For more information on children and heat also check here: healthychildren.org
Picture this scenario: It’s a hot, sunny summer day. You are taking a nice, relaxing stroll outside with your baby in a stroller. The sun feels hot on your skin so you correctly deduce (she doesn’t yet speak, so she can’t tell you) that your infant is feeling the heat as well. You decide to cover the stroller with a blanket to produce instant shade (which will also protect her from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays) but in the process, says Wendy Wisner, create a new and dangerous problem:
You see, by placing a blanket – even a light one, like a muslin cloth – over the stroller, you are actually locking heat in, rather than keeping it out. And it turns out that the temperature that the inside of your baby’s stroller could rise to is potentially very dangerous – even deadly.
Infants and young children are more vulnerable to the effects of heat than older kids and adults. Their immature body systems don’t regulate their internal temperature particularly well and they may not be able to communicate how they are feeling. As a result, infants and young children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Since infants haven’t yet developed the ability to sweat and effectively regulate their body temperature, parents need to be on the lookout for subtler signs like excess sleepiness, malaise, irritability, and excessive thirst. Looking pale while feeling hot, rapid breathing, vomiting, and not producing urine for several hours are very concerning signs suggesting excessive exposure to heat.
There are a number of precautions parents can take on those hot summer days to protect the stroller’s precious cargo:
— Use a different sun shield: Instead of a blanket, use a large canopy or mesh sun shield designed for strollers. This will produce shade while ensuring adequate airflow.
— Dress lightly: One layer of loose-fitting, light-colored, and lightweight clothing should do.
— Stay hydrated: Infants should feed from the breast or bottle more frequently; toddlers should be offered water frequently. On hot days, don’t wait for children to ask for something to drink.
— Avoid peak heat hours: The hottest daylight hours in temperate climates are typically between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Stay in the shade during those hours and try to avoid being outdoors altogether on especially hot days or during heat waves. Instead, find a cool space indoors and camp out there.
— Check on your baby often: Make sure they are being adequately shaded, kept cool, and acting happy in their stroller.
Car seat carriers also present similar heat risks as strollers, so be sure that remains a cool spot on a hot day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more tips to protect children from extreme heat here.