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Is It Normal For Babies To Sweat While Breastfeeding?

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Sweating, also known as perspiration, is the body’s way to keep itself cool by sending out excess body heat. While sweating can happen anywhere on the body, it is most noticeable on the head, scalp, under the arms, feet, and palms (1).

Some babies tend to sweat while being breastfed. In this MomJunction post, we tell you about the causes for a baby to sweat while breastfeeding, and preventive measures to take.

Do Babies Sweat When Feeding?

Some babies do sweat while breastfeeding. If the baby’s body temperature rises due to some reason, then the sweat glands release sweat. Certain health conditions might also cause sweating while breastfeeding.

Not all babies sweat while breastfeeding. Read on to know more about the likely causes.

Why Do Babies Sweat While Breastfeeding?

If your baby is sweating during feeding, then it does not mean that there is always a pathological reason for that. A baby might sweat for the following general physiological reasons:

1. Skin-to-skin contact

While feeding, the baby comes in skin-to-skin contact with the mother. The heat from the mother’s body gets transmitted to the baby’s skin, thus increasing the likelihood of sweating.

2. Room temperature

High room temperature can make a baby uncomfortable and overheated. It can also lead to sweating.

3. Excess covering

Parents may cover the baby in blankets to keep them warm. At times, the mother might cover herself and the baby while breastfeeding in public. Placing a cover over the baby’s stroller or car seat makes it warmer for the baby, even if the cover is thin and breathable. This can overheat the baby and may cause sweating.

4. Warm clothes

Covering the baby in warm clothes can increase body temperature and cause sweating. Making the baby wear a cap during the feeding session might cause sweating on the head.

5. Remaining in the same position

If the baby is held in the same position for a long time, then it may cause overheating and sweating on the part of the baby’s body that is in contact with your skin.

Why Does The Baby’s Head Sweat While Breastfeeding?

In babies, sweat glands are concentrated on the forehead and scalp, thus leading them to sweat more in these regions. The sweat glands gradually develop on the chest, limbs, followed by other parts of the body (2).

When To Consult A Doctor?

See the doctor in the following scenarios.

  • The baby gets tired too soon and does not eat enough or the baby falls asleep right after starting the feed. Consult a lactation consultant IBCLC to assess a feeding and discuss ways to stimulate the baby to actively suckle at the breast.
  • They do not gain enough weight. Reach out to a lactation consultant to assess how breastfeeding is going and identify the cause for slow and/or no weight gain.
  • The baby experiences shortness of breath or labored breathing, or gasps for air while breathing.
  • There is a blue tint on the baby’s skin, probably indicating that they have less oxygen in the circulating blood.

How To Reduce Sweating While Breastfeeding?

The following tips might help reduce sweating in a baby during breastfeeding.

  • Dress the baby in loose and comfortable clothes. The baby’s clothes should be compatible and suitable for the weather or ambient temperature.
  • Choose breathable cotton fabric clothes for your baby. Do not dress them in fabrics like polyester.
  • Avoid wearing woolen or polyester clothes yourself while feeding the baby.
  • Do not put layers of blankets over the baby while breastfeeding. Instead, use a soft and breathable nursing cover.
  • Do not cover the baby’s head while you are breastfeeding them. Putting caps and mittens on the baby might cause excessive sweating.
  • Feed the baby in a well-ventilated room. Keep the temperature of the room comfortable (3).

If none of the tips help in the reduction or management of sweating in babies, then see a pediatrician or a certified lactation consultant.

Does Sweating While Nursing Indicate A Health Issue?

Baby sweating while breastfeeding is not always a cause of concern, but in some cases, excess sweating might indicate an underlying condition. The following are the possible health conditions that might make your baby sweat while feeding.

1. Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is characterized by excessive sweating in amounts greater than what is needed to regulate body temperature (4). The exact cause for hyperhidrosis is not known.

2. Thyroid issue

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone (thyroxine). Excessive thyroid hormone increases metabolism and may cause excessive sweating, along with other symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heartbeat, etc. (5)

3. Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart diseases occur when a baby’s heart does not form properly during the fetal stage. It may cause a variety of conditions and disorders that affect heart function. Babies with congenital heart diseases display symptoms such as fatigue, chronic crying, rapid breathing, and excessive sweating (6).

Remember, not all babies sweat due to a disorder or problem. The best way to determine the exact cause is by consulting a pediatrician.

Some babies sweat while you feed them, and it might not be associated with any disease. However, if you notice increased sweating and changes in feeding patterns, or insufficient weight gain, then consult a doctor.

References:

1. Sweating, US National Library of Medicine
2. K. G. Foster, E. N. Hey And G. Katz, The Response Of The Sweat Glands Of The New-Born Baby To Thermal Stimuli And To Intradermal Acetylcholine; The Journal of Physiology
3. The safest room temperature for babies; The Lullaby Trust
4. Hyperhidrosis; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
5. Hyperthyroidism; Boston Children’s Hospital
6. Diagnosing Congenital Heart Defects in Children; Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital

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