In the blazing summer heat with the sun streaming down on us, countless parents and caregivers make the mistake of draping a blanket over the stroller to give babies shade and protect them from the sun. It turns, while we think we are protecting our little ones, we may be putting them at risk for heatstroke and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Based on an interview with Stockholm pediatrician Dr. Svante Norgren about the dangers of covering a stroller, the Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, conducted an experiment by putting a stroller out in the sun, midday, in the summer. Without a cover, the stroller was about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. After covering the stroller with a thin cover for 30 minutes, the temperature rose to 93 degrees and after an hour, 100 degrees!
Babies sweat less, and therefore, are unable to adjust their body temperature as easily, compared to adults and older children. Their body temperatures can rise 3-5 times faster than ours. According to SIDS Australia, “Thermal stress (overheating) has been implicated in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for many years and avoiding overheating has been one of the strategies to reduce the risk of SIDS.”
So how can you keep your infants cool and safe? Trying to avoid going outdoors during the peak heat of the day (between 10am and 3pm) can be helpful. If you must head outdoors, use a UV cover that doesn’t enclose the stroller, like a parasol. Look for strollers with large sun canopies, no excess cushioning, and a ventilated or removable back panel. Air circulation is critical to keep them cool. Wide-brimmed hats are also a good way to protect them from the sun. Dress your children lightly, use plenty of high SPF sunscreen, and keep them well-hydrated. A damp chilled cloth can also be used to keep them comfortable. If kept out of reach, a small clip-on fan can be attached to their stroller for added circulation.
When in their stroller, check your baby to ensure they are not overheated, and ensure they are not sweat or hot to the touch. One major sign of overheating is sleeping a lot. Always head indoors if the sun and heat get too strong.