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How to Keep Your Baby Cool in the Stroller

Warm weather months are a great time for family outdoor activities. Strollers make trips away from home with a baby much easier. While comfortably secured inside, infants can enjoy excursions around town, at theme parks, and on vacations. On hot sunny days, however, it is important to remember that infants can become overheated or dehydrated. Fortunately, there are ways to keep baby cool during stroller rides. Here are some tips to keep your little one safe and healthy as the temperature rises.

What are the risks of going out in hot weather?

Infants are not “little adults.” Their body size and composition differs from that of children and adults, and they can quickly become overheated or dehydrated. Such initial symptoms can progress to heatstroke if cooling measures are not implemented. Heatstroke is defined as a body temperature that remains above 104 degrees F in response hot weather or other hot environments (i.e. cars). In general, infants are unable to produce enough sweat to lower their core body temperatures. Without intervention, the excessive body heat directly injures organs and blood vessels, and can result in death. It is, therefore, important to prevent heatstroke from ever occurring.

Tips for Keeping Your Baby Cool in the Stroller

1. Stay out of the sun

Shade is your baby’s friend. Although short periods in the sun are recommended for children to promote vitamin D production, limited sun exposure is best for babies. Their outer layer of skin is much thinner, and, therefore, more sensitive to harmful UVB and UAV sun rays. The American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommends that infants under six months old avoid direct sun exposure. In addition to the use of sunscreens and UPF clothing, a stroller canopy can provide protection from these harmful sun rays.

2. Avoid extreme heat

Over the past few years, hotter than normal temperatures have been reported in many regions of the world. 90 to 100 degree F heat combined with direct sun rays and reduced fluid intake can be disastrous for infants. Using a stroller canopy can help, but it may be best to avoid outdoor excursions on very hot days.

In addition, the hottest hours of the day are between 10 am to 4 pm. Unless it is unavoidable, limit outdoor time with your baby during these hours.

3. Keep baby hydrated

The best way to prevent dehydration in hot weather is to keep your baby hydrated by frequently offering plenty of fluids. This helps to maintain a normal blood volume while replacing any fluids lost from sweating. Pay attention to how many wet diapers your baby has had. Signs of dehydration include fewer than four wet diapers in 24 hours, a dry mouth, and irritability. Parents may notice a lack of drooling in a dehydrated baby who has been teething. In severe cases of dehydration, the anterior fontanelle (soft spot) may look sunken, or the baby may appear lethargic.

To prevent dehydration, moms should continue on-demand breastfeeding while making sure they too are hydrating well. Formula-fed infants should be offered their usual formula feedings. Infants over six months old can also be given cool sips of water. Parents should not offer more than eight ounces per day to ensure that the baby continues to breast or formula feed well.

3. Vent the baby’s stroller (remove detachable back panel)

Increasing the airflow in and around a stroller can help keep your baby cool. Some stroller models have a removable back panel which can improve air circulation. This additional feature can provide some “natural air conditioning,” preventing your infant from becoming overheated.

4. Use suitable clothing and blanket

Babies should be appropriately dressed for outdoor weather conditions. Breathable fabrics such as cotton or bamboo are preferable to synthetic materials. Dark colors absorb more heat, so stick to pastels, beige, and white. Although a blanket may be used along with the stroller canopy to provide additional shade, parents should avoid placing it directly on the baby. Doing so will increase fluid losses from sweating, and the likelihood of the baby becoming too hot.

5. Place cooler packs under the seat

If your stroller has a removable seat liner, it may be possible to place chilled cooler packs beneath it. This can help keep your baby cool and comfortable while in the stroller. However, cold packs should never be placed in direct contact with an infant’s skin which could cause cold burns. Placing them under the stroller seat liner will ensure your baby stays cool without risking burns.

Cooling Accessories for Strollers

1. Extra canopy

If your stroller is large enough, it may be a good idea to attach a second canopy. This will provide additional shade without the extra heat of a blanket. If not, a stroller umbrella is an alternative.

2. Stroller liner

Stroller liners are intended to reduce sweating. They are placed between your baby and the inner surface of the stroller. Most are made of a breathable fabric, and have a mesh surface to improve airflow. Some also include a cushioned inner layer for extra comfort.

3. Stroller fan

These devices are similar to adult handheld fans, but have a base that attaches to the stroller’s handlebar. The fan blows toward the infant to increase air circulation. However, a stroller fan should be mounted out of the reach of infant fingers to avoid injuries. Also, they can cause dryness of the nose and mouth when aimed directly at the baby. Keep in mind that, once the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees F, fans are no longer effective ways to cool your infant.

Other Dos and Don’ts for Going Out on a Hot Summer day

Although a stroller canopy will reduce the amount of direct sunlight on your baby’s skin, some exposure is still possible. The sun’s rays reflect off of sand, water, and light-colored pavement. Parents should dress their baby in sun protective clothing and a hat. Sunscreen is recommended for use on any exposed skin under age six months, but should be applied more liberally for older infants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do babies get hot so easily?

Babies are at risk of becoming overheated because their high body surface area easily absorbs environmental heat. Their small blood vessels are also insufficient for expelling core body heat through the skin. In addition, an infant’s ability to produce sweat in order to cool the body is limited. When they do sweat, babies suffer from more significant water losses which can lead to dehydration.

When can a newborn go outside in the summer?

Newborns can enjoy time outdoors with their families, but should avoid the peak sun hours of 10 am to 4 pm. They should not be placed in direct sunlight, especially before age six months. A stroller canopy can provide shade, and protect the baby’s skin.

What temperature is safe to take my baby outside in the summer?

An exact safe outdoor temperature for infants has not been specified by health authorities. However, research shows that infants are at an increased risk of SIDS when the temperature rises above 84 degrees F. Humidity levels also affect how infants respond to heat which is included in the National Weather Service’s heat index report. A heat index above 90 degrees F is felt to pose health risks. It is, therefore, safer to limit an infant’s time outdoors when the heat index is high.

What are some signs my baby is overheating or dehydrated?

Overheated, dehydrated infants become less playful, very irritable or drowsy, and possibly lethargic. While crying, there will be little to no tears. The skin can look flushed, especially on the cheeks, hands, and feet. Sometimes, a “heat rash” develops. Teething infants may stop drooling. Diapers become less wet or remain dry for extended periods of time..

How should I cool down an overheating baby?

If your baby is less responsive or seems limp when held, call 911. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention in order to save the baby’s life.

In less severe situations, the infant should be moved to an air-conditioned location while additional cooling measures are initiated. Applying wet towels or giving a lukewarm bath can help reduce the baby’s body temperature. Offering breast milk, formula, and cool water, when age-appropriate, all help to improve hydration.

What about a car seat? How do I keep my baby cool in their car seat?

Stroller systems often include attachments for infant car seats. Although car seats are designed for vehicle safety, their fabrics may not be the most breathable. If the instructions indicate that it is safe, adding a mesh liner may prevent your baby from becoming overheated. If your car seat has a large canopy or canopy extender, this extra shade can help keep your baby cool.

Final Words

Taking an infant for a stroll in summer weather can be enjoyable if heat precautions are taken. Stroller canopies or umbrellas can protect your infant from harsh UV rays. On hotter days, it is best to venture out before 10 am or after 4 pm when the heat and sun rays are less intense. Be sure to feed your baby on schedule, and regularly check for signs of becoming overheated.

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