May 7, 2024
May 7, 2024

Can babies overheat: Must-know facts about overheating in newborns and infants

When babies come into the world, they need help doing most things — keeping a consistent body temperature, included. It’s one of the reasons why babies are wrapped in a blanket after birth, and are sometimes placed under a warmer. Because it’s so easy for babies’ body temperatures to change, it’s certainly possible for a baby to be too warm and even to overheat. Luckily, there are ways you can help keep your baby from overheating.
Megan N. Freeland, PharmD
Written by
Megan N. Freeland, PharmD
Content Writer
Dr. Marcy Borieux
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Marcy Borieux

How can babies overheat?

Not only can babies overheat easily, but they can quickly become dehydrated too. As adults, our bodies are able to keep a consistent body temperature on their own, even when the temperature or conditions around us change. It takes some time for babies to develop that skill. So their body temperature is more dependent on the temperature and conditions around them.

Babies can overheat in a number of different ways:

  • In warm or hot weather, especially if outside and in direct sunlight, or in a confined space like a car 
  • In cool or cold weather if they have on clothing, coats, and/or blankets that keep them too warm

How to tell if a newborn or infant is too hot

Newborn and infant overheating symptoms to watch out for

On average, a newborn’s body temperature should be around 97.5°F. As babies get older, their average body temperature changes, and can fall between 97.5°F and 99.5°F. This may vary slightly, depending on where on your baby’s body you take their temperature. 

When a baby is overheating, their body temperature may or may not go up, meaning they won’t necessarily have a fever. But there are multiple signs that might clue you into whether your baby is overheating.

If a newborn or infant is too hot, the symptoms aren’t always obvious. But they may include:

  • Being warm to the touch
  • Reddish or flushed cheeks
  • Reddish or hot ears or neck
  • Sweating
  • Acting fussy or irritable

Other signs of overheating could include a faster than normal heartbeat, less activity than normal (lethargy), vomiting, or dizziness.

What if my newborn is hot but has no fever?

Sometimes a baby may feel warm or hot to the touch, but checking their body temperature with a thermometer doesn’t pick up a fever. If your baby feels warm or hot, look out for other symptoms that might suggest they are overheating. 

Understandably, this can be a bit of a “gray area” for parents. You can always text Summer Health’s on-call pediatricians to get advice on you and your family’s specific situation.

How to prevent overheating in babies

Overheating is serious business for babies and young children, so prevention is the best way to keep your baby from having to deal with any consequences of overheating. Here are a few tips for keeping your baby cool:

  • Keep them hydrated. If your baby doesn’t have enough water content in their body — which they get from breastmilk or formula — they will have a harder time keeping their own body temperature. Being dehydrated can lead to more serious heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Dress them in light clothing that’s not too tight. It’s possible to dress your baby to keep them cool while still protecting them from the sun. Putting them in light-colored, loose clothing, while also using sunscreen and hats with a wide brim can help you strike the right balance. It can be helpful to avoid multiple layers of clothing. 
  • Limit the time your baby spends in heat or direct sunlight if they are less than 6 months old. While it may be tempting to spend warm or hot days outside in the fresh air, it’s not the best idea for young babies to get too much sun or heat exposure. Avoid direct sun exposure for babies under 6 months old. A shaded area is the perfect place for a baby to enjoy the outdoors. 
  • Mind stroller and car seat time. Be especially careful about how long your baby is in a stroller or car seat when outdoors or on hot days since these small spaces can get hot quickly. The built-in shade that comes with strollers can be helpful for blocking direct sunlight, but avoid covering your baby’s stroller or car seat with a blanket because this can make the space even hotter.
  • Use window shades to filter sunlight reaching your baby’s car seat. This will offer protection from the sun’s light on your baby’s skin, as well as the heat from the sun.
  • Never leave babies or young children alone in a car. No matter the temperature outside or the season, never leave a baby unattended in a car.

How do I cool my baby down if they are overheating?

Being in high temperatures, especially with high humidity levels, can cause serious heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. If a baby is overheating due to sun exposure, or heat from the outdoors, the best thing to do is take the baby indoors, to a location with air conditioning, or to a cooler room. 

The goal is to remove the source of heat and gradually cool your baby down. Below are several ways to do so:

  • Give them fluids — breastmilk or formula for babies less than six months.
  • Take off excess clothing 
  • Wet a washcloth with cool (not cold) water and gently pat your baby’s forehead or fan them with the washcloth.
  • Give your baby a lukewarm bath. Do not put your baby in cold or icy water.

Overheating in newborns at night: Is SIDS a concern?

At nighttime, the possibility of your baby overheating could make them uncomfortable. But more importantly, it can increase your child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Below are answers to a few important questions about the connection between SIDS and your baby’s temperature at night. 

Can overheating cause SIDS?

Yes — overheating during sleep can increase babies’ risk of SIDS. So it’s important to prioritize keeping your baby cool at night, even when it’s cool or cold outside.

Does room temperature affect the risk of SIDS?

Scientists have done research to find out whether room temperature where a baby is sleeping is linked to SIDS. After looking at more than 60,000 SIDS cases from the 1970s to the early 2000s, they found that in some cases, there is a relationship between room temperature and SIDS deaths, especially in the summer.

How do you cool down a hot baby at night?

Keeping your baby cool in their crib or bassinet at night is important in any season. In cooler months, you might think you need to layer your baby in lots of warm pajamas, swaddling blankets, etc. to keep them from getting too cold. But too many warm layers can cause babies to overheat.

Here are a few tips to help you find the right balance:

  • Keep your baby’s room temperature between 68°F and 72°F. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider using a fan or portable air conditioner that can be placed in your baby’s room. Fans and air conditioners should always be far out of your baby’s reach and not directly pointed at them.
  • Keep blankets out of your baby’s crib or bassinet. Not only do they pose a suffocation risk, but they can also crowd your baby and raise the temperature.
  • Dress your baby like you would dress at night. Add no more than one extra layer, such as a swaddle if it’s right for their age.
  • Make sure your baby isn’t sleeping near a heat source, like a heater or radiator.
  • Take off any hats or head coverings before your baby goes to sleep.
  • Avoid overly warm bedding materials like wool sheets.

No matter the season, it can be a good idea to talk to a pediatrician about ways to keep your baby from overheating. If you have specific questions about SIDS, Summer Health’s sleep specialist is just a text away.


American Academy of Pediatrics. Extreme Temperatures: Disaster Management Resources. 

American Academy of Pediatrics: Heat Exposure and Reactions. 

Frontiers in pediatrics. Hyperthermia and Heat Stress as Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Narrative Review. 

Epidemiology. Ambient Temperature and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in the United States. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 28(5), 728–734.

Megan N. Freeland, PharmD
Content Writer
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