Covering a baby’s stroller with a blanket on a sunny day is something a lot of parents do, right? It’s just one of the ways to keep that harsh sunlight off your baby. Well, you might want to think again. This might actually be a pretty dangerous mistake.
I recently saw it happen, right in front of me, on a sunny day at the beach. So, there’s the mom, and she’s got her baby in a stroller. The sun is out, the day is hot, and she does what any caring parent might do. She takes a blanket and covers her baby’s stroller, probably thinking it’s the best way to shield her little one from the sun. Then she heads off to dip her toes in the water and enjoy a bit of relaxation.
But here’s the problem: that covered stroller, sitting in the sun? It could turn into an oven before she even makes it back from the water. And that’s the last thing any parent wants.
I decided to approach the mom that day, and to gently and respectfully explain the situation and the risks. And you know what? She was surprised. She had no idea. But she thanked me and I could tell she was glad to know.
So, if this sounds familiar, if you have been using a blanket to cover your baby’s stroller on those hot, sunny days, please don’t. This simple change can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your baby safe.
I’ve seen it many times, and as a child sleep consultant, I know that it’s a mistake many parents make. Let me tell you why.
Blankets, especially those made of non-breathable materials such as synthetic fabrics, can create an insulating layer over the stroller. Instead of blocking the sun, it traps heat inside, quickly turning the stroller into a mini greenhouse. The temperature within the stroller can rise exponentially, leading to an increased risk of overheating and even heat stroke in infants. Babies have a limited ability to regulate their body temperature, and their smaller body size makes them more susceptible to heat than adults. The risk is higher in newborns, whose sweat glands are not fully developed yet, impairing their ability to cool down through sweating.
Limited Air Circulation
A blanket over a stroller can significantly limit air circulation, further exacerbating the overheating risk. Limited air circulation combined with a trapped heat environment can lead to a stifling and uncomfortable situation for your little one. Furthermore, the decreased oxygen flow could potentially contribute to respiratory distress in your baby.
Enhanced UV Radiation
Counterintuitively, certain types of blankets could actually enhance harmful UV radiation rather than blocking it. Light-colored fabrics and those with a loose weave can let through UV rays, which can reflect off the stroller’s interior surfaces and concentrate on your baby, increasing their exposure.
What to do instead? Choose Safer Alternatives
Considering the risks associated with covering a stroller with a blanket, it is essential to find safer alternatives.
1. Choose a stroller with a large, built-in, adjustable sunshade that meets safety standards. This feature will help you protect your baby from direct sunlight while maintaining proper ventilation.
2. Consider using UV-protective stroller covers specifically designed for this purpose. These covers are breathable and block harmful UV rays without trapping heat.
3. Always remember to keep your baby hydrated and check on them regularly to ensure they are comfortable and not showing any signs of overheating.
4. And finally, timing your outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon, can also be a useful strategy to avoid the harsh effects of the sun.
1. ‘Stroller safety: Tips for parents.’ (2021). Mayo Clinic. Link: https://www.augustahealth.com/article/stroller-safety-tips-for-parents/
2. Pickett, A., & Rando, G. (2016). ‘Simple Safety Steps to Prevent Heatstroke in Children.’ American Academy of Pediatrics. This report by the American Academy of Pediatrics discusses the risk of heatstroke in children and suggests safety steps, including not covering strollers with blankets.
3. Williams, S., Greene, S., Hansen, C., Muñoz, C., Johnson, K., Smit, E., Holman, M., & Shoemaker, M. (2013). ‘Risks of excess heat to child passengers when caregivers thoughtlessly leave children unattended inside vehicles: a simulation study.’ Temperature. 2(4), 491–499. This study, although centered on the risk of heat exposure in cars, provides a good basis for understanding the potential dangers of enclosing a child in a non-ventilated space like a covered stroller.
4. ‘Dangerous mistake some parents make with prams during hot weather – even though they think it’s best’ (2018) Mirror. Link: https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/family/prams-hot-weather-babies-summer-8444090