Summer is here and with it comes a steady stream of stories about babies and children being left in cars with tragic consequences. But another overheating danger is rarely discussed:. Babies overheating in strollers. It is a common sight to see a parent pushing a stroller, with a thin blanket or towel draped over to protect the child from the sun.
Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet decided to run an experiment to find out just how it could get inside the stroller. They left a stroller out in the sun (without baby, naturally) between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on a hot day, initially without a covering blanket. The temperature inside the stroller reached 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 Fahrenheit). A thin blanket was then placed over the stroller for the following 30 minutes, after which the temperature soared to 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit). After an hour, the temperature was up to 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
This experiment was done without the added heat of baby’s own body temperature increasing the temperature. Instead of protecting the baby from the sun, the parent is inadvertently increasing the danger to the baby. Depending on the design of the stroller, the air circulation may not be the best. Add the increase in temperature and baby can become overheated. Overheating also increases the risk for SIDS.
Two months after our daughter died, I walked into my first support group for bereaved parents. I remember thinking that all the people there looked so normal. I’m not sure what I expected, but at the time, I believed that having your baby die happened to “Other People”. Not people who looked like me. I have not idea how I expected the other bereaved parents to look, but different…
As I listened to the others tell their heart breaking stories, I remember thinking: “This is NOT going to be me. I’m not going to be sitting in this meeting 5 years from now still crying about my dead child.” I was going to approach this grief thing just as I had the rest of my life. Give me a book to read. Send me to a therapist. Tell me the steps that I needed to take. I’d follow every piece of advice and I would get OVER this horrible pain…quickly.
I was so naive and so judgmental back then. At first, I would comfort myself that THEIR pain was bigger than my pain. It was the only explanation that I could find that years after their babies’ deaths they were still devastated. As time went on and I continued to attend the support group, I revised my original hypothesis. No, MY pain was definitely bigger than their pain.
It took me a very long time to come to the realization that there was more than enough pain to go around and that we all had more pain and sadness than we could bear. It was only by banding together and sharing our pain that we made life more bearable.
After eight years of attending the group every month, I began facilitating that same group. I began to introduce myself to newly bereaved parents as “the long view”. Today, my daughter would have been 23 years old. I am still the long view.
Here are a few of the hard learned lessons that I have learned:
- I have very little control over the events of my life, but I do control the grace and dignity with which I respond to those events.
- I have to grow my dead child just as I grow my live children. My dead child still has birthdays, milestones and anniversaries.
- The pain of having a child die never goes away. We learn to live with it and we learn to cope. We rediscover hope.
- I am still her parent. As her parent, I will never stop loving her and I will never forget her.
Time does not automatically heal all. I had to put in the hard work. I had to cry. I had to rant. I had to learn that life is not always fair and that I am not entitled to a pain-free, perfect life. As time went on, my family and I round a new normal. We found hope. We found the courage to have another baby. We found the strength to move forward.
I learned to carry my daughter in my heart rather than in my arms. I learned how to look for the gifts that she gave to me if only I would open my eyes to acknowledge them.
My life has been so unbelievably enriched by the experience. Of course, I’d prefer that my baby had lived, but all in all, I’m happy. I have hope. I am a survivor. I am strong and capable. And, I’d like to believe that my daughter has taught me how to live in grace and dignity and perhaps to be a little less judgmental. After 23 years, I am your long view.
Today I am remembering my own personal guardian angel, my sister Becky. She died 22 years ago today, when I was 4. I’m having a particularly tough time this year, and I’m not entirely sure why. My mother says it’s because I’m only just starting to comprehend this with my adult brain.
Part of me thinks that is ridiculous. I remember my sister with vivid detail, and this isn’t something that I woke up with when my frontal lobe was fully formed. I remember my grandmother holding Becky at my 4th birthday party, and—in my typical 4 year old way—I decided it was time for a musical interlude. I serenaded Becky with some absolutely preposterous song that had no tune or real story because while I sang, her eyes never left my face and she smiled at me while I did. Baby sisters make the best audience.
So it’s not as if I don’t remember my sister or didn’t understand that “dying” meant I would never see her again. I knew that. I was angry about it. I knew it meant my parents were sad. I knew it made my dad cry, something I had never seen before. I also knew it was wrong; my baby sister wasn’t supposed to die. That’s not how things worked.
But at the same time, there are things I didn’t understand. The day after she died was Halloween, and my mom said I begged her to take me trick-or-treating. One of my aunts took me to my preschool Halloween party because I refused to miss it. I was still 4 and couldn’t miss the chance to dress up.
Years later, I would get so frustrated with my parents. Fall is my favorite season, and I take any opportunity to decorate the house, but my mom never wanted to get out the fall/Halloween decorations. In my narrow teenage mind, I thought it was because my mom doesn’t have any Martha Stewart home décor skills (she doesn’t). Now I look back and wonder how I could be so completely blind.
I understood from a child’s perspective, but now I can identify with my parents. I watch my friends balloon up with their own little bundles of joy and it’s such an incredible (and weird!) process. One of my friends lets me touch her adorable little baby bump all I want, and I just keep touching it. How fascinating to grow a human inside of you. I have no idea how my parents woke up in the morning or kept breathing. I worry about my future children and my friends’ children too.
