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Pram Safety for Summer

The Summer skin cancer message is always slip slop slap, and covering our babies while they’re sleeping in their prams seems like the most sensible (and sun smart) thing to do. However, research done in Sweden has found that covering our babies’ prams with a muslin wrap or a blanket could in fact be putting them in danger.

A paediatrician based at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Stockholm warned that covering a baby’s pram with a blanket or wrap can cause the temperature within the pram to rise quickly as there is little air circulation. A newspaper followed up his warning with their own testing and found that the temperature in the pram rose from 22ºC to 37ºC within an hour.

Temperatures in Sweden are much milder than the very hot Summers we experience here in Australia so we need to consider this as a very real risk to young babies. One of the risk factors for SIDs is elevated body temperature, and covering a pram with a baby sleeping in it could increase the SIDs risk.

Sids and Kids have advised that prams should not be covered: “Avoid covering a pram or stroller with a blanket or sheet as it can create an unsafe and hot environment for baby with little airflow.” They also recommend that the pram not be used as a permanent place to sleep, and if they are asleep in their prams to regularly check them, especially if the pram is forward-facing (where the baby faces away from you).

Dr Leigh Wilson, from the School of Public Health at Sydney University, wrote a research paper on the risks associated with covering babies’ prams while they sleep. She suggests that health practitioners advise mothers to only cover the pram when their baby is in direct sunlight using a netting cover that is commercially designed to fit the pram and has airflow. Under no circumstances should heavy blankets or bunny rugs be used, and should never be pegged tightly to the pram.

The Cancer Council suggest keeping babies indoors where possible, between 10am and 3pm and use fabric to cast a shadow, rather than cover the pram. This will ensure that there is plenty of air flow in the pram and around the baby.

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