It’s a question all parents face in the summer with a baby, heading out to the car for a drive: how do I keep baby cool in a car when it’s hot outside?
Because we know how scary the statistics are of being in a hot car during the summer months (and especially tragic stories of kids trapped inside)!
Research indicates that the temperature inside a car in the heat can increase dramatically — a car’s internal temperature can rise up to 40 degrees within an hour! That’s why parents are always on a quest to ensure children remain comfortable and cool when safely buckled in their carseat.
Whether your travel plans include a road trip to the beach with baby or to simply survive the everyday errands with kids, be sure to keep these car seat safety tips handy, to keep your baby cool all summer!
Tips for Keeping Your Baby Safe From Overheating This Summer
Open ALL windows
First things first, the second you’re ready to load the kids in the car on a hot day, please just open the doors and windows immediately. Sometimes as parents we’re just going through the motions and make it a habit of buckling children in the car first…because it seems easier and safer than chasing toddlers in a parking lot or driveway (who else has had to use one of these lol??). But loading kids in before making sure it’s cool enough, can get very dangerous with high temperatures!
The very first step for safety in the heat, should always be to open windows and let the AC run for a few minutes. This allows the air to be slightly more tolerable instead of buckling little ones in, only to realize the air conditioner needs a few minutes to actually give off cool air. (Trust me hot air blowing in a child’s face is not only unbearable, but can also be unsafe!)
Do a quick temperature check
The next step when trying to keep your baby cool in the car, should be a simple test of the air quality. This can mean just popping your head in the back seat to make sure the AC is finally circulating. You won’t believe how long it can sometimes take to cool the back of your car, especially if you have a larger vehicle.
I also like to check the metal seat belt buckles to prevent nasty burns or discomforts — those things can get pretty hot with direct sunlight hitting.
Keep children hydrated
One of the easiest and safest precautions moms can take to keep children cool and prevent overheating is to make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. When you have a thirsty child and you add to that high summer temperatures inside a car, the problem of dehydration becomes more serious.
I like to use a timer on my phone and also keep an insulated water bottle or sippy cup near by in my diaper bag for the toddlers.
If you’re breastfeeding a baby just make sure you haven’t missed a feeding and are offering a sippy cup to an older baby. (Note: Check the water in the cup to ensure its actually cool and not warm as high temperatures can change things quickly. I really love this insulated one because of the handles for easy holding and how cool it keeps baby!).
Park in the shade
Prevention can work quite well for keeping kids cool too. So if at all possible, try to prevent overheating by parking in a shaded area when traveling — near a tree or even a parking garage which isn’t under the sun’s direct rays can be an easy trick to keep your car a little cooler. It might not seem like something that can make a big impact, but as temperatures rise those little things really do matter.
Install window shades
If your car doesn’t already come with them, stock up on a few window shades for the kids — they stick to the window so you can roll up or down whenever needed. This is an easy way to keep your child’s carseat from being uncomfortably hot when you are coming back from a shopping trip.
Something to keep in mind though, is that when in doubt buy more than you need because with kids pressing the release button every so often…they can tear — and the last thing you want to hear is whining from the back seat of “the sun’s in my eyes!!” coming from your toddler. If you don’t want the retractable kind that many cars come with these day, grab these window shades you can slide in and out as needed (and now I know why they are an Amazon Bestseller)!!
Use a car seat cover
Another idea for preventing a hot car seat is to use a car seat cover which is exactly what it sounds like: a cover for your child’s car seat when not in use. The cover prevents the car seat from overheating and the metal buckles from burning your child’s skin using a reflective surface and breathable materials to bounce heat away and lower the carseat’s temperature.
I never thought of buying one with my first son because I didn’t really understand their purpose and value, until I experienced the hot car challenges. Plus, with a cover you can extend the life of that carseat to keep it in good condition (because as you may know carseats have a limited warranty partially due to the effects of the sun)!
Remove carseat pads or inserts
I love the versatility of carseats out there — from infant carseats to convertible carseats and all the accessories that come with them. But with those accessories comes a few problems. Take for example, infant carseats that include little padded inserts to make your new baby fit well and stay comfy. Those little pads can make for a super sweaty baby over time — especially if you forget to remove them as baby grows. Because although they are made for infants, sometimes they are used for additional head support for growing babies.
Even I remember making the mistake of leaving one in during the summer months, only to touch the back of my baby’s head and feel the sweat…followed by the motherhood guilt.
So remember to take a closer look at your car seat and all the add-ons especially during the summer months when extra things are NOT needed, but can actually contribute to an uncomfortably baby breaking out in heat rashes.
Invest in a breathable carseat
Of course, one of the best solutions to ensure your baby’s car seat doesn’t overheat on hot days is to invest in a carseat that works well in both winter and summer — car seats with breathable fabrics are a great choice. I know it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between which car seats are the best when there are so many factors to consider but checking the material that will touch baby’s delicate skin directly should be something you pay attention to.
Want a few more ideas to keep baby cool during car rides?
Here are my favorite summer products that you can use in the car (and outdoors as well) to keep your child from overheating:
- A baby-safe fan that attaches to the carseat and stroller – I love this one because of the soft/foam fan blades.
- A spray bottle to lightly mist your child with water
- A cooling wrap is great to give a burst of relief from the heat. You can use this to help a young child cool off around their head and neck. My husband bought one of these for my toddler years ago and they worked great (for both kids and adult)!
- You can also use a cooling pack to lower the temperature of a hot carseat before getting in (just don’t use it while you are driving since it’s not meant to work like that and can interfere with safely securing your child in their seat).
- Breathable clothing it’s easy to want to always swaddle or cover up a new baby in their carseat, but the best way to actually prevent overheating is to simply dress little ones comfortably. Layering clothes and blankets and hats will just add to a fussy or uncomfortable baby.
- (Note: Never use a carseat canopy or blanket to completely shield the baby from the sun — using it to slightly block the sun is okay as long as there is air flowing through…but covering up baby in a carseat or stroller can have a dangerously reverse effect trapping baby in a hot area. If you are going to use a blanket as shade try breathable blankets, but don’t cover baby completely as a precaution.)
I hope these tips help bring a little peace of mind when you travel this summer, knowing that your child is cool and comfortable in the car even on the hottest days!
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You can also check out some additional posts to help you find more ways to stay cool with kids:
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.