Keeping your child COOL in the car seat when it is HOT outside

With temperatures reaching 100 degrees in many parts of the US now, many parents are asking “How do I keep my child cool in the car seat while we are driving?  I’m really concerned about my rear-facing child.”

Besides the obvious of using the air conditioning in the car (or rolling down the windows if there is no a/c), here are 6 tips to keep your child cool.  If you have other tips, please leave them in a comment to this post.

1. Keep the car cooler for everyone:

accordian style reflective sunshade

2.  If you are buying a new car seat or a new car, pick a light color for the fabric/interior.

The color of your car’s interior can have a huge impact on how hot your car gets.  This chart below, courtesy of Safe Kids, shows how on a 79 degree day, the vehicle with a light colored interior will stay much cooler than one with a dark colored interior.  


3. Help your child sweat!

Sweating works by cooling you off as the water evaporates off your skin.  Using cool water, wet your child’s hair & exposed skin (and you may even want to wet their shirt somewhat) before putting them in the car seat to help them stay cool in the car.  If you will be going into an air-conditioned space at the end of the car ride, you will want to avoid getting the child’s clothes wet as they may become too cold in the air conditioning.

Toddlers and older children might enjoy holding a spray bottle filled with water that they can use during the car ride to keep cool.  Older kids might like the spray bottles that have fans attached (make sure the child is old enough and trustworthy enough that they won’t try to chew on the fan blades – even though they are soft, they could be a choking hazard).

4.  Keep them cool throughout the car ride with these cooling towels & bandanas

Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel

Note: Cooling towels should only be used OVER the child’s harness straps – never underneath

5. Use a car seat sunshade

Protect-A-Bub car seat sunshade

If you are using an infant carrier, keep the sunshade up while in the car to block some of the sun coming in from the side windows.  For older kids in convertible & combination seats, this Protect-A-Bub car seat sunshade is rated UPF 50+ and will block a lot of the bright sun coming in from the side windows (and for forward facing kids, from the back window too).  It is very soft and flexible – so you don’t have to worry about any hard/sharp parts hurting your child in the event of a crash.

Note: many parents use the roller sun shades that go on the vehicle’s side windows – but these are not recommended as the shade is likely to fly off in a crash, and the hard roller part could seriously injure your child if it hit the child’s head.  Also, anything that is on the window of your car should be transparent enough that you can see through it – if it blocks the driver’s visibility, this is NOT safe.  Tinting your windows is a good alternative – as this also laminates the windows so that should there be a crash the windows will not break into tiny pieces of glass that can fly around the car.


While we are on the topic of hot cars, please remember to NEVER, EVER, EVER leave a child or animal alone in a hot car – even for a minute.  A car can become an oven in just a few minutes on a warm day.  So far nearly 2 dozen children have died in hot cars just this year.  Read what you can do to prevent this from happening to your child:
8 Responses to “Keeping your child COOL in the car seat when it is HOT outside”
  1. kring says:

    These are some great ideas-wouldn’t have thought of some of these. I would also suggest that you look at the fabrics of car seat before purchasing. The “tent-type” wipe-able fabrics I am seeing in a lot of brands (Chicco comes to mind) are not very breathable. Buy as close to cotton as possible!

  2. Susan says:

    I keep a white or light colored receiving blanket in the car. My son’s child care is at my work, so we cover his seat when we go inside. I had my doubts when I first tried it last year, but it really does work. We also leave the windows cracked. I usually start the car and blast the ac before putting him in as well. I never leave the car running unattended in the parking lot though.

  3. Sarah Honey says:

    While the sunshade is a good idea in theory, I would think that especially a rear facing seat, it would block off any potential cold air the AC vents are blowing. I know in my Suburban the rear AC vents are on the ceiling and this shade would totally block any cool air my daughter would be getting.

    • Sarah – I think it will be car dependent whether it blocks the air flow. It is something the parent could try using the sunshade on one car ride and then not on the next and see which ride the child was more comfortable during. Also, the Protect-A-Bub is best for forward facing (not rear-facing) as it will keep the sun from the back window coming onto the child’s head/neck.

  4. Tasha Antoine says:

    Love the idea of the Cold Seat! What an easy way to make sure it’s comfy for the little ones & prevent the buckles from getting too hot!

  5. Nava says:

    We point the front A/C vents up at the ceiling to direct airflow to the back seat; works like a charm in the southern heat. Also, cracking open your back windows a tiny bit will allow a small amount of hot air in that should force the cool air toward the top of the car.

    Also, someone just told me that the frogg toggs are on sale on Amazon: $11.75-$24.19 (with free shipping).

    • Vered M says:

      Thanks for the idea – I never know how to help the a/c get to my RF son – I’ll try both ideas (point the vents up and roll down the back windows a bit) tomorrow. I always feel so bad for him in the back, rear facing, it takes so long for the car to get cold (and sometimes if it’s really hot and/or traffic is very slow, it just doesn’t get cold).


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