As you nurse your new baby, you likely have gobs of questions that arise. For me, I felt like I didn’t retain a thing in all those baby books I read. Is this normal? Is it not? What do I do?!?
Ah, but this is all normal, so don’t worry, fellow mamas!
I’ve received many questions about whether it’s normal for a baby to sweat while breastfeeding. And I’ve gotten some about the baby’s head sweating while bottle feeding too. It sounds like we’re all on the same page here!
Anyway, there’s a lot to discuss, so let me get to what happens when a baby is sweating while feeding.
Is sweating during breastfeeding normal?
Yes, it is. In fact, I was sweaty myself sometimes. A lot of that I could attribute to external conditions. In winter in China, they turn the heat up to the extreme. So I felt like both me and each of my daughters went through discomfort there.
Summer was another pain point because no one wanted to turn on the air conditioning too much. They think it could make you sick. Little do they realize that babies (and grownups!) need to be comfortable for a good nursing session.
So, yes, it’s normal when the baby sweats while eating. But there are some conditions where excessive sweating could be an indicator. I’ll talk about those shortly so that if you have any additional concerns, you can bring them up with your pediatrician.
Why do babies sweat while breastfeeding?
In general, for most mamas, you’ll find that there are straightforward reasons why your baby is sweating while breastfeeding.
That skin-to-skin bonding is such a beautiful thing to connect us. However, if you’re feeling hot (thank you, hormones), that could transfer to your baby. This is easily enough to make your baby feel hot and start sweating during the feeding session.
- Surrounding temperature
In the hospital with my youngest, it was summer. And as I mentioned, they don’t really like to turn on the air conditioning in China, even on those hot days. I was so uncomfortable because they kept turning the temperature up rather than down.
My husband demanded they cool our room down, and finally, my youngest latched happily, and I was able to rest. The nurses seemed genuinely amazed that once the room cooled down, so too did our problems.
- Too many layers
Babies, indeed, have a more challenging time regulating their body temperatures. That’s why everyone gives you a zillion receiving blankets. But you’ll find many uses for those.
Still, all those extra layers can make your baby feel uncomfortable and sweaty. Those breastfeeding covers are another reason. I used one when I nursed both of my girls in public. For me, it was just to keep people away. In China, people are very friendly and curious. On a regular day, people would point and stare at the foreigner. I didn’t want people pointing and staring at me while I was nursing.
To have a good letdown, you need to relax, so it was vital for me to feel comfortable. Sometimes though, my daughters did not like that cover, so I’d move to a place where I could face a wall and remove the cover to make us both happy.
And clothing! Don’t forget about that! Oh, my mother-in-law would over-bundle our babies, and she’d wonder why they would sweat while bottle-feeding my expressed milk. I had to remind her to remove their little hats when she had them indoors, which did the trick.
- Lack of position change
Another thing that could be making the baby sweat while eating is that you’re holding her in the same position the whole time. I loved side-lying for this reason. It was easy to scooch back just a little to let some air between us and keep our body temperatures comfortable.
Is it normal for a baby to sweat on the head?
Yes! Babies have sweat glands on their forehead and scalp. The other sweat glands haven’t yet developed in the body, but they will. For this reason, the baby’s head may get sweaty while you’re nursing.
And another fun fact: your baby’s head will always have a higher temperature than the rest of the body.
Does breastfeeding cause night sweat?
Again, those sweat glands are on the head and scalp. So with those above factors I mentioned, it can certainly happen. Especially because your hormones are going bonkers too. Your estrogen is lower, and with breastfeeding, those levels stay lower. I remember many nights feeling like I was dripping with sweat because of it, and it was always more challenging to nurse until I could cool myself down.
When should I worry about a sweaty baby?
Naturally, you’re wondering what isn’t normal when it comes to a baby that sweats while breastfeeding. Remember, mild sweating is usually normal, especially when those other factors listed above come into play. But if your baby seems excessively sweaty, you’ll want to address your concerns with the doctor.
It could indicate certain health conditions like pulmonary atresia. This congenital heart disease keeps the baby from getting enough oxygen. During breastfeeding, excessive sweating tends to be a massive clue to this.
Hyperthyroidism or infection with fever is another reason the baby might sweat excessively while nursing or bottle-feeding. I wouldn’t start freaking out, but please schedule an appointment with the doctor to check the baby out if you have concerns.
And just to clarify, I know how we all are as moms. We worry. It is ingrained into our genetic code. I get it. But if you notice any of the following, that’s when you shouldn’t delay in getting this sweating business looked at:
- Baby doesn’t eat enough or continually falls asleep right after starting to nurse
- Weight isn’t being gained properly
- Shortness of breath, labored breathing or gasping
- Blueish tint to the skin
Even if you notice these things, staying calm and contacting your pediatrician is essential. For the vast majority of you mamas, though, you’ll see that this phase passes as those sweat glands develop, and the baby’s head doesn’t get sweaty during feeding anymore.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.