One of the challenges in the warmer months is being sure your baby stays cool in their stroller. Since babies don’t sweat as efficiently as adults, it’s very easy for them to overheat in warm weather.
Below, you’ll find several tips on how to keep baby cool in a stroller. These will let you enjoy a walk with your baby without worrying about them overheating.
How to Keep Baby Cool in a Stroller
#1: Invest in a Canopy for Shade and Sun Protection
Most strollers come with some type of canopy that keeps the sun off your baby’s head. Unless it’s an extendable canopy, however, it won’t provide enough coverage for your little one’s sensitive skin. It also won’t block any heat.
In addition to providing shade, canopies are important for stopping harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun. UVA and UVB rays contain radiation that may contribute to a higher risk of skin cancer later in life. You’ll want to choose a canopy that has been treated to block UVA and UVB rays.
Blocking the sun’s rays is especially important for young babies. Pediatricians generally don’t recommend putting sunscreen on babies under 6 months of age. Instead, opt for light, flowy clothing to cover their skin if you take them out of their stroller and a canopy to provide shade in the stroller.
Something that you should not do is use a blanket to give your little one shade. Even if a blanket is thin, most don’t allow enough air to flow through the stroller. Instead of cooling your little one off, it traps heat inside and raises the temperature. Blankets also don’t have the same UV-treatment as a stroller canopy.
#2: Avoid Walking in Extreme Heat
It can be tempting to take your baby on a walk to tire them out before their midday nap. However, you should avoid walking your baby on hotter days around peak heat times. Usually, the hottest time of day is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
On days that are 80 degrees or hotter, you may want to keep your little one indoors. Once the temperature reaches 80 degrees, the human body struggles to cool itself. This would be even harder for an infant.
#3: Dress Your Baby for the Weather
When dressing your baby for a walk, you’ll want to dress them similar to how you are. Avoid over-bundling babies on cooler days- dressing too warm in the cold is just as dangerous as sun exposure. You’ll want to choose light-colored fabrics that are flowy and not too tight. If there are any areas of your baby’s skin exposed in their stroller, you’ll want to be sure they are covered. For example, a pair of thin pants is better than letting the sun hit your baby’s legs if they stick out from under the canopy.
When dressing your baby, you should also avoid putting too many clothes on them. Your baby is at risk of overheating in the wintertime, too. The NIH reports that SIDS deaths increase in the winter because caregivers bundle infants to keep them warm. Babies sleep deeper when they are too warm, so they are less likely to wake up if they stop breathing.
#4: Invest in a Stroller Fan
Stroller fans are usually designed with a clip or other fastener that you connect to the inside of your baby’s stroller. They are usually battery-powered and blow cool air on your baby’s skin. Since your little one doesn’t sweat effectively, having cool air flow can significantly improve their ability to cool themselves down.
Since babies are constantly exploring the world around them, you’ll want to look for a baby-safe fan. It should have smooth edges so your little one doesn’t get hurt if they grab it and the batteries should be away from where your baby can access them. You can see some of our recommendations for best baby stroller fan here.
#5: Cooling Stroller Features
Air flow is important for preventing overheating and keeping your baby cool. When shopping for stroller, look for one with ventilation. This usually comes in the form of a detachable back panel that you can open. A mesh panel lets air flow better through the stroller.
The type and color of fabric may also affect how warm your baby gets in their stroller. Some fabrics are more porous than others, like 3D mesh fabrics or cool flow fabrics. These let air get into the fabric, so your child doesn’t get sweaty from their skin being pressed against it. Choosing a lighter colored stroller can also help. Black and dark colors like navy blue absorb heat from the sunlight, while lighter colors like gray and pink repel it.
#6: Keep Baby Hydrated
Your baby’s at greater risk of overheating when they are dehydrated. Experts recommend giving babies under one breastmilk or formula when it’s hot out. (Especially since giving babies under 1 water can cause problems like malnutrition and water intoxication).
For babies and toddlers over 1, you should offer water frequently through the walk. Even though they may not be thirsty, offer water to them anyway. Children usually do not get thirsty until after their bodies already need it. Being hydrated is important because gives your baby the fluids that he or she needs to produce sweat and cool down.
