Sweaty babies aren’t fun to hold, and they can’t be comfortable when they’re hot in their car seat on long car rides.
Whether by using cooling towels or super fancy ventilation systems, there are ways to help your baby keep cool as a cucumber in their car seat.
We’ll answer your questions about why babies sweat so much and explain how to keep your little one cool in their car seat.
- Overheating is dangerous for babies, so monitor their internal temperature and look for signs like flushed cheeks and rapid breathing.
- Keep babies cool in car seats by controlling the temperature, dressing them appropriately, using cooling towels, and blocking the sun.
- Consider light-colored car seats with moisture-wicking fabric, and use gadgets like the Noggle to improve air circulation in the car.
- Never leave your child alone in the car, as temperatures can rise quickly and put them at risk of overheating.
Dangers of Overheating
Overheating can still happen during cool months if you aren’t careful (1). Your baby’s internal temperature should be between 98 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (2). The best way to determine if your baby is too hot is to feel the nape of their neck.
If their cheeks are flushed and they’re breathing rapidly, those are also good indicators of overheating. Remember, if you’re too warm, your baby probably is too.
Ways To Keep Your Baby Cool In The Car Seat
I’ve probably terrified you with all this talk of overheating, but don’t despair. There are all kinds of products and tips to help your baby stay cool (3). Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Control the temperature when possible: The best way to prevent overheating is to avoid being in too warm of an area. So while you’re in the car, use the AC if possible to keep the area cool.
- Dress your baby appropriately for the weather: It may be tempting to bundle your baby while out and about, but this can cause overheating quickly. If it’s 75 degrees out and your mother-in-law is insisting your baby wears a hat but you feel your baby is too hot, politely tell her to mind her own business. It may save your baby’s life.
- Cooling towels: If you’re in a pinch and you need to help your baby cool off quickly, cooling towels are beneficial. This helps bring down the body temperature and alleviate overheating. Cooling towels should only be used over the car seat harness, never underneath.
Never put anything behind a baby’s head or neck because anything that causes the baby’s head to be pushed forward can compromise their airway
Editor's Note:Kristen Gardiner, CPST
- Sweating is OK! As long as your baby doesn’t show signs of overheating, a little sweat will not hurt them. Sweating is the body’s natural response to regulating body temperature.
1. Blocking the Sun
Sun protection doesn’t just come in a bottle. There are a few ways to block the sun from overheating the car interior. Each comes with its advantages, but they’re all valid options to consider:
Window tinting isn’t only beneficial in giving drivers and passengers more privacy. It can also block some of the harmful UV rays and keep your car’s interior temperature cooler as well. To top it off, a tinted window can also prevent shattered glass from flying inside your car in the event of an accident.
Tinting may even reduce the temperature inside your car by up to 70%. However, remember that there are laws about how dark your window tinting can be. If you decide to tint your windows, find out your state’s laws regarding window tint.
These are really nice when you’re out and about and your car is parked in a sunny area or if your driveway isn’t shaded. There are a few different types of reflective sunshades:
- Accordion-style: These simply fold open like an accordion and are placed on the front windshield. The reflective surface reflects the sun’s rays outward and reduces interior temperatures.
- Mesh sunshades: These go on the side windows and can help block the sun while you’re driving. While these are nice for keeping the bright sun out of the eyes, they can make the view out the window pretty dark. This can cause difficulty for the driver if they need to back out of a parking space or change lanes.
- Solar/reflective car covers: If you don’t have a garage at home, reflective car covers can help keep the car cool while it’s parked. They work in a similar way to the accordion-style sunshade, but they fit over your entire car. Of course, this is the most labor-intensive option.
2. Light-Colored Car Seats
I’m not telling you to buy a new car if you have dark seats, but cars with a lighter interior have an advantage. This also goes for your child’s car seat.
If you’re expecting a baby soon and you’re worried about the summer months, we recommend getting a seat with light-colored fabric. This won’t absorb as much heat as darker colors.
Black car seats can reach upwards of 192 degrees Fahrenheit (4). Some car seats come with moisture-wicking fabric, which can help regulate sweating and body temperature.
3. The Noggle
There’s also a gadget called the Noggle that can be helpful if your back seat doesn’t cool down efficiently. You can hook the Noggle to your car’s air vent and feed it into the back seat. This way, the AC can better reach your kids.
There are Noggle options for forward-facing and rear-facing babies. They also come in 6-foot and 10-foot options. This is nice because you can find one to accommodate your car interior.
They can be used with heat or air conditioning and are easy to remove and install. The downside is that it may get in the way if you have a front-seat passenger.
4. Encourage Sweating
Sweating is your baby’s best defense against overheating. If you have a toddler or older child, a spray bottle with a fan may be fun for them (if you aren’t afraid of a potential mess).
5. Don’t Leave Your Child Alone in the Car
This one is obvious, but it’s still such a prominent issue that it’s worth mentioning. Leaving your child unattended in the car, especially on a hot and sunny day, can lead to overheating and even death.
Temperatures inside a car can rise nearly twenty degrees in just ten minutes — even during mild temperatures (5). It’s never OK to leave your baby alone in the car for any amount of time.