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It is quite normal for a baby to sweat while feeding. However, if there is excessive sweating, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Before you make that doctor’s appointment to get the problem checked, read this article to understand the baby sweating phenomenon.
Reasons Your Baby Sweats While Breastfeeding
Usually, a baby sweats because of the natural process by which he releases excess body heat. The baby needs to cool off naturally because:
- Close Connection: The close, skin-to-skin contact with the feeding mother increases the baby’s body temperature.
- Oodles of Energy: Suckling needs a lot of energy. The movement of the jaw while suckling is a kind of exercise for the baby and the baby sweats as a result of putting in the effort.
- Hot Head: Have you also noticed the baby’s head sweating while breastfeeding? Many mothers tend to hold the baby in the same cradle position while feeding. Often, the mother holds the baby’s head in her palms in this position for a long time. This passes on more warmth from the palm, causing the baby’s head to sweat.
- Too Many Layers: Sometimes, the baby is warm because of the many layers he is covered in. That may make him sweat.
- Need for Fresh Air: The feeding room may be cramped, stuffy, and without ventilation. This warm environment makes the baby sweat more while breastfeeding.
However, there may be other reasons why your baby is sweating while breastfeeding – reasons that may require medical attention. We discuss that below.
Why Does the Baby’s Head Sweat?
Sweating on the baby’s head is caused by two main reasons:
- Only the baby’s head has active sweat glands while the rest of the body does not have any. So, the head sweats more than the rest of the body when the baby is feeling hot, especially while feeding.
- The temperature of the baby’s head is always higher than the rest of his body.
Is It a Sign of a Health Issue?
As new parents, one of the most natural concerns you may have is whether this is because of an underlying ailment. While mild sweating in babies is not usually a cause for concern, if you notice unnatural and excessive sweating on your baby’s head, it may indicate a health problem. It could be any of the following:
- Pulmonary Atresia: It is a form of congenital heart disease that blocks the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs and the baby does not get enough oxygen. This happens because the pulmonary valve, which regulates the blood flow from the heart to the lungs, has a malformation and does not open. Excessive sweating while breastfeeding is a key indicator of this ailment.
- Hyperthyroidism: Excessive sweating can also be caused by an overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism.
- Infection With Fever: The baby can sweat excessively if there is some sort of infection, accompanied by fever.
4. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: In extreme cases, some babies have a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). They could show signs of excessive sweating. While there is no conclusive evidence of this connection, according to a study, a majority of mothers whose babies suffered from SIDS said that they noticed that their babies would sweat too much.
5. Congestive Heart Failure: This ailment is caused by either a structural problem or a weak muscle in the heart. Hence, the baby’s heart is unable to supply enough blood to the rest of the body. This ailment is marked by excessive sweating as well.
Tips to Minimize Baby Sweating During Breastfeeding
Now that you know the reasons behind this, you can take measures to make life more comfortable for your bundle of joy. Here are some tips and tricks to do that:
- Feed the baby in an airy room with moderate temperature. The room should ideally be neither too hot nor too cold.
- During the summer season, you and your baby should both wear soft, cotton clothes while breastfeeding. Even during winters, don’t wear too many layers, heavy woollen clothes or clothes made of materials that may cause skin irritation and sweat. Try to wear light, soft, and warm woollens.
- Keep the baby’s head bare to let it breathe while breastfeeding. Take off any cap or scarf from the baby’s head before feeding. During winters, a cotton cap can be used to cover the baby’s head.
- If you are breastfeeding the baby in public, you should preferably use a cotton nursing cloak to let the air circulate well.
- You and your baby should avoid polyester garments while feeding.
- Feed your baby from both breasts. That will ensure that your baby is not in one fixed position the entire time during feeding, and this movement will reduce heat from trapping.
- Do not assume that the baby is feeling cold all the time and overdress him/her in the process. Breastfeeding increases the baby’s body temperature as he is putting in an effort while suckling, and also because he is in close contact with another human body. Too many layers of clothes can add to the baby’s discomfort.
- You and your baby should not wear tight clothes during feedings. This will make both of you sweaty and uncomfortable.
When to Consult Your Doctor
You should consult your paediatrician if you notice these symptoms:
- Breathing Problems: Your baby is breathing too hard, too slow, or in gasps.
- Tiredness: You may notice constant lethargy or sleepiness, even during breastfeeding.
- Aversion to Feeding: You baby may not be eager to feed at all.
- Bluish Skin: In some rare cases, the baby skin may develop a bluish shade.
Sweating while feeding is usually not a problem in babies, but in some cases, it may be due to an underlying medical condition. If your baby’s sweating does not stop or improve despite trying the above-mentioned methods, please consult your doctor immediately.
Also Read: Drinking Water During Breastfeeding