BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — While walking in the park earlier this week, I noticed many moms pushing strollers with nothing seemingly out of the ordinary. With this intense sun, it’s common to see strollers with a covering draped over their baby to protect them from the sun. However, this one thing could result in a child overheating and lead to heat exhaustion.
Here’s what you need to know. Air flow is the most important factor in keeping a baby or young child cooler during these hot summer days. Unless the covering used to protect the baby from the sun is a specialty, breathable fabric, it could be creating a small heater inside. For the same reasons it is not safe to leave a child in a car on a hot day, are the same reasons it is not safe to place blankets or other coverings over your child on a hot day.
Today, the air temperature was 91° when I prepared this demonstration. I placed the thermometer inside the stroller, where my child would normally sit, and loosely covered the stroller with a light colored blanket. Within only 2 minutes the temperature jumped from 91° to 93°. Within one hour the temperature spiked at 108° where my child would sit.
Heat exhaustion can happen quickly in children too because their bodies cannot regulate temperature as well as adults and they don’t sweat as much. Sweat is nature’s way of cooling us off. If your child starts getting pink cheeks, showing signs of dehydration, if their breathing slows, or they become lethargic, these could all be signs that your child’s body needs to cool down.
Now, this is not to suggest you cannot enjoy the great outdoors for the rest of the summer, simply considering these few guidelines to protect your little one on these hot days.
1. Keep your babies hydrated. This includes, before and during any outside activities.
2. Dress your children in loose fitting clothes. This allows air to flow and also allows the heat to wick away from the child’s skin more efficiently
3. Try to avoid peak heating of the day. That is generally 1pm-4pm.
4. When outdoors, keep moving. As a stroller sits, it is also baking in the sun. When you walk, the stroller is not only moving from sun to shade, but there is air flow being generated to help keep your child cool.
5. Avoid covering your stroller with blankets. Stick to breathable coverings specifically made for outdoor use and can promote airflow.