Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Children's Health

My 3 year old is always cold.



My 3 year old son always claims to be cold and he continues to sleep with more than 3 blankets on him. My husband and I truly think this could be a ploy to get out of doing something he`s not interested in doing such as taking a nap, going to bed or eating. But is it possible that there`s something wrong with his body temperature?


Actually it is possible that there is something wrong, although there is a genetic variation that causes some people to be more sensitive to cold than others. If you have other family members who frequently complain of being cold when everyone else is comfortable or even feeling warm, this may well be the case.

Four conditions in children that may result in complaints of feeling cold are iron deficiency anemia, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, and Addison's disease. Toddlers and preschoolers are more likely to have iron deficiency anemia than any of the other three options because of being picky eaters, who typically avoid iron rich foods. This is easily tested for by obtaining a hemoglobin measurement at his doctor's office. An iron supplement will restore him to normal iron balance in 2 weeks.

Having a low level of thyroid hormone also causes coldness because of a significant slowing in the body's metabolism. This can be a problem children are born with or one that occurs later in life through a lack of iodine in the diet or an autoimmune destructive process called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. A blood test will show if this is the problem. Addison's disease occurs in children and adults and reflects a progressive inability of the body's adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids, a specific type of hormone.

I recommend that you discuss your concerns with your son's doctor, especially if he tires easily, seems pale, or lacking in energy compared to other boys his age. Small children typically do not make up physical complaints to get out of doing things. That's much more the strategy of a school age child or adolescent. So, do discuss it with your child's doctor. Before you go, when your son is asleep, take a peek at his hands and feet and see if they are pink, pale, or blue. Also check their warmth. This will help his doctor decide on the type of testing that needs to occur, if any.

I hope this helps!

For more information:

Go to the Children's Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University