February 22, 2023


We like to think of babies as tiny versions of ourselves. But babies aren’t simply miniature adults, especially when it comes to coping in the heat. Babies are at greater risk of overheating and need different cooling strategies to those that work for adults.

Parents have long covered prams and strollers with cloth to shade the carriage from the hot sun. However, our recent study showed this can substantially increase temperatures inside the stroller.

After just 20 minutes – the time it takes to go to the shop or drop your child off at daycare – the stroller carriage was 3.7℃ hotter than outside when draped with a dry flannelette cloth and 2.6℃ when draped with dry muslin.

Attaching a battery-operated fan to the stroller wasn’t very effective either at reducing the stroller temperature, cooling the carriage by just 0.1℃ relative to outside.

But dampening the cloth can reduce the temperature in the carriage.

Why are babies vulnerable in the heat?

There are three main reasons why babies might struggle more in hot weather compared to adults.

First, their body shape is very different. Infants have a much greater area of skin surface available to exchange heat with the surrounding environment, compared to their body mass. This means in very hot conditions their body temperature can warm up at a much faster rate.

Second, infants can’t sweat as much as mum or dad and are therefore less able to cool down by sweat evaporation. This is the main physiological disadvantage that places them at greater risk in hot weather.

Finally – and possibly most importantly – babies are almost entirely dependent on someone else to keep them cool. Other than crying, babies can’t communicate that they are too hot. On a hot day, it is the parents who have to check for signs of distress, choose suitable clothing, and make sure shade is found during the hottest part of the day (normally noon to 3pm). Babies can’t do any of this for themselves.

So, what can be done to keep baby strollers cool?

In our same study, we also showed some strategies are really effective at cooling strollers down even on hot and sunny days.

Loosely draping a damp muslin cloth over the stroller reduced the temperature inside the stroller by 3℃.

Strollers covered in summer

This cooling effect was even greater when a damp cloth was combined with a clip-on fan, reducing the stroller temperature by 4.7℃ compared with outside.

This method harnesses the power of evaporation. Just like we lose body heat when sweat evaporates from our skin, the evaporation of water from the damp cloth removes heat from the air inside the stroller and lowers the temperature inside.

Using a spray bottle to regularly top-up the water in the cloth every 15-20 minutes will prevent it drying out and increase the amount of time this method will provide cool relief.

Author provided


How else can I protect my baby from the heat?

Minimise the time spent outside with your infant during hot weather – get from A to B as quickly as possible.

Babies should never be left in a stationary stroller in the sun (even if covered with a damp cloth) as this reduces air movement through the stroller and increases the speed at which it heats up.

Any time infants or children are exposed to the heat, it’s important to keep them well hydrated. Drinking water or breastfeeds should be offered frequently. Infants will need more fluids during hot weather.

It’s also important to regularly check infants for signs of heat illness. The most common are:

  • being overly warm to touch
  • hot, red and dry skin
  • irritability
  • looking generally unwell and/or lethargic.

If your baby is showing signs of heat illness, find cool relief immediately and seek medical help.The Conversation

James Smallcombe, Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Sydney; Mohammad Fauzan Bin Maideen, Associate Lecturer in Paediatric Physiotherapy, University of Sydney, and Ollie Jay, Professor of Heat & Health; Director of Heat & Health Research Incubator; Director of Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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  • When I covered my pram I always made sure there was a big air pocket so that it wouldn’t be too hot.


  • I’ve always avoided going out in the heat and never cover my pram


  • Thanks for sharing these details


  • Great read, thanks for sharing!
    I never covered my pram, my babe was muc older by the time we got to the warmer months


  • I never did cover my pram with a blanket. If I had used anything, I would have used a mosquito net to keep the bugs away.


  • I also never used a blanket to cover my pram but I do see many people that have really thick blankets covering there prams and often wondered to myself why do this the baby must so hot under it


  • I don’t remember covering the pram but this is interesting to read all the same.


  • I didn’t realise the difference was so great… I mostly tried to avoid going out when it was super hot. That’s a pretty simple fix, though.


  • I would still be nervous about the damp cloth.. I just try to limit the time out and stay cool


  • I would never have thought of using a damp cloth to keep them cool. If I needed to go somewhere I’d try to make it very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. I thought that if it was a bit uncomfortable for me being out in the sun, it would be twice as bad for my boys.


  • I never covered my pram with a cloth as this was a big concern for me, I choose to go out on walks when the sun wasn’t so hot.


  • The damp cloth is a great idea as it provides shade and cooling..


  • I never did cover the pram on a hot day because I wanted airflow. And I would wait for my walks, etc. for a cooler part of the day.


  • Yikes! I don’t think I ever covered their pram but wow definately something to think about. This weather is just disgusting, I’m not going out in it in anycase.


  • I don’t think I ever did this, but would never have seen it as a bad thing!


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