3 babies. 3 babies on one 90+ degree day here in North Carolina. That's what prompted me to tackle this topic.
3 babies from 3 different families whose loving parents wanted to protect them from the blazing hot summer sun while strolling 3 different neighborhood streets on a late afternoon walk. 3 babies whose strollers/car seat carriers were draped with a blanket.
We all want what's best for our babies and that's why I have to assume that these babies' parents had no idea how dangerous this can be...and how counterproductive it is to their efforts to keep their babies cool.
The heat of a hot day plus the heat a baby naturally emits creates a little furnace even underneath even the thinnest of blankets. Without air circulating, parents unknowingly create a little oven for their little ones. Even worse, they've hidden their babies from view - unable to see signs of overheating such as a red face or rapid breathing.
if you wouldn't do it to a dog...
It's not uncommon to hear outrage that someone left their dog in a parked car on a hot day with the windows up (much deserved outrage, I might add). But we don't hear much about covering baby under a blanket on a hot day without fresh air. The principles are the same.
We seem to have a bit of a problem recognizing that a blanket over the car seat or stroller is dangerous and not very kind to do something similar to our babies. We have the best of intentions, but need knowledge to make a wiser choice.
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Extend Your Sunshade
To extend your car seat or stroller's sunshade while still allowing baby fresh air, use a very thin muslin swaddle blanket (Aden + Anais are my favorites) with knots tied on each corner to weigh them down like anchors. Drape it over your sunshade by a few inches to shade baby's face while allowing air to circulate freely.
If you're still shopping for a stroller, be sure to compare sunshades. One of my favorite features of both our Baby Jogger City Mini and Baby Jogger City Select strollers are the extremely full-coverage sunshades.
Use A Stroller Fan
Keep your little one cool with a stroller fan. Any old battery operated clip-on fan WON'T do. Look for a stroller fan designed to keep tiny fingers away from fan blades like this one from Diono.
Once your baby is 6 months old, protect from the sun with a baby-safe, non-toxic sunscreen like this one from California Baby. It ranked as a 2016 top pick by the Environmental Working Group (see the full list here).
Strip Your Baby
Riding in a stroller in warm weather is just.plain.HOT. Strip your baby down to a diaper for longer outings. Stash that adorable outfit in your diaper bag and slip it on when you reach your destination. And just count how many times people comment that they want to eat your nearly naked baby up.
Alter Your Plans
Choose to walk a shadier route or move to the shadier side of the street, when possible. Opt to take walks during cooler times of the day.
Ultimately, just do whatever you have to do to avoid covering your baby's car seat carrier or stroller in hot months.