When temperatures soar in the summer months, many parents look for ways to keep their babies cool and protect them from the sun.
So do you cover your child’s pram with a blanket to protect them?
Experts advise parents to keep young babies out of direct sunlight, to protect their skin from the sun’s harsh rays.
Before the age of six months, babies have a limited amount of melanin, the natural pigment which provides protection from the sun’s rays.
Even babies older than six months should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible. This is especially true when the sun is at its hottest, between 11am and 3pm.
In an attempt to shade babies from the sun, some parents might be inadvertently putting them in danger.
During the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see a muslin cloth or blanket draped over the front of a pram to shade the baby inside. Could this technique be dangerous?
There is Risk When You Cover Your Child’s Pram
Experts now advise parents not to place blankets over the pram or buggy. Even fabric as light as muslin cloth can prevent air circulation and cause overheating.
On a warm day, with a temperature of 22 degrees, draping a blanket over the pram could cause the space inside to overheat to 34 degrees, in just one hour. A baby trapped in an overheated pram can quickly become dehydrated. If left untreated, dehydration could develop into heatstroke.
As well as causing overheating, the blanket poses another problem. It creates a barrier between the caregiver and the baby. If you can’t see your baby, you might not be able to respond quickly if your baby is in trouble. If your baby is covered by a blanket, you might not notice that he is overheating or struggling to breathe.
What To Do Instead
Shade is important for keeping your baby safe from the sun, but you need to provide shade without preventing air circulation.
You should opt for an umbrella or parasol, which sits above the pram and allows air to circulate while keeping your baby in the shade. You can usually buy one as an add-on to your travel system. It will keep your baby safe in warm weather.
If you live in a very warm climate, it is recommended that you remove the back panels of the buggy, where possible, to allow for proper air circulation and prevent temperatures inside from soaring.
For more information on heatstroke in children, we suggest you read UNICEF’s recommendations:
Summer Sanity – Keeping Babies Cool In Summer