Babies sweat a lot. Their sweat glands are already fully developed at birth and work constantly in the heat to keep your baby’s body temperature regulated.
Keeping your baby cool is important- being too hot while sleeping puts your baby at a higher risk of SIDS. And keeping baby cool in a hot car is a real challenge.
Below, you’ll find advice on how to keep baby cool in a car seat. You’ll also find additional information on babies, sweating, and the risks of overheating.
8 Ways to Keep Baby Cool in a Car Seat
#1: Choose a lighter colored car seat
Dark colors (like black and navy blue) draw in more heat from the sun, while white reflects it.
Some parents choose a darker colored car seat because it is harder for your baby to stain. Unfortunately, darker colors also mean that it absorbs more heat in the summer time.
While car seats don’t usually come in an all-white design, you can help cool things down in the summer with a lighter colored seat. As these are easier to stain, you may also want to look for a car seat cover that is easy to remove and wash as well.
#2: Block the sun
Direct sunlight causes cars to get hot fast. One of the best ways to stop this is to block out the sun.
Many parents rely on roller shades to block the heat from their child’s window. Unfortunately, these are a hazard to your infant because they can fly off in a car accident. In addition to blocking sunlight, they also block the driver’s view through that window.
Instead, tinting your rear windows may be the best option. Some even block UV-radiation, which is important for your baby’s sensitive skin. As an added benefit, tinted windows are less likely to shatter in a crash.
For blocking the sun while you’re out of the car, a reflective wind shade is best. Everyone in your family can benefit from this.
#3: Start with a cooler car seat
A freezable cooling mat stays cool for hours and is perfect for keeping your child’s seat cool when they’re not sitting in it.
We recommend the Carats cooling mat for babies. You throw it in the freezer overnight and then unfold it and put it in place once your child gets out of their seat. Once they return, the fabric, seat belts, and other materials are going to be cool instead of too hot. As an added bonus, there are no freezable inserts- the carrying case unfolds and is also the cooling mat.
Something to note is that it is not recommended that you put coolers like this (or anything) between your baby and their car seat. Not only can it affect the safety of an infant car seat in a crash, but it also voids your car seat’s manufacturer’s warranty.
Exposure to a frozen surface on direct skin can also cause freezer burn, even in the heat.
#4: Use your car’s cooling features
At minimum, most newer cars come with air conditioning that can keep the inside of the car a manageable temperature. This is important since having too much air on baby’s face from an open window can make them gasp for air or struggle to breathe properly.
Try pointing air conditioning vents toward the rear of the car to maximize air flow toward your baby.
Having remote start can also be a nice feature during the hot summer months. By starting your car remotely, you can get it going while you finish getting baby ready. Once you climb in the car, it’ll already be cooled off.
Something else you can consider for your car is the Noggle. This is especially beneficial for cars that don’t have a good air flow to the backseat. The Noggle is flexible duct work that you connect to one of the front vents of your car. The cool air travels through the duct and to the backseat. You can even point it directly at your child, which can provide some much-needed relief on those three-digit summer days.
#5: Consider a 3D mesh liner
When you’re shopping for a car seat, it’s important to choose a material that doesn’t trap heat for the summer months.
If your car seat is too hot, consider something like the Agibaby Cool 3D Mesh Cover. This can be used with car seats or strollers and is made from 3D fabric with air holes you can see. This creates a breathable layer between your baby and their car seat.
Some of the best infant car seats also have cooling technology installed.
Britax has options in an infant carrier, convertible car seat, and booster. These are a great choice if you don’t mind spending a little extra for Britax, especially because they are usually up-to-date with the latest safety features. Their Cool Flow design is available for an infant car seat, convertible car seat, and booster seat.
You can read our review on the Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Cool Flow Car Seat here.
#6: Avoid traveling during peak temperatures
Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., your little one has the greatest chance of overheating. These are the hours of the day when the sun is closest.
Not only are they typically the hottest hours, but they are also the time when your little one is at greatest risk for sunburn.
While afternoon traveling cannot always be avoided, try to travel in the morning or at night when possible.
#7: Avoid bundling up
It’s not uncommon for parents to believe babies need to be bundled up to go outside, even if it’s not cold out. This seems to be especially true of older generations (like grandma) who just want to be sure the baby is warm.
Bundling up too much causes excess sweat, especially in the heat. Remember, baby only needs one layer more than you do.
Keep in mind that the head and feet are the areas where heat leaves the body most efficiently. This means if your baby is wearing a hat in 70-degree weather, they could also struggle with cooling themselves down.
#8: Help your child cool down
Cooling towels are a great accessory for the hotter summer months- for baby, toddlers, and any other member of the family.
Cooling towels are made from materials that quickly evaporate in the heat. This evaporation lets your baby cool down. Just add water, wring out, and lay across your baby’s neck and shoulders or their legs when they are sitting in the car.
Something to pay attention to when shopping is the materials used. Babies are known for chewing on things and you don’t want to give your little one anything dangerous in the backseat of the car. Look for non-toxic materials that are big enough they won’t be a choking hazard.
Another good choice is buying a spray bottle that has a mister setting. Fill this with cool water and spritz it on your baby as needed to help keep them cool.
Some misters also come with small fans attach. While this is a good idea if you are holding your baby and using it on them, keep in mind that most of these have small parts and are a choking hazard for your little one. You should not let them use the fan on their own.
FAQs About Babies, Sweat, and Overheating
Why does my baby sweat so much?
Babies sweat to regulate their temperature.
Even though their tiny bodies are still developing, babies already have fully developed sweat glands on their head and neck. This helps them cool down in the summer, especially since it’s harder for their small bodies to maintain a constant temperature.
