It’s the beginning of Australian summer which means that 2 particular news stories involving the sun and babies will be making the rounds again.
The first story warns of the danger of sunburn and shows images of Australian babies with sore, red skin. Even though their parents have done their best to follow the (sometimes confusing) sun advice, these babies have still suffered awful effects of sun exposure. The second story looks equally worrying and shows videos of prams covered in muslins or blankets getting hotter.
It’s sometimes hard to know what’s the safest thing for our babies, especially when there seem to be risks at every turn. We know that UV exposure is a huge problem in our country and that whilst the effects of this don’t show for decades, the damage is being done largely in babyhood and childhood. Even just one case of childhood sunburn can significantly increase the chance of melanoma later on.
We also know that heat stress is a very real concern when it comes to young kids who can’t regulate their body temperature as well as we can.
So how do we keep our babies safe when it's hot?
Whilst news outlets are right to identify prams as particular environments that require parental caution, these stories haven’t necessarily presented the full picture. The main problem is that many people are now interpreting it as advice to never cover their pram. This is not the solution and can be dangerous in itself.
If a pram is uncovered and in direct sunlight, thermal energy from the sun shines straight into the pram and onto the baby inside. Don’t forget that strollers are often set in an upward-facing position meaning that a baby inside will “catch” more of these direct heat (and UV) rays than you will, standing next to them.
This direct sunlight can heat up their skin uncomfortably (which may then translate into a rise in body temperature). That’s why is often better to partially cover the pram (with large air gaps) to block some of the thermal heat shining directly on a baby’s skin.
Our advice is to monitor your environment and choose adaptable sun solutions that you can use, change easily or take off as necessary.
If you are using a musluv baby sun cover, take advantage of its flexibility by enlarging the air gaps the warmer it gets. Our gallery has some good examples of this. Side gaps are great if direct sunlight is shining into the pram. You can then increase those gaps or hang it as an extended sun canopy when you are walking in more shady areas. If the air feels still, try using a safely-placed pram fan in conjunction with your cover to get it moving again.
We don’t live in a perfect or constant environment, and as parents, we need to learn how to live within it safely especially as temperatures seem set to get higher.
Always think of taking a “tool-box” approach to sun protection and take a few types of sun protection which you can layer or remove as needed. Don’t just rely on one type (like sunscreen), but also take things that cover and shade and are easily removable (like sun hats and light, full-cover garments with long sleeves and legs).
Parental common sense is always going to be the number one factor in keeping your baby safe and comfortable when the weather is hot. That includes checking on your baby regularly when you are out and about (whether they are covered or not). It also means keeping them properly hydrated and limiting their time outside in the hot sunshine.