This week, guest bloggers SnoozeShade talk us through the debate on shading your little one's buggy . . .
As soon as the sun starts to appear and temperatures rise, SnoozeShade HQ (understandably) receives messages, emails and comments via social media asking how to keep babies and young children safe in the sunshine.
Lots of parents are concerned about covering the pram with material of any kind, mostly in part due to common sense, but unfortunately also due to the vast array of scaremongering stories that crop up every year in the media that give parents the impression that it is unsafe to cover the pram with anything at all.
Safety is at the very heart of SnoozeShade, so, with this in mind, we wanted to share some of our top pieces of advice when it comes to keeping little ones safe when the sun is out.
As a company we pride ourselves on putting forward the right advice, backed up by scientific data and research, so that parents are equipped with the knowledge they need to make an informed decision. We’re also always happy to answer any questions you may have – so feel free to get in touch via Facebook, Instagram or email us
What is SnoozeShade?
SnoozeShade was designed by British mum, Cara Sayer, who wanted nothing more than to keep her daughter Holly safe and protected whilst helping her to sleep.
Cara had become increasingly frustrated when attempting to pin muslin cloths, cardigans or other items over her daughter’s pram whenever she was out and about at nap time.
Cara suffered from post-natal depression and so it was important for her (like any new mum) to be able to get out of the house, socialise with other mums and get fresh air and exercise. But, equally important, was that Holly got the sleep she needed to grow and develop when they were out and so, the first product, SnoozeShade Original was born. Not just a sleep aid. Not just a sun shade. Not just another product babies and parents don’t really need.
SnoozeShade Original is a one size fits all sunshade and air-permeable blackout blind designed to create a darkened environment for sleep, away from distractions, stimulation and well-meaning onlookers.
It also blocks up to 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, making it a fantastic tool in the fight against sun damage too. Doctors worldwide agree that babies aged under 6 months must be kept out of direct sunlight. SnoozeShade makes this easy and safe to do.
Each and every SnoozeShade product is subjected to rigorous safety tests that actually go above and beyond what is required in the nursery industry. All products are designed to be safe enough for a newborn as Cara wanted to go the extra mile to ensure her products were as safe as possible.
As Cara says, “I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't think that I had taken every precaution and knew I had done as much as I could to ensure that my products are as safe as possible.”
To cover or not to cover?
So - should you cover your baby’s pram during hot and sunny weather? The answer lies with you. If you are not in any way comfortable with doing so, then please trust your instincts and do not cover your baby’s pram. But, with that comes the condition that you do not expose your baby to direct sunlight either. Experts and doctors all agree that babies under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight or wear sunscreen. So if you don’t feel comfortable with using any form of cover then there are other things you can do.
If you don’t cover your pram from the sun then you must seek shade at all times, especially during the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its peak.
Also bear in mind that experts advise sunscreen should be worn (by those old enough) between the months of April and October in the UK, so with this advice we can assume that the sun’s UV rays are strong enough to avoid during the entirety of those months, and not just during summer.
If you do want to cover your baby’s pram, there are several points you need to consider. Firstly, the material that you cover your baby’s pram with should be air-permeable.
“Air permeability is intrinsically linked to breathability. Air permeability is “the velocity of an air flow passing perpendicularly through a test specimen under specified conditions of test area, pressure drop, and time” (according to BS EN ISO 9237: 1995). All air permeable fabrics are breathable to some extent, though not all breathable fabrics are air permeable. (https://www.snoozeshade.com/pages/is-snoozeshade-safe)
What this all means is that the material you use to cover your baby’s pram must allow air to pass through it easily. You can test this yourself by putting it over your face and checking whether or not you can breathe easily through your nose and mouth. Synthetic fibres can’t retain moisture or heat, so the fibres won’t swell - and this means they remain air-permeable, and this is why the SnoozeShade is made from a synthetic fabric and not cotton. If you cover your baby’s pram with a material made from cotton, the fibres in that material can swell and this can result in heat and moisture becoming trapped, allowing heat to build.
Another point of consideration is colour. Black was chosen for SnoozeShade for scientific reasons not only for its black-out and sleep aid properties but because darker colours naturally block more UV. Whilst some parents may be concerned that black ‘absorbs the heat’, in reality black actually reflects heat faster than pale colours and needs no additional chemical treatment to enable it to block UV rays. Pale colours usually either have to be solid (and thus not air-permeable) or are treated with chemicals in order to block UV.
Lastly, you need to consider how effective the material you’re using actually is at covering the pram. The best shade should be all around your baby, covering all angles and leaving no skin exposed to the sun. It’s not just the sun that causes problems - UV is reflected off pavements, water and sand. This is why parasols are not the best solution as you will need to move them constantly around as you walk with the pram and they only cover small areas. A shade that completely covers the exposed parts of your pram is the only shade that will guarantee your baby is safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
And we’re not just saying this, it has been shown that just one instance of sunburn increases a child’s risk of skin cancer by 50% and if burned more than 5 times it goes up to 80%. This is about protecting your child for the long term as well as in the short term.
Do your own research and trust your instincts
As ever, we encourage all parents to do their own research and not just take our word for it. We advocate parents being informed and empowered and we believe that knowledge is key. Read up on sun safety for babies, methods of sun protection and the best ways to keep little ones safe. Read the labels of the products you buy, and if you’re not sure on the level of sun protection then contact the manufacturer and ask them.
Read viral media stories which provide plenty of fear but no guidance on how to keep baby safe with caution, and trust your own instincts. Lots of newspaper stories will tell you that covering your baby’s pram with anything is a bad idea - but none of this leads back to even one scientific study – it has all been created as click bait to scare and be shared. The stories are also about blankets and other fabrics which have not been made for the purpose of sun protection.
But that said, and as already mentioned, the decision is yours. SnoozeShade goes above and beyond normal safety requirements but nothing replaces parental supervision. Never leave your baby unattended, always check on their comfort regularly and, if you are at all unsure, stay inside or in a completely shaded area at all time
Always dress your baby in loose, light layers and use breathable materials. Keep baby hydrated, respond to cues of distress and stay vigilant for signs of too much sun exposure.
Don't forget to always have a family first aid kit to hand - ours is perfect for slinging in your buggy! Our Loved By Parents award winning kit comes in an attractive pouch containing 116 pieces of first aid essentials, including a digital thermometer, instant cold pack, Savlon and paramedics' recommended shears which cut through clothing and seatbelts. The kit also includes a handy information leaflet with first aid tips and advice for treating common injuries. Buy yours here for peace of mind on family days out.