Babies are expected to be soft and sweet-smelling, but sometimes sweat can get in the way! Here are useful tips on how to Prevent Excess Sweating in Babies.
We don’t usually associate sweating to babies, do we? Babies are supposed to look cute, smell good and stay fresh all the time. It’s easier to visualize someone who just finished a heavy workout or is at home experiencing a power cut sweating profusely. But little babies? It can be worrying that, in spite of taking such good care of your little ones, they still end up sweating a lot.
Why do babies sweat?
Sweating is the body’s response to an increase in the temperature around us. It is the body’s way of cooling off in a warm environment, and it’s the same with babies. Like adults, babies also have sweat glands, and most of them are located around their head and neck. However, the apocrine glands, which cause the odor associated with sweat, don’t become active till puberty, which is why babies don’t stink even when they sweat a lot.
Yet babies still do sweat. Babies sweat mostly during deep sleep since they don’t move around as much as adults do. Lying in one position increases the body temperature, and causes the baby to sweat. This is more if the room is over heated or if they are over dressed.
Another occasion when babies sweat a lot is during breastfeeding. The close contact to the mother’s body can raise the baby’s body temperature. What’s more, sucking requires energy, and putting in the effort can cause baby to sweat.
Babies with a fever also sweat more than usual as the body tries to regulate its temperature. In some cases, excessive sweating can be a hereditary problem. Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes excessive sweating, and in this case the baby will also have sweaty hands and feet. This is usually treated with ointments or medicine, or with surgical removal of the sweat glands.
In any case, it’s better to prevent excess sweating in your baby by taking care of a few basic things. Most of the time, excessive sweating is an indication that the baby is overheated, which can pose a risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
How to Prevent Excess Sweating in Babies
For us adults, showering twice a day and applying an antiperspirant can solve a big part of the problem. However, you can’t really apply deodorant on your infant! My friend’s mother had another technique which many Moms in India use – she used to powder her grandson from top to toe – so much so that she was called ‘Powder Ammamma’ or ‘Powder Grandma’! Now powder isn’t recommended for babies due to inhalation and allergy risks, so we can try out a few more tips to prevent excess sweating in babies.
1. Keep your room cool, without being cold. As a rule of thumb, if you feel comfortable in your regular clothes, then it’s probably the right temperature for your baby.
2. Watch your baby’s cues. If you find your baby’s legs sticking out of the blanket, he’s probably feeling hot. If he’s curled up with his feet tucked under, he’s probably cold. Pay attention to your baby’s body and adjust accordingly.
3. Keep your baby well hydrated. Under 6 months, breast milk provides all the hydration baby needs, but after that, offer water in frequent sips throughout the day, especially if its summer.
4. Bathe your baby twice a day in lukewarm water. Avoid using cold water even if it feels refreshing to you. You can also try sponge baths instead of complete baths to sponge off the heat.
5. Change diapers every 3-4 hours. Soiled diapers store moisture and create a humid environment which not only makes baby hot and uncomfortable but also gives rise to diaper rash. What’s better is to go diaper-free for a few hours every day.
6. Use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. Cloth diapers don’t trap in the moisture like disposable diapers do, and are more skin friendly.
7. Once your baby has started solids, offer her foods with high water content that cool the body, like watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, grapes, cauliflower, bell pepper, spinach and broccoli.
8. Avoid swaddling the baby, especially if she’s older than 3 months and doesn’t seem to like it. Many Moms in India have the habit of covering their babies completely with a blanket – this is not required unless it is truly cold.
9. Choose loose fitting clothes in breathable and natural fabrics for the baby. Your best bet is to opt for pure cotton or organic cotton clothing so the baby doesn’t have any irritation from the fabric.
10. Expose the baby to cool fresh air. It is not recommended to expose baby to bright sunlight, especially between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, but early morning or evening walks are good.
11. Avoid the use of heavy massage oils. In summer, it’s better to skip oils altogether, but if you really want to, go for lighter oils like coconut oil, sesame oil or olive oil. Apply the oil only after the baby’s skin has dried completely.
12. Skip baby wearing. Baby wearing keeps the baby in very close contact with the mother’s baby for long periods, which can cause overheating. Many Moms avoid baby wearing during summer, but if your baby tends to sweat at other times too, you may want to reduce the usage of your baby carrier more.
If you notice excess sweating in your baby even after taking care of all the above, it could be a sign of another underlying problem. Excessive sweating is a sign of congenital heart disease, sleep apnea, breathing trouble or hyperthyroidism. Consult your child’s doctor to rule out these causes and to get recommendations on handling the excess sweat. With the right tips and advice, you and your baby can stay fresh and happy not just in summer, but throughout the year!