As the nation is gripped by a heatwave, parents will no doubt be doing their best to keep their little ones cool and comfortable.

Babies and toddlers struggle to regulate their own temperatures, so ensuring they don't overheat is crucial to reducing the risk of heat stroke and even sudden infant death syndrome.

But parents are being urged not to follow the misconception that blocking the sun with a blanket or muslin to shade them is a safe option.

Instead, a paper published by researchers in Sweden has revealed that draping something over the top of a pushchair or pram - even the lightest of materials - can have devastating consequences, our sister paper The Daily Post reports.

Svante Norgren, a pediatrician at Astrid Lindgren children’s hospital in Stockholm explained: “It gets extremely hot down in the pram, something like a thermos.

“There is also bad circulation of the air and it is hard to see the baby with a cover over the pram.”

A study showed that by draping a cover over the pram can create a greenhouse effect. By recreating the conditions on a warm day, the study saw that the temperature inside the pram rose from 22C to 34C after just 30 minutes under cover.

After an hour, the the heat rose dramatically to a sweltering 37C - dangerously hot for a young child.

And when covered, ventilation inside the pram is also largely reduced, limiting access to fresh air.

This study was mirrored by a video from Norwegian broadcaster TV2 earlier this year which showed a pram covered with a thin blanket reached over 37C after just 20 minutes of being draped over it.

As babies are unable to regulate their body temperature efficiently, the risks involved with overheating are much more severe than in adults - and can even make an infant stop breathing.

Janet Fyle, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives warns parents to take precautions during warm weather: “In this hot weather, it is important that parents are aware of the simple precautions they can take to protect their babies from becoming overheated or exposed to direct sunlight,

‘Do not use a blanket to cover the baby because, apart from the possibility of overheating the baby, there is limited visibility for you to observe your child.”

Instead, parents of babies and toddlers are advised to use a parasol which can attach to the pram, or invest in a push chair with a large hood which can provide both shade and ventilation.

There are many ways to avoid overheating in young children, including

  • Keep them covered in lightweight and light coloured clothing
  • Ensure they wear a wide brim sun hat
  • Make sure they are covered in a high SPF suncream
  • Keep them hydrated - breastfeed as needed, or if bottle fed, they can have cooled boiled water on top of their usual feeds
  • If they’re over six months old, you can be more creative with upping fluid intake, with diluted fruit juice, ice lollies, ice cubes and lots of fruit and/or salad.
  • Keep them in the shade wherever possible
  • Avoid going outdoors at the hottest times of the day (usually between 11am and 3pm)
  • Always keep their faces uncovered