The dangers of covering your pram

Many parents don’t realise that in their well-meaning attempts to keep the sun or rain off their babies, they can significantly increase the risk of overheating and suffocation.


It is essential to keep the sun off your little one, but covering the pram with a wrap, blanket, or plastic cover is not the safest way to do it. Covering a pram or pusher can reduce airflow and dramatically increase the temperature.

  • Research has shown that placing blankets, plastic covers, canopies and even lightweight muslin over the pram increases the temperature within.
  • As tiny humans, babies are far more sensitive to temperature changes than adults. Their little bodies do not sweat as much, so they haven’t got the inbuilt ability to cool down as efficiently. In fact, an infant’s temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult’s due to their size.
  • Covering the pram reduces air circulation, even with ‘breathable’ material, enabling heat to rise quickly. Think of a parked vehicle and how hot it can get sitting in the sun, even in winter.
  • Covering the pram may also reduce your ability to see your baby and observe them for signs of heat stress.

While prams have mandatory safety standards, accessories such as covers do not. This means that these types of products don’t need to undergo rigorous testing like cots do to sell themselves as a solution for sun or rain protection.

A recent study by James Smallcombe from Sydney University published in the journal Ergonomics found that covering a pram on a hot day in Australia can raise the temperature inside a pram by almost four degrees celsius. The study also found that using a moist muslin cloth and a battery-operated fan dropped the heat in a pram by five degrees in hot weather.

Red Nose suggests that it is essential to keep the sun off your little one, but covering the pram with a dry blanket or wrap is not necessarily safe, so using a damp muslin cloth is a safer option, or you can consider an umbrella or other ways to keep the sun off your child.

If parents use a damp muslin wrap to cover the pram, Red Nose recommends that they check the wrap every 20 minutes and re-wet it, as needed, to prevent it from drying out.

To mitigate the risk of overheating, consider scheduling outings earlier or later in the day when temperatures and UV exposure are lower. Keep to shaded areas, use umbrellas, or position the pram under a tree to keep your baby out of direct sunlight. Additionally, ensure good airflow and offer your baby a refreshing drink to help cool them down.

The ACCC strongly advises parents not to place blankets or adapt other items as covers over a pram to shield babies from the sun.

When out and about with your little one in a pram, regularly look at your bundle of joy.

Assess them for signs of heat stress such as:

  • Listlessness or irritability
  • Skin may be pale and clammy initially, becoming hot and flushed
  • Increased sweating in early stages; decreased sweating as heat stress progresses toward heatstroke

If you suspect your baby is showing signs of dehydration, please seek medical attention. For further guidance on the prevention or management of dehydration contact Health Direct on 1800 022 222 (24 hr health support line) or click here for more information.

For more tips on keeping your little ones safe:

Keeping baby safer this summer | Red Nose Australia

Baby & Young Children Safety Environment | Red Nose Australia

Keeping Children Safe This Summer | Red Nose Australia

Ask a question ‹ Questions & Answers | Red Nose Australia​

Last modified: 14/3/24