Have you ever tried to block the sun from hitting your baby’s stroller by covering it with a blanket or cloth? I know I have. But as it turns out, by trying to keep our little ones in the shade, we may actually be doing them more harm than good.
According to researchers in Sweden, draping something over the top of a stroller—even the thinnest of blankets—can create a furnace-like heat inside, reducing the air circulation and putting kids at risk of heatstroke and even SIDS as their body temperatures reach dangerous levels.
“It gets extremely hot down in the pram, something like a thermos,” Svante Norgren, M.D., a pediatrician at Astrid Lindgren children’s hospital in Stockholm, told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. “There is also bad circulation of the air and it is hard to see the baby with a cover over the pram.”
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The paper decided to conduct it’s own experiment. Without a cover, the temperature inside a stroller left out in the heat was 72 degrees. But after being covered by a thin cloth, it reached 93 degrees within 30 minutes. After an hour, the temp shot up to almost 100.
So how can you effectively block the sun while keeping your baby safe?
Christian Nechyba, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician at Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, North Carolina, told ABC Eyewitness News that it all starts with choosing the right stroller—one that is light in color, for example.
“Avoid excess cushioning that might keep a lot of their skin from breathing normally,” Dr. Nechyba added.
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Other tips include selecting a model with a large canopy and removable back panel, adding a small fan that clips onto the stroller’s handle bars, and regularly checking your baby for heat exhaustion. Warning signs include extreme thirst, sweating, acting tired or weak, rapid, shallow breathing, and skin that is red or hot to the touch.
If you do suspect your baby is suffering from heat exhaustion, Dr. Nechyba says it’s time to head indoors. “Get them into an air-conditioned environment, and offer them fluids,” he explains. If symptoms persist, call your doctor.
Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.