the same way that some adults may have more active sweat glands than others, babies are the same. If you or other family members are known to sweat more, they may simply be presenting this quality too.
Is Sickness Causing Sweating At Night?
There is always a chance that your baby’s sweating may be caused by some kind of sickness or underlying issue. For instance, the human body often sweats as a way to regulate temperature in response to inflammation, infection or trauma.
Babies who suffer from congenital heart disease may also sweat much more frequently as their bodies work harder to pump blood around. However, many different conditions and illnesses may result in increased sweating too so it’s always important to try and identify what’s causing perspiration and address it with the help of a doctor.
If you notice any of the below symptoms in addition to sweating, it is worth contacting your child’s pediatrician.
- Excessive levels of sweating that are unusual for your child
- Difficulty eating
- Uncontrollable crying
- Gasping during sleep
- Labored breathing
- Inability to gain weight
- Heavy snoring
- Teeth grinding
- Stiff neck
- Ear pain
Clear signs of distress on your baby’s face
Solutions for a Sweaty Baby
While the solution to a sweaty baby will always depend on what’s causing them to perspire at night, below are some useful ideas to try with your sweaty baby.
Adjust their Bedroom Environment
An obvious one, but something still worth saying — if it’s possible, lower the temperature in your child’s room to see if this stops them from sweating so much.
Many households don’t have air conditioning so it’s sometimes necessary to get creative, such as drawing blinds or creating makeshift curtains to block out the intensity of the sun; installing a fan; or, opening multiple doors in your home to allow a current to circulate air through the room.
Ideally, your baby’s sleep environment should stay between 68 to 72°F (20 to 22°C). And if their room doesn’t have a thermometer, you can easily purchase a portable one to put next to your baby’s crib. If you’re lucky, your child’s baby monitor may also report the internal room temperature for you.
If it’s possible, lower the temperature in your child’s room to see if this stops them from sweating so much.
Keep Your Baby Hydrated
Hydration is key. Making sure your little one gets enough fluid will prevent them from becoming dehydrated when they sweat more. Making up for the loss of fluid during sweating will help to keep them healthy and happy.
Calm Your Baby Down
If your baby is crying hard at night for one reason or another, it is likely that this is causing them to sweat more. Until you can calm down your little one, it may be impossible to get them to stop sweating.
Consider adjusting your nighttime routines and ways to optimise their sleeping environment to help them relax and sleep well at night.
You shouldn’t be adding any loose bedding such as blankets or sheets to your baby’s crib anyway, but if you are, take these away.
Also, consider dropping any additional layers that might be causing your baby to overheat. In some temperatures, it’s perfectly fine for your little one to sleep in just their diapers. However, if they crave the comfort of something more restrictive, consider buying swaddles and sleepsuits that are made from lighter and more breathable materials.
Learn more about choosing the right clothes for your baby in our guide: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Baby Clothes Online
Don’t Sweat It
It’s very normal for babies to sweat. In most situations, their perspiration will be a natural part of being a baby or caused by their inability to regulate their temperature as well as an adult. As a parent, look for ways to keep them at an optimal temperature and adjust things like their clothing to keep them cool.
If you are worried about their sweating being caused by something else, it’s always worth contacting a doctor for advice. As temperatures rise in many parts of the world, as you travel to warmer climates on holiday or just when summer weather hits, it’s always worth being vigilant about your baby overheating.