What if I told you there was a way to prevent your baby sweating in the car? In fact, there’s more than one way. Sweaty babies aren’t fun to hold and they certainly can’t be comfortable sitting in it on long car rides.
Whether it’s cooling towels or super fancy ventilation systems, there are ways to help your baby keep cool as a cucumber. We’re going to answer all of your questions about why babies sweat so much and how to keep them cool.
Why Do Babies Sweat so Much?
Surprisingly enough, newborns and infants have fully developed sweat glands in their heads and necks (1). Their bodies are still adjusting to being earthside so it makes sense that they’re sweating to regulate their temperature.
While sweating babies are completely normal, there are some instances where you may want to contact your pediatrician:
- Congenital heart defects: These will present themselves at birth or shortly after. A study was done that found sweating can actually help predict congestive heart failure in kids (2).
- Hyperhidrosis: This is a condition in which the body sweats even at regular body temperature. There are two types: primary and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis is more common as secondary is more of a side effect from other issues (3).
- Overheating and SIDS: Sweating is a good sign that the body is working against overheating. It’s also a good indicator that your baby is too hot. It’s important to keep baby comfortable because overheating is a major cause of SIDS.
- Breathing issues: Trouble breathing causes the body to work extra hard. This can, in turn, cause the body to sweat.
- Thyroid problems: Excessive sweating is a side effect of hyperthyroidism (4).
Dangers of Overheating
Overheating can still happen during cool months if you aren’t careful (5). Your baby’s internal temperature should be between 98 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (6). The best way to determine if your baby is too hot is to feel the nape of their neck.
If their cheeks are flushed and they’re breathing rapidly, those are good indicators of overheating as well. Just remember, if you’re too warm then your baby probably is too.
How to Keep Baby Cool
I’ve probably terrified you with all this talk of overheating, but don’t despair. There are all kinds of products and tips out there meant to help baby stay cool (7). Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Control the temperature when possible: The best way to prevent overheating is to not be in too warm of an area (obviously). So while you’re in the car, use the AC if possible to keep the area at a cool temperature.
- Dress them appropriately for the weather: It may be tempting to bundle baby up while out and about, but this can cause overheating quite quickly. If it’s 75 degrees out and your mother-in-law is insisting baby wears a hat and you feel your baby is too hot, politely tell her to mind her own business. It may save your baby’s life.
- Cooling towels: If you’re in a pinch and you need to help your baby cool off quickly, cooling towels are beneficial. This helps bring down the body temperature and alleviate overheating. Cooling towels should only be used over the harness, never underneath.
Never put anything behind a baby’s head or neck because anything that causes the baby’s head to be pushed forward can compromise their airway
Editor's Note:Kristen Gardiner, CPST
- Sweating is okay! So long as they don’t show signs of overheating. If your baby seems hot and they’re sweating then that’s okay. Sweating is the body’s natural response to regulating body temperature.
1. Blocking the Sun
Sun protection doesn’t just come in a bottle. There are a few different ways you can block the sun from heating the car interior too much. Each come with their own advantages, but they’re all valid options to consider:
Window tinting isn’t only beneficial in giving drivers and passengers more privacy. It can also block some of the harmful UV rays and keep your car’s interior temperature cooler as well. To top it off, a tinted window can also prevent shattered glass from flying inside of your car in the event of an accident (8).
Tinting may even reduce the temperature inside your car by up to 70 percent. Remember, though, that there are laws in place. If you do decide to tint your windows, find out your state’s laws regarding window tint (9).
These are really nice when you’re out and about and your car is parked in a sunny area or your driveway isn’t shaded. There are a few different types of reflective sunshades:
- Accordion-style: They simply fold open like an accordion and are placed on the front windshield. The reflective surface reflects the sun rays outward and reduces interior temperatures.
- Mesh sunshades: These go on the side windows and can help block the sun while you’re driving. While these are nice for keeping the bright sun out of eyeballs, they can make the view out of the window pretty dark. This can cause difficulty for the driver if they need to back out of a parking space or change lanes.
- Solar/reflective car covers: If you don’t have a garage at home, reflective car covers can help keep the car cool while it’s parked. They work in a similar way to the accordion-style sunshade, but they fit over your entire car. Of course, this would be the most labor-intensive option.
2. Light-Colored Car Seats
I’m not telling you to buy a new car if you have dark seats but cars with a lighter interior have an advantage. This also goes for your child’s car seat.
If you’re expecting a baby soon and you’re worried about the summer months, we recommend getting a seat with light-colored fabric. This won’t absorb as much heat as darker colors.
Black car seats can reach upwards of 192 degrees Fahrenheit (10). Some car seats come with moisture wicking fabric which can help regulate sweating and body temperature.
3. The Noggle
There’s also a contraption called the Noggle that can be helpful if your back seat doesn’t cool down efficiently. You can hook up the Noggle to your car’s air vent and feed it into the back seat. This way, the AC can better reach your kids. I’ve never personally tried this, but it seems to have a fair amount of positive reviews.
There are Noggle options for forward-facing and rear-facing babies. They also come in 6-foot and 10-foot options. This is nice because you can find one to accommodate your car interior best.
They can be used with both the heat and air conditioning and are easy to remove and install. The downside to this is that it may get in the way if you have a front-seat passenger.
4. Encourage Sweating
I briefly mentioned sweating above but didn’t really go into detail about how you can encourage it. Sweating is your baby’s best defense against overheating.
If you have a toddler or older child, one of those spray bottles with a fan may be fun for them (if you aren’t afraid of a potential mess).
5. Don’t Leave Your Child Alone in the Car
This one is obvious, but it’s still such a prominent issue that I feel it’s worth mentioning. Leaving your child unattended in the car, especially on a hot and sunny day, can lead to overheating and even death.
Temperatures inside a car can rise nearly twenty degrees in just ten minutes even during mild temperatures (11). It’s never okay to leave your baby alone in the car for any amount of time, even if it’s for a minute.
Simmer Down, Baby
Babies get hot much easier than we do and that means overheating happens much more quickly. Keeping baby cool in the car can prove to be troublesome, especially if you’re the only other one in the car.
By dressing them appropriately and maintaining cool temperatures as far as possible, your baby should be much more comfortable.
What kind of tricks do you use in the car? Have you tried the Noggle before? Let us know!