Summer safety: Here is why you should NEVER drape a blanket over your child's stroller
It's going to get pretty hot in Ireland soon.
And in an attempt to keep the sun's rays away from babies' delicate skin and also, maybe, to block the light out in an attempt to encourage sleep, parents are making one little mistake that can actually turn fatal very quickly.
Armed with sunscreen, families are out enjoying the weather, and while you can cover toddlers and kids in sunscreen, what about babies? Just sitting there in their buggies or napping on the go? Many opt for covering the baby’s buggy (or car seat) loosely with a blanket to protect him or her from the sun.
Whenever the sun's out, it's not uncommon to spot buggies with blankets draped over them – not only blocking sunshine and light from reaching the baby inside, which was no doubt then parents' intention, but also, so dangerously, trapping all the heat inside. A mistake that can, in a very short space of time, increase a baby's temperature drastically, and lead to dehydration, and, worst-case scenario, death.
(Image via Sol.no)
In fact, an experiment conducted by a Swedish newspaper found that if it's 22C outside when a buggy is covered with a blanket (no matter how thin!), the inside can reach a scorching 34C within about half an hour. Meaning, in just 30 little minutes, your could be risking your baby's life.
So instead of reducing the pram's temperature, which is what parents are trying to do, you are actually creating a "furnace-like heat" inside.
Dr Svante Norgren, a paediatrician at a children's hospital in Stockholm, Sweden told Svenska Dagbladet: "It gets extremely hot down in the pram or inside a covered car seat, something like a thermos. There is also bad circulation of the air and it is hard to see the baby with a cover over the pram."
The problem? A baby who is getting too hot will become lethargic and limp, often not even able to cry, leading parents to believe they are just having a lovely, long nap, when in fact they could be in serious danger of overheating.
And if you think you are OK to use those seemingly "perforated" hospital blankets, or a muslin cloth, think again. Speaking to Norwegian website KK.no, paediatric nurse Nina Misvær explains:
"These types of blankets, often used in hospitals, are made to keep babies warm. Meaning, those tiny holes aren't there to let air through, but rather act like little air-pockets that will keep the temperature steady and keep your baby warm."
Her advice? Never, ever cover your child's buggy or stroller with anything. If you are looking for shade from light and sun, buy a canopy or sun umbrella that attaches to it, or stay in the shade at all times.
Let other parents know
If you see someone walking around (or sitting somewhere) on a hot day, and you notice that they have a blanket covering a buggy or car seat, make contact with them and – in the nicest way possible – ask if they are aware that this can be harmful. And be kind – most parents would never intentionally try to harm their babies, and might just think they are doing the right thing by shading their baby from the sun and light.
Suggest they check on their baby just to make sure – again, you don't want to come across judgemental, not everyone is aware just how dangerous this is, especially brand new parents.
What can you do if you suspect your baby has a heat stroke?
If you suspect your baby has heatstroke, first, call 999. Then you need to bring his or her internal temperature down as soon as possible. To do so, undress him and lay him down in a cool area, ideally an air-conditioned room, but at the very least, find some shade. Then you can try sponging down your baby with a cloth dipped in cool water. Use anything nearby to fan your baby down.
If your baby is starting to show signs of heat exhaustion but it has not yet progressed to heatstroke, you can give him liquids. Give him plenty of breast milk or formula, or water if he’s old enough. You can even try a cool bath. But if he doesn’t improve, take your baby to the hospital.