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To Cover or Not to Cover? Keeping Your Baby Safe in the Sun

With the recent heatwave, it was inevitable that one particular news story would once more start to circulate online and in the media.

Since a Swedish newspaper first published the warning about covering babies in prams in 2014, it’s been shared SO MANY times and has resulted in nothing more than making parents feel judged, scared and confused.

Here at SnoozeShade HQ we believe in facts. We believe that parents have a tough enough job as it is, so we do not judge.

We believe that sun safety is infinitely more important than sales. And this is why we took to Facebook live to argue against the Swedish scaremongering story once and for all. The video has been viewed many, many times, and picked up by The Mirror too- which is fantastic!  It means that at last parents are being told the truth, and urged to follow common sense instead.

Even The Sun followed up with a story about how to shade babies safely complete with a quote from expert Dr Rahul Chodhari, from the Royal College of Paediatrics who gave some common sense advice.

The story created by a Swedish journalist who conducted an experiment with one pram on a hot and sunny day has single-handedly frightened parents the world over, but it’s time to hear the truth.

It is more dangerous to expose your baby to the sun than it is to cover their pram with a thin blanket or muslin. Read on to find out why.

Babies under the age of 6 months cannot wear sun screen and doctors advise that they completely AVOID direct exposure to the sun.

This means that if your baby is sleeping in a pram on a sunny day, they must be shaded from the sun completely. Babies do not have enough melanin in their skin, and the skin also has fewer layers compared to adults. This means that not only is the skin much thinner, but it can also burn in seconds. Just five instances of sunburn in childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer by 80%. These are all known facts, and cannot be ignored by parents.

Heatstroke is a very real danger to babies and children on hot days.  It’s caused by three things - humidity (70%), UV rays (20%) and temperature (10%).

To counteract humidity you can use a pram fan to move the air around. To counteract UV rays you use a shade. To counteract the high temperature you move to a cooler area. This is all common sense advice that all parents should be aware of.

So how do parents know if the Swedish story regarding the ‘danger’ of covering prams with thin blankets or muslins is right or wrong?

FACT:  Parents have been using muslins to cover their prams for years and a quick google search will tell you that not one case of a baby death has been reported due to this. The only information you will find is the Swedish story, which we know now is not based on fact and, even more recently, a Scandinavian baby product retailer conducted a similar 'experiment' on video (which has now been watched 11 million times).

FACT: Doctors and experts agree that babies should NOT be exposed to dangerous UV rays. You cannot protect them if you do not cover the pram.

FACT: If you do not wish to cover your baby’s pram, your only option is to stay at home away from the sunshine. It’s recommended that the sun is avoided during the hours of 11am and 3pm anyway, but for younger babies you will need to stay home all day to be safe.

FACT: There are lots of sunshades on the market, many of which follow criteria set out by SunSmart Cancer, who say: “For the best protection, pram shade covers should completely cover the pram and be made of densely woven fabric that combines a mesh section – so the baby can see and air can circulate – and a shade fabric section. The fabric section should block close to 100% of UV radiation (UPF50+) and the mesh section should block at least 70% of UV radiation (UPF3.3).”

FACT: If you do not have a sunshade, or you leave it at home, and you’re out and about you have two options. Firstly, you could allow your baby to be exposed to UV rays and risk sunburn, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. OR you can use a muslin or thin blanket to cover the pram and provide shade. Attach it loosely to the pram handles and it will block more UV than nothing. The average muslin blocks around 80% of UV (that's scientific fact for white cotton). There are safe ways of doing everything.

Parents, it really is a case of using common sense. The SnoozeShade has been subjected to rigorous testing against safety standards, above and beyond what is required. We have been working with experts for the last eight years to ensure that the product is not only 100% safe, but practical to use and sufficient to offer protection against up to 99% of the sun’s harmful rays.

We always advise that parents check regularly on their babies while they’re sleeping beneath a SnoozeShade, or any other pram shade. We advocate common sense and safety always comes first. If you’re not sure, check on your baby- but please, please do not allow them to be exposed to UV rays.

When the weather is hot, keep babies and small children hydrated, cool and as shaded as possible. Always seek medical attention if you think that your child is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and apply sunscreen to children older than six months.

And parents? Don’t forget that YOU can burn too. Set a good example - wear sunscreen, stay shaded and drink lots of water. Stay safe this summer.

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