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I was pretty excited when I found out that I was having a spring baby, right until the middle of summer last year when it became almost impossible to keep the baby cool—especially in the car. This summer has already presented a similar challenge and it’s only early June.
When I started brainstorming ideas to keep Eli cool, I struggled to balance safety with temperature. A fan could become a projectile in an accident and so I nixed that idea pretty quickly. Choosing a lower profile car seat was an option, but I preferred the safety benefits of the more contained one. And while I love Eli’s car seat, I also know that it is inherently warmer than the rest of the car. For starters, he’s facing backwards, so the air conditioning doesn’t directly hit him. His seat is well padded for safety and comfortability, but that means it doesn’t breathe as well. And that’s all on top of the already insufferable heat that results from parking the car outside in the summer.
After several weeks of a sweaty, red-faced baby in the car, I’ve finally found a good combination to help keep Eli cool and still allow us to get all our errands done.
1. Choose a light colored car seat
I kind of dropped the ball on this one, though we did opt for a grey seat instead of a black one. If the seat you choose has a lighter fabric option, definitely go that route. It may be more of a pain to keep clean, but you’ll be able to save your baby some precious degrees of comfortability.
2. Use a car seat cover
If you’re like us and have already purchased a dark colored car seat, one of these covers can be a big help. It makes a big difference in how much heat the seat absorbs, which results in a cooler baby. We love ours, at least when I remember to put it on.
3. Pre-cool the car
This one won’t work everywhere because obviously you don’t want to leave your car on and unattended in certain neighborhoods, but at least at home if you can turn the car on and blast the air for a few minutes, you may be able to make the ride a bit more comfortable.
4. Use ice packs
Even when you pre-cool the car, the seat can sometimes stay a bit warm, so after doing a bit of searching, I found a couple of products that help cool the seat itself. You keep these in the freezer until a few minutes before you leave, pop them in the seat to pre-cool it and then remove and put the baby in. You can take them frozen in the car and leave them in the seat while you’re out, but obviously they won’t stay cool forever. If you’re crafty, you can use this pattern to make your own, or do like we do and just toss a couple of icepacks randomly in there without a fancy pouch.
5. Cool drinks in the back seat
Offering your child plenty of water before and after a trip can make a big difference in their body temperature. Cups can become dangerous projectiles in car accidents, so be sure that you can secure a cup before you leave it in the backseat, or make an adult stay in the back to hang on to it and offer periodic sips.
6. Plan trips in the morning or evening
Whenever possible, arrange your appointments or errands when it is coolest outside. If you have to go out in the heat of the day, look for covered parking or spots in the shade, even if it means a little longer walk to your destination.
7. Dress kids in light clothing
Obviously if it’s hot enough to be an issue in the car, you’re not dressing your kid in sweats, but specifically choosing light clothes for long car trips will go a long way. Often, if we have to go somewhere nicer and need to dress the baby in anything heavier than light cotton rompers or shorts, I’ll strip his bottoms off before buckling him in. Dressing your kids in lightweight breathable clothes, or removing a layer can go a long way to keeping them cool.
8. Tint your windows
I drive a hatchback and I swear it has more windows than everyone else’s car, which means more sun and more heat. While we’re planning to get the rear windows professionally tinted in the next month or so, in the meantime, we’re using these static cling temporary shades. They’re safer than some of the other window shades that can dislodge and become a projectile in an accident and they do a great job at keeping the sun out and the temperature down.
9. Have an adult in the back cooling off the baby
When all else fails, we usually opt for human power. When it’s really hot and the baby is not tolerating it well, my husband will sit in the backseat and manually fan the baby. It helps keep him distracted and cool and can even help with that water spilling issue from #5. (Picture obviously not taken in car. But still.)
How do you keep your kids cool in the car in the summer?