Newborn babies cannot regulate their body temperature, so it is important for new parents to understand the symptoms of overheating. Just like they can overheat, they can also get too cold very quickly. Infant overheating is a concern in all new babies, but even more so in premature babies, especially those who are underweight. If a baby is over overheated, they do not have the ability to sweat and cool themselves down. Extreme temperatures can make a baby not feed well, appear lethargic, and experience severe complications. This article will help you see the signs of an overheated baby, what to do, and things to watch out for.


What Are the Symptoms of Baby Overheating?

The signs of an overheated baby may not appear until the situation is serious. There are a few early signs to look for including; drinking extra fluids, acting very sleepy, and skin that is cooler to the touch than normal. These aren’t unusual behaviors for a new baby, so you may not know to cool him or her off until it is almost too late.

The symptoms of a severely overheated baby include:

  • Red, hot skin with no moisture. This is actually normal when baby begins to heat up. If a baby remains overheated, then it is a danger signal to cool baby down.
  • Rectal temperature of 103 degrees and up. If a baby is not suffering from any illness and running a temperature this high, their body is too hot.
  • Not responding to your voice or touch. A baby that has become non-responsive is in serious danger. Call their name and do a chest “sternal” rub and see if you can get them to open their eyes or move.
  • Unusually sleepy. A baby that is overheated may sleep more than normal, or not wake up from a usual nap.
  • Heart rate is faster than normal. A normal resting heart rate in an infant is around 80 to 160 beats per minute. Older babies are around 80 to 130 beats per minute. A heart rate that is faster than this is a signal that baby may be too hot.
  • Faster breathing than normal. Normal respirations in a baby is around 24 to 30 breaths per minute. If you notice shallow, fast breathing, your baby could be in danger of heat stroke.
  • Seems confused or anxious. Excessive crying, wanting to feed then stopping and crying more, wanting picked up then wanting to be put back down right away are all signs that a baby is confused and/or anxious. This could be a sign of many things, but could signal baby is too hot.

In addition to the above symptoms of baby overheating, your baby may also show signs of dehydration such as:

  • No wet diaper for 6 hours
  • Inside of mouth is dry
  • Not crying tears
  • Strong dark colored urine
  • Eyes appear sunken
  • Fontanels are sunk in
  • Extremities are cool to touch and mottled

What Can I Do About It? 

If you notice symptoms of baby overheating, you need to cool your baby right away. Do not wait, it doesn’t take long for things to become very serious in a baby. Their body mass to temperature ratio is much smaller than an adult's. It only takes minutes for a baby to become dehydrated and suffer brain damage from heat.

If you notice your baby or anyone else’s baby suffering from signs of heat related illness, call 9-1-1 right away. Then take these steps:

  1. 1. Remove Clothing

Remove any clothing and transfer to a cooler area. Place the baby into shade outside or in a cooler spot. Try to get the baby inside where it is cooler, if possible Do not wrap the baby in blankets. 

  1. 2. Give a Cool Sponge Bath

Give baby a cool spongebath. If you are outside at an event, use bottled water and some napkins to wipe baby down. Have someone fan the baby while you wipe with cool water.

  1. 3. Do Not Use Fever Medication

Fever medication will not work in the case of heat related illness and could cause issues with baby’s body. Do not give any kind of medications or food. If baby is not conscious do not give anything by mouth until help arrives. 

  1. 4. If Conscious, Give Fluids

If baby is alert and only has mild symptoms, give them something to drink. Either breastfeed right away or give a bottle of formula. It is okay to give some water or electrolyte replacement to a baby over 4 months of age. Any younger, only use formula or breastmilk.

  1. 5. Keep Baby Out of the Heat

After an episode of heat related illness, keep your baby out of the heat. You may have to have a plan for outdoor events on hot days, or leave the baby with a sitter. Think about keeping your home as cool as possible, and do not overdress or wrap baby in blankets.

Complications of Baby Overheating

It is important to know the symptoms of baby overheating, because it can cause serious complications. Babies can even become overheated from; pajamas, blankets, swaddles, and a sleeping area that is kept too warm. The complications of a baby overheating include:

Heat Stroke

It only takes a few minutes in hot conditions for heat stroke to occur in babies. This is especially common with babies left in a hot car. The inside of a car in summer can easily go over 120 degrees, even in a few minutes. Heat stroke can also occur in a hot room that has little to no airflow, or outside in direct sunlight. 

Brain Damage

A baby’s brain tissue is very sensitive to high temperatures. If body temperature is too high for too long, brain damage can occur. It only takes a few minutes, so getting baby’s body temperature down as quickly as possible is very important. Cool the head first, since that is where most heat is lost.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

While SIDS is still unexplained, many researchers believe that body temperature is a factor. Most SIDS deaths occur in the winter, and there is evidence that babies were overdressed and had too many blankets.