While short periods of 5 minutes in a cooler sauna, such as an infrared sauna set at a lower temperature, may not be harmful to a child, err on the side of caution and not expose children under the age of ten to sauna usage.
What about children in an infrared sauna? While sauna bathing in Finland is an integral part of their culture, there are some significant things to keep in mind before taking a child into the heat of an infrared sauna.
Sauna bathing causes substantial circulatory changes in adults, but the adult body adjusts quite well to these changes. Children have an inferior thermoregulatory system when compared to an adult, have less body fat, and have more skin surface area to body weight ratios. Core temperatures in children increase more quickly because of the child’s smaller size and thinner skin tissue. The ability to lose core heat through sweating is not fully developed in children and thermoregulatory failure takes place more easily in children than in adults. Children’s bodies cannot release heat by blood from their core to their skin in a hot environment most likely because of their limited cardiovascular reserves. Oxygen uptake in children, as measured by stroke volume, is also markedly lower than in adults. Resting heart rates are higher in younger children than adults showing the heart already working at capacity to properly move blood throughout their smaller bodies. Basically, it is much harder for children’s bodies to release heat from their body cores through blood flow and sweating than it is for adults.
It is important to not let a child overheat. Their smaller bodies cannot compensate quickly enough to counteract the overheating. While short periods of 5 minutes in a cooler sauna, such as an infrared sauna set at a lower temperature, may not be harmful to a child, err on the side of caution and not expose children under the age of ten to sauna usage.