Recent university research has finally proved that parents do need to be aware when it comes to how (and with what) to cover their prams.
A study done by researchers at the University of Sydney shows that enclosing your pram or stroller with blankets and even most lightweight cloths can create a stifling environment. Fully covering a pram could raise the internal temperature of the pram by almost 4 degrees which is potentially enough to produce some serious consequences for your baby.
Babies are uniquely ill-adapted to dealing with the sorts of roasting temperatures we are now seeing almost every summer. Not only can they not sweat and cool down in the same way adults can, but they also have a much larger skin surface to body weight ratio. This means that heat from the surrounding air temperature can heat up their bodies much faster than for us.
But any parent and thermodynamic scientist knows that carefully shading the stroller is essential to blocking the sun's direct heat, (as well as light and UV) from entering the pram in the first place.
So what can be done to cool down prams AND protect a baby's delicate skin from this direct exposure?
The first thing the researchers say is not to fully enclose your pram with your cover. In hot weather, your best bet is to choose a shade cloth that allows you to provide only as much loose coverage as you need given the outside temperature on that particular day. Leaving side gaps for plentiful air circulation (even better if you have a pram fan to help circulate the air) , or even just half covering the stroller is one clever solution. On cooler days, you can choose to increase coverage to block out more UV which still bounces off surfaces and enters the pram, increasing a baby's lifetime exposure to UV.
The researchers also importantly recommend dampening the cloth cover (and taking a spray or drinking water bottle out with you so you can keep the cloth damp). This will help reduce the temperature in the pram considerably. Pairing this with a pram fan which is angled to blow across the surface of the damp cloth (rather than directly at the baby) will create an evaporative effect and further aid the removal of hot air from the pram. Musluv baby sun covers are well suited to being dampened in this way, as the layers of muslin cotton can hold more water than a single layer of ordinary muslin.
One thing that the researchers didn't consider however, is that when you wet any cloth, its ability to block UV is also reduced.
Ordinary muslins (even when dry) do a relatively poor job of blocking UV. When dampened, their scant protection is reduced even further, with a larger proportion of UV rays coming through the holes in the fabric and the wetted fibres.
By contrast, musluv baby sun covers when dry, provide excellent sun protection. When dampened, the lighter coloured musluvs' ability to block UV is reduced from over 97% to around 91%. However, the dark sleep time musluv covers (such as our Charcoal Dreams cover) have been independently lab-tested to show that even in a wet state, its UPF50+ rating and excellent sun protection is unchanged. Which is a great reason to make sure you always have one on hand!
Our children love being outdoors, but keeping them safe from the sun is also so important.
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