'It's a recipe for disaster': The parenting myth that could prove fatal for your child

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Soaring summer temperatures pose an undoubtable set of dangers to young children each year, particularly newborns biologically incapable of regulating their own body temperatures.

Parents of infants have now been issued a concerning warning about prams - a device likely being used by most parents on a daily basis - due to heat being trapped inside as a result of poor air ventilation.

Children can suffer catastrophic and even fatal consequences from being exposed to the excessive heat inside prams, which can rocket up to 15 degrees higher than the outside temperature, paediatric nurse and founder of CPR Kids Sarah Hunstead told Yahoo News Australia.

“The reason is that it’s not allowing any air to circulate inside the pram, and that’s the problem. Babies are really exposed to heat-related illness - they can overheat and dehydrate very quickly,” Ms Hunstead said.

Paediatrician Sarah Hunstead urged parents not to cover prams with blankets. Source: File/Getty Images

“They actually don’t need to be in the pram too long until they start to suffer because of the heat.”

In an experiment conducted by CPR Kids, based in Sydney, the temperature inside a pram recorded a reading more than seven degrees higher than the room temperature.

The pram temperature was 33 degrees, while the room temperature 26.6, with several other tests returning similar results.

She said it was also imperative parents were “hyper-aware” of what they were dressing and wrapping their children in.

“A baby who’s in a pram on a hot day who may have a wrap over them as well as their jumpsuit and then a cover tied over the top is just a recipe for disaster,” Ms Hunstead said.

‘Definitely don’t cover the pram’

Some parents might think covering their pram with a light swaddling cloth is shading their child from the hot sun, but they could actually be creating more heat than they’re preventing, Ms Hunstead said.

“Definitely don’t cover the pram with a blanket. What we really should be doing is making sure the pram has adequate air circulation. But we also have to balance that with how we are protecting them from the sun.

The pram temperature was significantly high than the room temperature in several tests. Source: CPR Kids

“That balance is always the trickiest part of parenting, so being able to do that is really important.”

Ms Hunstead recommended parents adapt covers specifically designed to fit the type of pram they have, rather than improvising and tying a cloth blanket to each side.

“Often pram companies will have specific hoods or covers that are mesh and allow really good air circulation but still protect babies from the sun.”

Ms Hunstead said close observation was required if parents were using a cloth blanket loosely thrown over the pram, as it could easily become a suffocation or strangulation hazard.

“What we don’t want is it tightly tied over the pram, restricting circulation and view of the child.”

“You don’t want the baby pulling it down over their face and then being unable to remove it.”

‘Check regularly’

Parents should never be complacent about the way they’re using prams, Ms Hunstead said, urging them to focus on using them as transport instead of a carrier.

“When babies are covered up in the pram, we need to check on them regularly because you can’t just assume that they’re ok in there. We need to make sure that we keep that visual, and keep the air circulating.

She encouraged parents keep their babies cool inside a pram by dressing them in weather-appropriate clothing, which typically would mimic what parents themselves would be comfortable wearing in the conditions.

One test returned more than seven degrees difference between the pram and room temperature. Source: CPR Kids

“Also making sure that they’re really well hydrated. In hot weather, they may need more frequent breast or bottle feeds which is really important when keeping up their fluids.

“And that there’s an appropriate cover over the top of the pram that’s designed for that particular type of weather, and that there’s really good circulation.”

Don’t leave them in the pram

“Prams aren’t designed to have babies in them for a long period of time, and pram manufacturers often have a warning saying that they should’t be where babies have their sleep.

She said they were clearly designed as a mode of transport, so parents needed to make sure they were removing their child from the pram regularly.

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