In most cases, a baby sweating just means they’re a little too hot and trying to cool off.
Occasionally, it might be a sign of a more serious condition like hyperhidrosis, congenital heart defects, breathing issues, and thyroid problems. If you’re concerned, contact your child’s pediatrician.
Do I need to give my baby water to keep them hydrated in the summer?
You should never give an infant under six months old water.
Babies get all the water they need from either formula or breast milk. Giving water instead of breast milk fills their tummy without giving them any nutrients. Additionally, too much water can lead to water intoxication. This is a condition that can cause seizures.
At six months of age, you can begin giving your baby up to two servings of 8 ounces of water per day.
If you’re outside during a hot time, you may want to give them water in a sippy cup to ensure they stay hydrated. You’ll want to do this when you can monitor baby if they are still learning how to drink from a cup, especially since drinking too fast can cause them to choke.
Giving baby a cool sip of water is another great way to keep baby cool in a car seat, too. Just give them a sip of ice water (if they’re old enough) when you are stopped.
How do I know if my baby is overheating?
The best indicator that your baby is overheating is that their core temperature has risen. Your baby’s ideal internal temperature is between 98 and 100 degrees. If you touch the nape of their neck and it is especially hot, it could be a sign they are overheating.
The presence of an excessive amount of sweat might also mean your baby is overheating. You’ll also want to watch for flushed cheeks, the development of heat rash, or rapid breathing. If you notice these signs, immediately try to cool them off using one of the tips above.
What should I do if my baby is overheating?
The best thing you can do if your baby is overheating is get them cooled down fast.
Take them to a cooler environment if the A/C in your car isn’t functioning properly. Stop at a restaurant dining room for a snack or go somewhere else that has air conditioning.
You could also remove your child’s clothes if they are wearing any. Then, use an evaporating cooling towel or a mister to help them cool down naturally. You could also wipe them down with a cool sponge. Keep in mind that you’ll want this to be cool and not cold because you want to avoid shocking your baby’s system.
How should I dress my baby for the outdoors?
Many recommend dressing your baby in layers when you go out, especially since babies might need a little help staying warm because their bodies are so small. In the summer time, however, too many layers can make it harder for your baby to cool off.
As a general guideline, you want to provide your baby with one more layer than you have.
You will want your child dressed in their car seat, even if it’s only in a onesie. Not only will this protect their sensitive skin from hot parts of the seat, but it will also ensure the seat belt doesn’t rub against them uncomfortably.
The best option is to dress your baby in a light layer of clothing. This provides a little sun protection as well. Sun protection is especially important for younger babies because the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) does not recommend the use of sunscreen on babies less than six months old.
While it may be a challenge to keep them on your baby’s face, sunglasses that provide UV-protection are also recommended for babies in the summer. If this isn’t practical, be sure you have a sun shade or canopy cover that provides SPF protection while you are out and try to keep your little one’s eyes covered. A lightweight hat with a large brim can also be used to accomplish this.
How hot is too hot for my baby?
There is no official statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding babies and how they respond to heat.
As a general rule for babies (and adults), the body starts struggling with maintaining a cool temperature when the outside environment reaches 80 degrees.
If you must travel in the car during this time, be sure your vehicle’s air conditioning works and that you’ve taken measures to keep your little one cool. If you are traveling for a long time, stop frequently and check on your little one to be sure they are not overheating in their car seat.
You’ll also want to apply this rule when you go to the beach or outdoors with your baby. Keep them out of direct sunlight and monitor their temperature when it’s hot outside. You can use a damp wash cloth, mister bottle, cooling towel, or one of the other methods mentioned above to be sure they stay cool.
How does overheating increase the risk of SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a condition where babies suddenly die while they are sleeping.
While there is no single specific cause, many things have been identified as putting your baby at higher risk. This includes things like improper sleep safety, smoking in the home, and overheating.
When your baby overheats, it causes them to fall in a deeper slumber. This means they may not wake up as easily if there is a problem or they stop breathing.
What are the signs of heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion can happen before heat stroke. It’s important to recognize the signs because it often signals that your baby has had enough heat.
The most noticeable sign might be your little one’s crankiness. Being too hot can cause them to become crank and lethargic. You might also have trouble waking them for feeding.
If you don’t get your baby out of the sun, severe heat exhaustion causes symptoms like increased lethargy and vomiting. You’ll also notice your baby’s skin looks and feels as if it is drying out. Once they reach heat exhaustion, they also may have a higher temperature when taken rectally.
If you notice any of these more severe symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
How can I treat heat rash?
Another reason you’ll want to keep your baby cool is to prevent summer heat rash, which usually appears as reddened skin with small bumps.
Heat rash is especially common in babies. Their small pores can become clogged easily, which is the main cause of heat rash.
In some cases, heat rash can easily be treated by cooling off the area. Once the area cools, it disappears. If you don’t notice it in time, heat rash can cause the skin to become dry, irritated, and even itchy. Take the time to cool the skin and let it air dry. You should avoid applying any ointments or creams unless instructed to by your doctor. Finally, be sure to try and keep your little one from scratching the irritated skin.
If heat rash happens frequently, your baby is too hot. Dress them in fewer layers of clothing and take some of the steps mentioned above to help keep them cool.
Learning how to keep baby cool in a car seat is important for beating the summer heat. Keeping your little one a comfortable temperature reduces the risk of heat rash, heat exhaustion, SIDS, and other complications that can arise from being too hot.
With a little planning ahead and lots of TLC, you’ll be able to keep your little one cool when it’s hot.