It’s weird to have a child’s grief inside of me as well as an adult’s grief. I miss my sister for the baby that she was, smiling at my stupid songs, and for what she should have been, my friend and my enemy and my confidant and helping me torture our youngest sister. As an adult, I’m not sure how I feel about heaven, but I will never shake the thought of heaven as a tea party, covered in pink teacups, balloons, and cakes, completely a 4 year old’s vision of what the perfect world would be.
I very rarely dream of Becky, but when I did, she was always a playmate, a fellow child. Last summer, I dreamed of Becky how she was before she died, a small, warm body with those dark blue eyes. I was an adult and held her in her old room, rocking her to sleep. I woke up crying but happy. It’s weird… this child’s memory mixed with now-grown emotions.
So while 22 years isn’t a milestone or a particularly special year, I’m having a rough time. I think as adults we are somewhat dismissive of children’s memories and feelings because they are so fluid. The stories they tell show us exactly how they remember events, and we giggle more often than not because it’s a very different event than we remember. Their emotions swing so quickly; one moment they are losing their minds and the next they are playing happily. But I remember dropping barbies on the ground when we heard the sirens. I remember seeing my parents cry. I remember seeing my cousins lined up at the end of my Nana’s bed as she led them in prayer for Becky. And now, as an adult, I try to just remember my sister.
Parents and Caregivers have many ways to combat their concerns for SIDS
(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and sleep related infant deaths. As research progresses and we get nearer to finding the mechanical cause of sudden death in apparently healthy babies, we have identified many behaviors that parents and caregivers can use that dramatically reduce the likelihood of a sleep related infant death.
Patents can now feel empowered rather than frightened. Remember to keep your babies safety first.
|1: Back to sleep for every sleep2: Use a firm sleep surface
3: Room sharing without bed-sharing
4: No soft objects, loose bedding in crib
5: Prenatal care for pregnant women
6: Avoid smoke exposure
7: Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use
10: Avoid overheating
|11: Immunizations12: Avoid commercial devices marketed for SIDS reduction
13: No home cardiorespiratory monitors for SIDS reduction
14: Tummy time for awake infant
15: Endorsement of recommendations by providers, nurses, child care
16: Media and manufacturers follow safe sleep guidelines
17: National campaign on reducing all sleep related deaths, focus on minorities
18: Research and surveillance
Infant swings, cradle swings and travel swings are all included in the new safety standards issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Swings are stationary juvenile products with a frame and powered mechanism that enables an infant to swing in a seated position. An infant swing is intended for use with infants from birth until a child is able to sit up unassisted.
The new federal standard requires:
- a stronger, more explicit warning label to prevent slump-over deaths. The warning advises consumers to use a swing in the most reclined position until an infant is 4 months old and can hold up its head without help;
- the cradle swing surface to remain relatively flat, while in motion, and while at rest;
- electrically-powered swings to be designed to prevent battery leakage and overheating.;
- toy mobiles to be designed to ensure that toys do not detach when pulled;
- swings with seats angles greater than 50 degrees to have shoulder strap restraints; and
- a stability test that prevents the swing from tipping over;
- a test that prevents unintentional folding;
- tests on restraint systems, which are intended to prevent slippage and breakage of the restraints during use;
- dynamic and static load requirements to ensure that the infant swing can handle specified loads without breaking.
These new requirements will become mandatory on all swings manufactured after May 7, 2013.
Parents are encouraged to place the infant in the most reclined position available on their particular swing until the infant is able to hold his/her self up. Do not use any blankets or other products to prop the baby in the swing (as shown in the picture).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and their tummies to play as part of a daily routine. Just a few minutes a day, a few times a day, can help your baby get used to Tummy Time and help prevent early motor delays. If you begin early (even from just a few days old) and maintain a consistent schedule, your baby will learn to love Tummy Time. This helps develop the muscles in their back, neck, and trunk, on their way to meeting all their infant development milestones.
Tummy Time should begin from the time baby is brought home from the hospital. Try these simple tasks:
Create a habit of alternating baby’s position (not location) at least every 20 minutes when baby is awake.
Carry baby in arms rather than in a car seat. Sometimes use the “foot ball” hold and carry baby tummy side down.
When changing baby’s diaper, flip him over onto his tummy for 30 seconds to one minute.
Place baby on his tummy on your lap to burp or soothe. A hand on his bottom will help to keep him steady.
If bottle feeding, alternate arms to create a more natural hold for baby.
When you are awake and alert, lie down and place baby on your tummy or chest. Until baby can lift her head, alternate her head position for her. Make sure you keep your hands on baby at all times.
Get down on the floor at eye level with baby. Be sure to position yourself in different locations around baby to encourage head turning.
Babies don’t always like Tummy Time in the beginning because they have no ability to lift their heads. However, if you are consistent about doing Tummy Time for short periods all throughout the day, every day, baby will learn to love it!
For additional information on Tummy Time activites and Infant development. See www.Pathways.org.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned parents and caregivers about using a sling for infants younger than 4 months of age, preemies and twins.
Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling’s fabric can press against an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate.
CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.
Cultures throughout the world carry babies in slings but correct positioning is crucial. Follow these simple guidelines:
- Always be able to see your baby’s face.
- Nose and Mouth should be clear.
- Baby’s chin should be up.
When baby is in a sling, baby shares your body heat and has the additional covering of the sling. Make certain that baby is not too warm. His or her head should be uncovered.
Enjoy having your baby close!