Have you ever covered your child’s stroller with a blanket to block the sun?
While it might seem like a good idea to shade your baby from the sun, it turns out this strategy likely does more harm than good. According to pediatrician Svante Norgren, this practice could even be deadly.
Even a thin blanket can trap heat, creating conditions that put your child at risk of heatstroke.
“It gets extremely hot down in the pram (stroller), something like a thermos. There is also bad circulation of the air and it is hard to see the baby with a cover over the pram,” he told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
As part of the same piece, Svenska Dagbladet conducted their own experiment. First, the paper left an uncovered stroller out in the sun. Without any sort of covering, the temperature in the stroller reached 72 degrees.
They then covered the stroller with a thin cloth and continued to keep track of the temperature. Within 30 minutes, the temperature reached 90 degrees. After an hour, it had increased to 100 degrees.
To make matters worse, Dr. Christian Nechyba, who practices at Carolina Kids Pediatrics, told ABC News affiliate WTVD, “Babies do not dissipate heat or get rid of excess body heat as easy as older children because they don’t sweat as much.
So how can you safely shield your baby from the sun?
According to Nechyba, the first step is to make sure you’ve got the right stroller. Specifically, he recommended strollers that are light in color. Additionally, he told WTVD parents should “avoid excess cushioning that might keep a lot of [baby’s] skin from breathing normally.”
Other suggestions include choosing a stroller with a removable back panel and a large canopy to provide shade without impeding air circulation. Aside from stroller choice, Nechyba recommends purchasing a small, battery-powered fan with a clamp to attach to the stroller’s handlebars and checking your baby regularly for signs of heat exhaustion.
In order to keep baby safe, parents need to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
According to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, early signs of heat exhaustion include being unusually irritable, having drier-than-normal skin, refusing to drink, and having fewer wet diapers than usual.
If you suspect your child might be suffering from heat exhaustion, arrange to visit your general practitioner or pediatrician immediately. If you’re unable to get in on short notice, take your baby to the emergency room.
In the event that your child’s condition progresses beyond heat exhaustion to heatstroke, symptoms may include:
–A temperature at or above 103 degrees (but a lack of sweating)
–Hot, dry, red skin
–High pulse rate
–Quick, shallow breaths
If your baby is experiencing heatstroke, seek medical assistance immediately. While waiting for help, completely undress your baby and find a cool area to lay them down.
Use a washcloth or rag to sponge them down with cool water, then fan them.
Of course, choosing the right stroller, using proper care, and avoiding too much outside time can help parents keep their young children safe.