#7: Wipe Baby Down
When your body sweats, the air around you cools your skin down. You can help your baby cool down by wiping them with a wet cloth. The wetness from the rag works similar to sweat on the skin, since the air around your baby will cool them if it’s not too hot outside. The most important places to wipe are your baby’s head, neck, hands, and feet. It’ll cool them like a natural air conditioner.
If you are going to wet your baby down or lay a cool rag on them, watch them closely. You want to be sure the rag stays away from their face.
#8: Use a Cooling Stroller Seat Liner
If your baby’s stroller doesn’t have airy fabric, you can use a seat liner to create air flow. Some stroller liners are designed using breathable fabric. They may wick away moisture to stop your baby from getting too sweaty or developing heat rash. Others might have a gel material inside that pull heat away from the skin. You can refrigerate many of these before use for extra cooling at the beginning of your walk.
#9: Put Cooler Packs or Cool Water Bottles Under the Seat
For longer walks, something cold can keep your baby’s stroller cooled down. Cooler packs lie flat so they can be placed under the seat cushion. Water bottles work best when placed on either side of your baby. You should put them under a towel to stop the bottles from pressing directly against your baby’s skin.
If you are going to use either of these, be sure the cold isn’t pressed directly against your baby’s skin. Ice can cause freezer burn, even if it’s put on the skin when it’s hot outside. You should also watch your baby closely if you use water bottles. The cap on the bottle will be a choking hazard if your baby gets it off.
FAQs About Babies and Overheating
Why do babies get hot so easily?
Inside the womb, the mother’s body does all the work for keeping the baby at the right temperature. Their nervous system is still developing after they are born and babies can’t regulate their temperature well.
Babies also don’t sweat as much as adults, so they can’t naturally cool themselves down as easily. When you take your baby out in hot weather, they can also overheat from sun exposure since they have a smaller surface area of skin than a full grown adult.
What are some of the risks of overheating in babies?
In its earlier stages, overheating causes irritation like restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and heat rash. If your baby’s temperature rises too much, they become vulnerable to heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening rise in your baby’s body temperature and you should seek medical help immediately. A body temperature that is too high can cause irreversible damage to the brain and even death.
What are signs my baby is overheating?
The easiest way to check if your baby is overheating is to touch their neck and ears. Ears that are red and hot and a sweaty neck are some of the earliest signs that your baby is too hot. Babies also get reddened cheeks and may breathe more rapidly as they start to overheat.
When your baby becomes severely overheated, you may notice signs including lethargy or unresponsiveness, dizziness, confusion, or vomiting. Their skin may be dry to the touch and the fontanel (the soft spot on your baby’s head) might appear more sunken in than usual.
If your baby is unresponsive or you cannot get them to cool down, you should seek medical help immediately. Extreme irritability and inconsolable crying may also indicate a need to get medical help. If you are unsure if your baby needs to be seen, call their pediatrician.
You should also pay attention to how many wet diapers your baby has throughout the day, especially if you go outside frequently. Too few wet diapers is an early sign of dehydration. Your baby’s urine may also have a stronger odor if they are dehydrated.
How should I cool an overheating baby?
Responding quickly is important when your baby is overheating. Since your baby’s body can’t cool itself down, you’ll need to help them. Start by getting your baby out of the sun and to a cool area. Seek shade if you are outdoors. Then, wipe your baby down with a cool cloth. You could also sit them in shallow water. Do not submerge your baby in cool water when you suspect they are overheating. A cool rag will let your baby cool down gradually, while a cool bath could send your baby into shock if they are already too hot. If your baby is shivering as you cool them down, the water is too cold.
What should I do after my baby’s been outside?
One of the best things you can do before going on a walk is being sure your baby has a cool environment to come back to. Keeping the house cool also makes it more likely that your baby will relax (and take a nap) when you come back inside. For younger babies, you should also offer breastmilk or formula once you get home. Older babies should be offered more water. Don’t be worried if your baby falls asleep soon after coming inside- being out in the sun can wear a baby out.
Keeping your baby cool in their stroller prevents crankiness, overheating, and reduces the risk of heatstroke. If you are going to take a young baby out, avoid peak heat times and try to keep your little one in the shade. You can use any combination of the strategies above to keep baby cool in a stroller and beat the heat.