Is it normal that my child sweats a lot at night?

 A toddler sleeping in bed, kicking the blanket off of her with her feet.
Photo credit: © Treasures & Travels / Stocksy United

Yes, most of the time it's very normal that your child sweats at night. If your toddler is sweating in their sleep, it's not necessarily caused by bedding or pajamas that are too warm. In fact, your little one might wake up sweaty despite their room being a crisp, cool temperature.

Why is my child sweating at night?

Babies and toddlers spend more time in REM sleep, a deep sleep stage, than adults and older children do. During this stage, their heart rate increases, which makes them more prone to heavy sweating at night. Babies and toddlers also have immature nervous systems, meaning they're not be able to regulate their body temperature as well as adults can just yet.

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Toddler sweat at night might range from moderate dampness to isolated head sweating to ending up completely drenched in sweat and needing new sheets and PJs. Localized sweating on the palms or soles of the feet is also common – these areas contain the highest proportion of sweat glands in our bodies.

Even though your child is waking up in sweaty, damp pajamas, they could be entirely content. On the other hand, your child might be sweating because they’re too hot. How can you tell the difference between an overheated child and a child with normal night sweating? An overheated child feels warm earlier in the night, before they reach the deep sleep stage.

Night terrors are another potential cause of toddlers sweating in their sleep. A night terror is a sleep disruption similar to a nightmare, but much more dramatic. It’s typically harmless but can leave your child inconsolable. They might shout, scream, thrash around, be sweaty, and even have an increased heart rate. Unlike nightmares, your little one won’t remember their night terrors the next day. Talk to your child’s doctor about night terrors if they're happening repeatedly.

In general, sweating while sleeping will happen less often over time. As your child grows, they’ll still sweat at night (everyone does!), but they probably won't wake up drenched. They’ll also learn to self-regulate and take off blankets if they’re too hot.

What can I do to help with my toddler's sweating at night?

Although your toddler sweating in their sleep can seem worrisome, it's usually not a cause for concern. That said, there are still ways you can help keep your child cool and comfortable at night.

Here are a few tips:

  • Dress them in one layer of pajamas. Stick to regular cotton instead of fleece.
  • Use the right sheets. Sheets and crib sheets with temperature-regulating or moisture-wicking technology might help minimize sweating, as could those that are made of linen or lyocell.
  • Make sure there aren’t too many blankets on their bed. And for babies under the age of 1, skip blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals altogether. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns these can increase the risk of suffocation.
  • Set their room to the ideal sleeping temperature. For babies and toddlers, that means somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees. (Adults tend to sleep better at 60 to 67 degrees.)
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When should I call the doctor about my toddler sweating in their sleep?

Most sweating at night is normal, but it can sometimes indicate a mild, temporary problem or a more serious medical condition. For example, if your child has a cold or an infection, they might sweat more as their body works to fight it off. And a child with sleep apnea – a disorder in which breathing stops repeatedly during sleep – may sweat as they work harder to get a breath.

Children with overactive sweat glands could have hyperhidrosis, or abnormal, excessive sweating. They may sweat excessively all over their body or just on certain parts, like their underarms, palms, or face. (However, hyperhidrosis usually happens during the day, not at night.) Certain medical conditions, including an infection, a chronic disease, or a hormone disorder, can cause hyperhidrosis. If you suspect your child might have hyperhidrosis, talk to their doctor. They can perform testing to diagnose your child and then determine the appropriate treatment, such as a topical or oral medication.

Lastly, watch for any additional symptoms that accompany your child's sweating at night:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring
  • Gasping
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Pain in a specific area
  • Any other symptoms of illness

If your child has one or more of these symptoms, or if you just want to make sure there's no cause for concern, call their doctor. Otherwise, take some comfort in knowing that sweating at night is a normal and common part of childhood. Your little one will likely grow out of it in time – and in the meantime, you can make simple adjustments to keep them cool and comfortable.

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New Kids Center. Undated. Baby Sweating. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Nemours KidsHealth. 2017. Night Terrors. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

American Academy of Pediatrics. 2012. Sleep apnea detection. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

UpToDate. 2021. Evaluation of the Patient with Night Sweats or Generalized Hyperhidrosis. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Cleveland Clinic. 2021. What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep? a new window [Accessed May 2022]

SickKids. 2013. Hyperhidrosis. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Johns Hopkins HealthCare. 2021. Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis).,P00284 [Accessed May 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2022. Night Sweats. a new window [Accessed May 2022]

Maggie Getz

Maggie Getz is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, wellness, and motherhood. She lives in Colorado with her husband and young son and daughter. She enjoys hiking, yoga, baking (and eating said baked goods), as well as connecting with other moms.