Every summer there are well-publicised campaigns about the dangers of allowing babies and children to overheat in cars or buggies during the summer months. Overheating in this way has even been implicated as a contributory factor SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
This article aims to provide you with clear information to make an informed decision to ensure your baby stays safe this summer.
Firstly, is it safe for my baby to go out in the sun?
Whilst babies are under six months old, they are advised to be kept out of strong direct sunlight. This is because babies’ skin is much thinner than children or adults, so UV rays can cause sun damage in a very short space of time. Furthermore, babies are also more susceptible to heat, thus increasing temperatures can make them seriously unwell.
The two main concerns are:
In fact, sunburn at a young age has been demonstrably linked to a higher rate of skin cancer – a US study found that severe burns at a young age increased chances of melanoma (a form of skin cancer) by 80%.
If possible, avoid going out during the hottest hours which are from 10am to 3pm.
This is because the UV levels and temperatures are highest during this time.
Choose a breathable and UV protecting buggy cover
When travelling with the baby in a pram, ensure you have an adequate and safe cover, to protect your baby from the harmful UV rays whilst allowing:
Easy accessibility to facilitate regular checks on your child and,
Sufficient air circulation within the pram which will help regulate the temperature for your child.
The Lullaby Trust
The Lullaby Trust has warned that covering your pram or buggy with blankets (or cloths and covers) can lead to heat being trapped within the buggy and could cause your baby to dangerously overheat.
Additionally, the Lullaby Trust recommend attaching a clip-on sunshade or parasol to a pram or buggy and checking if baby is getting too hot by feeling their tummy or the back of their neck. They advise to keep babies out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Can I use a parasol?
Parasols will not block air circulation, however they only shade a small area. The area they shade will shift as the sun moves or as you travel. This means your baby might suddenly be sitting in direct sunlight without you noticing. Also, not all parasols are UV resistant.
If you decide to use a parasol, ensure you choose a UV resistant version. Ensure you consistently check that your baby remains shaded by the parasol.
Can I use a muslin cloth?
Many parents choose to clip a muslin nappy across the buggy to shade their little one from the sun. This is not a bad solution, but muslin is not UV resistant so it cannot protect your baby from the sun’s most harmful rays.
What’s the safest option?
A good option is to use a buggy cover made of UV resistant but fully breathable material, that covers the whole opening of the buggy, but allows the air to circulate. The best of these have zips to enable the parents to quickly and easily check on their babies to ensure they are not getting too hot.
Parking your buggy:
Remember that the sun will move and so if you have parked your buggy in the shade, you need to continually check that your baby remains out of direct sunlight.
It is important to regularly check on your baby to ensure they are not getting too hot. As babies are so sensitive to temperature, remember that even on overcast or lower temperature days, your baby could still overheat.
You should regularly:
- Check if your baby is sweating.
- Feel their tummy – it should be warm but not hot.
- Check for flushed or red cheeks.
You could carry a thermometer with you. A specific baby digital thermometer can be purchased and should be used in the baby’s armpit or ear. A healthy temperature hovers around 36.4 degrees centigrade.
With this advice in mind, enjoy introducing your baby to summertime.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
We cover heat exhaustion, breathing problems, seizures, choking, bleeding, burns, CPR, Recovery position and much more on all our courses. Please get in touch to ensure you have the skills to immediately help your child in a medical emergency.
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First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.