What you need to know about the dangers of covering your stroller with a blanket on a sunny day
You did all the research on the kind of stroller to buy. It collapses. It swivels. It can withstand gale-force winds. But if you’re covering your child up with a blanket to protect them from the sun on a hot day, none of the bells and whistles on that stroller matter — because this dangerous practice may threaten your baby’s safety.
It stands to reason that throwing a thin blanket over the stroller will help protect your baby from harmful rays and a thin blanket should be breathable enough — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, that blanket, no matter how thin, traps a large amount of heat inside the stroller.
British YouTubers JK and Charlie actually did an experiment to see how fast the temperature inside a stroller would rise with a blanket covering. Using a toy baby, the couple placed a stroller in direct sunlight for seven minutes. After the time was up, the thermostat inside the stroller read 85.82 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, they did the same experiment, but with a blanket over the stroller. After seven minutes, the temperature inside the stroller rose 10 degrees, topping out at 95.18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here’s the video from these savvy YouTubers at Channel Mum:
However, the results of the video didn’t come as a surprise to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle pediatrician who writes the Seattle Mama Doc blog. She urged families not to panic.
“Let’s not be crazy about this,” Swanson told TODAY in an interview. “For a hundred years, parents have been draping blankets carefully and safely over their baby strollers to protect them from the sun, and we still want them to do that. But we can be thoughtful about it and this is a good reminder.”
A pediatrician working with the ABC News Medical Unit agreed with Swanson but also gave a word of caution.
Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez said that while she has never personally encountered a baby injured as a result of using a blanket to cover the stroller, the fast rise in temperature can definitely happen and could potentially result in heatstroke. She likened the effect to that of a greenhouse, when air flow slows down and heat gets trapped within.
“Most parents out there are using common sense and frequently checking on their babies,” Bracho-Sanchez said in an interview with Good Morning America. “This is nevertheless a good reminder and an opportunity to talk about something that is easy to prevent.”
Sun protection for your child can and should include a stroller with an attached sunshade, a visor or hat, sunscreen, a small fan and a cold drink. These are all safer bets than the blanket, but Bracho-Sanchez says the key is prevention.
“Try not to be out in the heat if you can help it and, if you are out, try to be in the shade,” Bracho-Sanchez told GMA. “If you need to be outside, you should also check on the baby every few minutes, specifically looking for flushed cheeks, sweating, changes in breathing patterns. If a baby is starting to flush, sweat profusely, or have changes in his or her breathing pattern, move into air conditioning and give fluids as soon as you can.”
This advice can definitely keep you and your baby happy while you enjoy the warm summer weather!