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.
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
Rather than covering the pram, keep baby cool by avoiding going out in the middle of the day, which tends to be the hottest time or time with the highest UV rays.
If you have no option, shade your baby in the pram or stroller with an umbrella, sit under a tree, or stay in shaded areas to protect your baby from the sun while ensuring good airflow.
For more tips on keeping your little ones safe: