As a new mother or even after becoming a mother the third time, we never stop worrying about the safety of our kids. Be it a fall, cut, bruises, sudden pain, inconsolable cry or an unexplained rise in temperature, we always get anxious about our babies. Mothers are wired in a way that we can get worried if our child becomes too quiet or calm. These worries increase multifold if you discover that your baby feels suddenly too hot, but there’s no indication of a fever, and can make you second guess that thermometer of yours.
The normal temperature of babies and children ranges from 97.9°F (36.6°C) to 99°F (37.2°C). Your baby has a fever if the rectal or ear readings from a thermometer are 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, mouth reading is 100°F (37.8°C) or higher, and readings from armpit are 99°F (37.2°C) or higher. There can be many reasons why your little one’s head or body is hot but doesn’t have a fever, for instance, if your baby is overdressed, hot weather, if she’s teething, or gets too excited, your baby does a lot of physical activity, or you have a faulty thermometer. If you feel that your baby is getting too hot, then your baby is at risk of SIDS. So, it would be better if you undress her and cool her down by offering more fluids, taking her to a cooler room, give her a sponge bath in lukewarm water, if outside then avoid being in direct sunlight and dress her appropriately for the weather. Although it is not uncommon for babies head or body to be hot because they are still not at the age where they can regulate their own temperature. Still, if you think that your baby is in distress and is not comfortable, has trouble breathing, then you should immediately call or visit your doctor.
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How to check if your baby is overheating?
Other than checking her temperature through a thermometer, there’s another way to check whether your baby is overheated or not- touch her ears and neck. If her ears are red and hot and neck is sweating, then she’s definitely overheated.
Signs to look out for-
- Rapid breathing
- Your baby feels too warm on touch
- Your baby has become unresponsive
- Your baby seems confused or dizzy
- Your baby turns red
Why does your baby feel hot but is not feverish?
There are many reasons why babies feel hot but have a normal temperature…
Your baby is overdressed
Often out of worry that our baby might feel colder than adults tempt us into overdressing our kid. Every mother does this, adding layer upon layers so that our child remains warm. But, this can backfire when our baby can feel extremely hot in not-so-cold weather. Warm clothes or even a hat on your baby’s head traps heat under it and makes your baby uncomfortable and too hot. Covering your baby in warm clothes more than the required amount can result in your baby overheating.
What you can do is remove your baby’s clothes for 15 to 20 minutes and check whether her temperature has gone down. Wear the baby in cotton clothes during normal temperature and in winter dress her in as many layers as you’re wearing.
Hot Weather outside
The second reason your baby is feeling too hot when you’re outside can be the harsh sunlight or the hot weather she’s in. It is common for adults for our body temperature to increase if we live in humid and sunny weather. Even when you stay in an AC room, the minute you walk outside in the heat, your baby can feel extremely hot and may turn red.
The best way you can avoid this is to keep your baby under a shade with enough airflow around her. Make sure to dress her appropriately for the weather.
Your baby is Teething
If your baby is teething, then it can be one of the reasons why your baby feels hot. The inflammation in the gums can make your baby uncomfortable and can lead to anxiety or stress in baby, making his head feel hot.
Teething can start as early as 2 months, and it is known that teething can cause fever as well. I remember when my little one was 7 months old and before his cute little tooth erupted, he had a mild fever and was quite fussy.
If your baby is teething, you can offer rubber toys, cold cucumber and teething toys to soothe his sore gums.
Your baby is over-excited
The world is a huge place for her and a never ending process of discovering things for them. So exploring various things unexpectedly can make her very exciting. Sometimes, she can be in a playful mood where she is giggling, chuckling and laughing her heads off in peek-a-boo games.
This happens because your baby is moving around a lot which increases blood circulation to the head.
The best way to avoid your baby feeling hot this way is to try to calm her down. You can try to reading something to her or hum a lullaby or carry her in your arms and hug her.
When your baby’s head feels hot, the first thing you’ll do is check her temperature. You’ll come to the conclusion that she has a fever because the thermometer indicated so, but it is also possible that your thermometer doesn’t work properly and is showing you a faulty reading.
Sometimes thermometers run out of battery and don’t work properly, so it’s better to get a ‘second opinion’ from another thermometer. If both thermometers show the same readings, then your baby does have a fever.
Your baby is lying down
Sometimes because of your baby’s position, the blood flows straight to the head, which can cause the baby’s head to feel warm on touch. At the same time, her hands and feet can seem cool compared to her head.
Your baby’s head is too hot
Because her thermoregulation system is developing, they lose heat through their heads. So, it is quite alright for their head to feel warmer than the rest of the body. Make sure that her head is not covered completely for a prolonged time as it will trap heat inside and will not let heat escape from their head.
So, cool her head by removing any covering on the head and take her in your arms and move around.
How to cool down your baby?
- You can offer her fluids
- Dress in comfortable clothes and weather-appropriate
- If going out, make sure there is plenty of airflows and stay under a shade
- Give her sponge bath in lukewarm water
- Take her to a cooler room
- See your pediatrician if symptoms worsen
When should you see a doctor?
You should immediately see or call a doctor if-
- Your baby seems in distress
- Your baby seems dehydrated even after having fluids
- Your baby is excessively vomiting or having diarrhea
- Your baby has a fever and the temperature isn’t going down
- Your baby still seems hot even after trying to cool her down
Babies have a different temperature at different times, and the main reason could be their inability to regulate their own body temperatures because it is still developing. But, you should still lookout for any signs of your baby being overheated and try to cool her down. If the symptoms don’t seem to decrease, book an appointment with the pediatrician immediately.
Parenting is hard, and especially when your baby is sick or seems not their usual self. We will worry about every little thing, but that’s our job, right?
Babies can feel hot for multiple reasons and not just because they have a fever. It gets tricky taking care of a baby because we are still learning about them and their bodies are still in a developing stage.
What you need to remember is that if you feel something’s not right and your baby isn’t well, then trust your instincts and seek professional help and advice.
Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid, you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best’.