The blaze razed through a neonatal care unit of the state run Kamala Nehru Children’s Hospital in Bhopal city late on Monday night.
“Four children died in the fire that broke out in the special newborn care unit ward probably due to an electrical short circuit,’’ regional minister Vishvas Kailash Sarang told reporters.
Sarang said that there were 40 infants in the third-floor ward, 36 of which were safe as firefighters had shifted them to an adjacent ward during rescue operations.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a high-level probe into the incident, Sarang added.
Footage on news channels showed angry parents protesting at the premises, alleging that instead of saving the children, the hospital staff had fled.
The fire services took over three hours to douse the blaze which started around 9pm local time.
Chief Minister Chouhan expressed his condolences over the deaths and announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees (5,400 dollars) for the family of the victims.
Deaths of fires incidents, including in hospitals, were common in India and were often due to poor safety measures.
Earlier on Saturday, 11 patients died after a fire broke out in the Coronavirus care unit of a hospital in neighbouring Maharashtra state.