When my daughters were young, taking them for walks in the stroller was part of our daily routine.
It got us out of the house, giving us all a welcomed change of scenery, in addition to the exercise for me and fresh air for us all. A wonderful way to happily pass the time, since everyone always seemed content.
Taking your baby on regular walks is good for healthy brain development. New neural pathways are connecting as babies use all of their senses to take in their surroundings on a walk.
There is so much to see, feel, smell, and hear! This stimulation builds synapses (the connections between brain cells) that are essential for healthy development.
The gentle hum of the wheels, the rocking motion of the stroller, and the fresh air can be nearly hypnotic, encouraging rest and oftentimes, sleep. It’s good for babies and children to get a break from the different kinds of stimuli they encounter inside, including electronics. It gives their minds a rest and can be a peaceful part of everyone’s day.
Whether an infant who is tucked in, facing you, or older babies and toddlers facing forward, it’s a new and exciting way to take in the world. Of course, taking a walk with your little one when it’s a perfect fall day is ideal, even bundling up in blankets when the air is crisp can make for lovely walking conditions. But not all days offer up such perfect weather.
On those hot summer days, when the temperatures are scorching, humidity is high, and everyone is hot, you might feel just as cooped up in the house as you do in the middle of winter. You still want to get outside and take a walk, but you might be worried about how hot your baby will be in the stroller. And rightly so.
Keeping your baby cool in the stroller when temperatures soar is important since overheating can be dangerous. Here are 8 easy ways to keep your little one cool and comfortable when summer comes around and the temps go up.
1. Canopy Extender
Eliminating direct sunlight altogether is one of the easiest and most important ways to keep your baby cool and safe when the weather is hot.
Protecting your baby’s skin from harmful sun rays is important, especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t recommend sunscreen on babies younger than six months.
You can add extra shade to your baby stroller or baby carrier with a canopy extender. A canopy extender easily attaches to the top of your stroller, vastly increasing the amount of shade, and keeping your baby out of the sun and its harmful UVA and UVB rays.
A sunshade is a little different from a canopy, as these products are made to cover the entire stroller, using mesh to keep your baby in the shade while also allowing air to circulate. This provides complete coverage from direct sun exposure as well as wind, dust, and insects.
This SnoozeShade Plus option is great for slightly older babies. An added benefit of sunshades is that it creates a darker environment, ideal for napping on the go.
It’s important to note that you should never use a towel or blanket, even the kind made of gauzy material, draped over the stroller as a way to provide shade. It can trap heat inside and make it dangerously hot for your baby.
3. Stroller Umbrella
A stroller umbrella attaches to your stroller and offers additional shade to your baby while you’re out and about.
While it’s always a good idea to choose an umbrella that’s the same brand as your stroller, there are plenty of universal stroller umbrellas to choose from. This Sport-Brella adjustable stroller umbrella with a universal clamp is a popular choice from Amazon.
4. Dress wisely
My older daughter was born in early May, during a particularly warm spell across the midwest. Any time I would take her outside, my mom would frantically rush to cover her head with a hat, her feet in socks, and her little body in blankets.
With the weather so warm, it hardly felt necessary, but my mom was adamant.
It’s not uncommon for well-meaning grandparents to want to bundle up infants, no matter the weather, but it’s not always a good idea. When it’s hot outside, it’s important to dress for it and choose lightweight and loose-fitting clothing. Babies and young children can’t regulate their body temperature very well, causing them to overheat easily.
Dressing your baby too warmly can lead to heat rashes and heat exhaustion while underdressing them can lead to heat stroke, sunburn, and even some skin cancers.
Choose breathable fabrics, like cotton in lighter colors, as darker colors can absorb and trap heat. Bamboo is another popular fabric that will wick moisture away from the skin and release it to evaporate.
5. Stay hydrated
As the heat index increases, the fluids should too.
Infants and babies under the age of six months get everything they need from breastmilk and formula, so on hot days be sure you are including more feedings to prevent dehydration. For babies older than 6 months, you can start to supplement with water to increase hydration.
Sweat is the body’s natural air conditioning, but young babies’ systems aren’t well developed and they don’t sweat enough to cool off their bodies. Their body temperatures rise quickly and they can overheat far more rapidly than older children and adults.
To make sure that your little one isn’t getting dehydrated, be sure they have a normal amount of wet diapers.
6. Stroller Fan
If you’re looking for a few more ways to keep your baby cool in the summer, investing in some cool gadgets can be really helpful. A stroller fan is one such item.
Stroller fans easily clip onto strollers and car seat carriers for added air circulation and many babies find the direct breeze particularly delightful. In addition to the cooling effect, stroller fans offer the added benefit of white noise. And since they’re portable, they can also be used inside, attached to the crib, for extra airflow on warm nights.
This stroller fan from Homelifairy is battery-operated, rechargeable, and has bendable tripod legs that easily attach just about anywhere. This bladeless stroller fan from Skip Hop is also a cool option.
7. Seat Liners
Stroller seat liners are also an excellent way to keep your baby cool on hot days. Whether mesh or gel, stroller liners wick the heat and moisture away from your baby, creating their own ventilation system. Seat liners also add a little extra cushion, which can make the ride even more comfortable.
Some strollers have a detachable back panel that you can take off and allow for more airflow. The Nuna Maxx stroller has a removable back panel that unsnaps to reveal mesh that keeps your baby cooler during the summer months.
8. Make your own cooling devices.
Plan ahead and create your own cooling system with wet towels, water bottles, and cooler packs.
Wet towels, previously soaked in cold water and stored in plastic bags can be used to cool your baby’s skin during warm walks.
You can also use store-bought ice packs or even make your own. Ice or cooler packs are easy to grab from the freezer and wrap in a towel before you head out the door. Or, for a cheaper, homemade version, fill up water bottles about halfway and store them in the freezer.
When you’re ready for a walk, take them out, wrap them in a towel, and tuck them into your stroller.
How do I know if my baby is too hot?
It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of overheating. Here are some things to look out for:
- Face could be red or flushed
- Skin is very warm to the touch
- Acting dizzy or confused
- Rapid heartbeat
- Appears to be more irritable than usual or is lethargic, and could even be unresponsive
- Fewer wet diapers
- The fontanelle (the soft spot on top of the head) appears sunken
- Rapid breathing or panting
How hot is too hot for my baby in a stroller?
Well… that depends. There are a variety of factors that will affect your baby’s temperature. Some of those variables include:
- Timing – when it’s particularly scorching, try and avoid the hours of 10-4, when the sun is at its hottest.
- How long you spend outside – the less time you’re outdoors, the less the temperature matters.
- The age of your child – Older babies and children can regulate their body temperature better than infants.
- How much preparation and effort you’re willing to put in… see our tips above!
The AAP guidelines suggest that a heat index of 90° Fahrenheit can pose a health risk to babies and young children. Note that the heat index isn’t just the temperature, it’s the measure of how the heat feels coupled with the humidity. So be sure to take a look before heading out.
Are stroller fans safe?
As discussed above, stroller fans can be a great way to keep babies cool. And the AAP agrees but offers some clear guidelines if you choose to use one.
First, when using a fan with blades, be sure to position the fan away from your child’s curious, little fingers. Second, direct the airflow away from your child’s face as it can dry out their mouth and nose.
Finally, the AAP warns against using a fan when the temperature is over 90° because it can actually make your baby hotter.