How many of you, mums and dads, reading this have covered your baby’s stroller (with him in it) with a muslin cloth/ blanket in order to protect him from the tropical heat?
Of course, you do this because you know just how harmful the direct rays of the sun can be to your little one’s health.
But new research is suggesting that by covering your baby’s stroller in this manner, you might actually be putting him at grave risk.
Heat like that from a furnace
Swedish research has revealed that covering a stroller – even with a thin muslin cloth – can create a furnace-like heat inside the stroller while reducing the air circulation.
And in our tropical heat, such covered strollers can get really hot inside.
“It gets extremely hot down in the pram, 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,” Svante Norgren, a paediatrician at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s hospital in Stockholm, reportedly said in an interview with a Swedish newspaper, the Svenska Dagbladet, according to Kidspot.
He also said, “It would quickly become uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for the child [if the stroller were covered] … if a child gets too hot then the child may think that it is back in the womb, which is why breathing may stop.”
Young kids’ body temperature can rise three-to-five times faster than that of an adult, which makes them very vulnerable to heatstroke and other serious health risks like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Following Dr Norgen’s statement, the Svenska Dagbladet decided to see for themselves just how hot the inside of a covered stroller could get.
A stroller was left outside in the sun on a warm Swedish day, between 11.30am and 1pm. The temperature inside the stroller reached just 22ºC without a cover.
Next, the stroller was draped with a thin cover for 30 minutes. The temperature at this point reached 34ºC, and after an hour, 37ºC.
Keep in mind that the maximum heat experienced on a Swedish summer day is not more than 30ºC. As we know, in Singapore, temperatures can climb much higher.
What’s the alternative?
According to health experts, “An enclosed pram can get very hot; try to ensure that the air circulates around your baby by removing the back panel (if possible) or placing them in more open strollers.”
You could also try using a cover made out of mesh material, which will help the air circulate better. Also, check your little one’s temperature often, manually. If he is sweating excessively or feels really hot, then it’s time to seek some shade.
Principal nursing advisor to Western Australia Child and Adolescent Community Health Isabel Redfern’s advice is to stay out of the heat all together on a very hot day.
“Mums and dads are still walking with covered prams in the middle of the day,” she says. “They think that once they put the baby in the pram and put the cover over, the baby is being protected, but they are actually heating it up.
“It can get very, very warm. The parents think the baby is fine because it is sleeping a lot but that can actually be more of a concern because you have overheated them. This can happen on any day where the sun has got a bit of a bite in it.”
Here’s how extremely hot weather can affect your baby
- Babies and kids sweat less, meaning their bodies’ ability to cool down is also less.
- Their bodies cannot adjust to changes in temperature as well adults.
- Little ones are more vulnerable to developing a heat-related illness due to overheating.
- If they are already sick, heat can make the illness worse.
Remember: serious brain or kidney damage can occur at 40ºC — fatalities can also occur at this body temperature.
Keep these tips from NSW Health in mind:
- Breastfeed or bottle-feed your little one more often in hot weather.
- Older babies (over six months) and children can be offered other forms of hydration, keeping in mind that water is the best option.
- Dress your little one in cool, cotton clothing and use hats and kid-friendly sunscreen if going out in the sun.
- Do NOT, for even a moment, leave your child in the car. The temperature inside a parked car can be 30-40°C hotter than outside the car. Most of the temperature increase occurs within five minutes of closing the car and having the windows down 5 cm causes only a very slight decrease in temperature.
We hope you found this article useful. How do you protect your baby from the sun? Share your tips with us in a comment below.