Are Saunas Safe for Kids?

In Finland, saunas are well-loved and a part of everyday life. There is one sauna for about every two people in Finland! With saunas being a big part of their culture, they’ve developed guidelines as to if and how infants and children can sauna.

According to to the authors of “The sauna and children“, Finish children under 7 are “rarely allowed into a sauna”.  Livestrong.com points out that children under one year of age do not have regulatory systems that are fully developed. In fact, all children who are pre-pubescent can not fully regulate their body temperature like the typical adult. Because of this, they can overheat much quicker than adults, which explains why most kids tend to hop out of the sauna before mom and dad. We suggest not allowing your children to exceed 15 minutes in a sauna, while adults can extend their time to around 30 minutes.

Truthfully, contact burns from the heater are the biggest threats to children in saunas. This is not an issue in an infrared sauna as the heater is not exposed. However, in a traditional sauna the rock-filled heater is located inside the sauna unit and heats up as hot as the room. The metal grates which cover the rocks are especially a hazard for burns. If your little ones are wiggly or unpredictable, it may be better to get an infrared sauna or not let them use the sauna altogether.

So what’s the verdict?

Basically, it’s up to each parents’ discretion. The study above suggests that you may allow your children to have brief (15 minutes or less), supervised sauna sessions starting at age 7. During and after the session, it is important to observe your child for signs of overheating.