When we first decided to take Maks for a long, foreign trip, all his grandmothers got terrified while our friends must have thought that we were mad. But no one could beat my grandmother. She visited me and tiny Maks when the community midwife was at our place checking how the 2-month old one is doing. She couldn’t waste such an occasion and immediately said to the midwife :“Do you know that THEY’RE planning to take this LITTLE ONE on a CAR TRIP around EUROPE?? Tell them, they can’t!” … The midwife responded that it’s a great idea, and we should go. That’s how the discussion ended before it really started… And we left!
Maks was 2,5 months old when we jumped into the car with a plan to drive around Europe… through Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and back to Poland through the south. And it was in the south where the biggest difficulties that everybody feared, emerged: August and hot Andalusian or Catalonian sun. Heat, sultriness, scorcher and a delicate skin of a 2,5-month old „How will he survive this heat? Do you apply sunscreen? Don’t let him get burned!” I had to answer such questions at least once a day. Maks didn’t return sunburnt nor had a sunstroke. He didn’t even get much of a tan. I have to admit, he had some prickly heat on his belly for a few days, but it disappeared as rapidly as it emerged. And he was used to sun from the very start – he was born on 1st June which was quite a hot and sultry day…
He also didn’t burn in Mexico where we lived almost on the beach on Yucatan, in sunny Thailand, on the beach in Krabi, while sightseeing in Bangkok, in August on Malta and Gozo or even in the steamy Cambodia. He also returned from Crete on Saturday – with no burns, but with some colour this time. Therefore we can say that we tested it ourselves (or rather Maks did :)) that there are no places where you can’t go with a child because it’s too hot or too sunny. You can go everywhere (unless you have a child with very sensitive skin), just be reasonable! We have a few rules, we always follow:
1) SHADE IS YOUR FRIEND
If you travel with a stationary infant, you don’t have to worry about the burns. Hide him in the pram, under a beach umbrella, under the tree and he will calmly sit/lie in the shade, while you sunbathe next to him, on the blanket in the sun (I know it’s not too healthy, but for us, there’s no vacation without sunbathing!:)). When we go for a walk, we have a parasol or a veil made from diapers (I never managed to attach the parasol correctly!)
It’s more difficult with a little one that already moves, runs away and generally has his own idea of spending time on the beach. Make him sit in the shade while there’s so much going on? Difficult! But still, try to keep him in the shade with some cool breeze as long as you can, let him cool down in the water (even if the water does not protect from the sun, it prevents overheating).
Try to avoid the sun in the hottest hours (11an – 3 pm) – plan some moving around then if you’re travelling by car or have lunch and ice cream. Avoid playgrounds since there’s rarely any shade on them and most of them are unusable anyway. A steaming hot slide? No thanks! 🙂
On hot days, we never go to the beach without essentials such as sunscreen and a cap/headscarf.
We always have some sunscreen with UV filter both for us and for Maks. We usually buy 8 or 10 factor for us but always a 50 for Maks! Supposedly children below the age of 3 should always use sunscreen with 50 factor designed for their fragile skin. We apply it on the back, arms, face, belly and tips of the ears:)
It’s best to apply it before leaving home/hotel and then, after a while, add more layers, even if the label says the sunscreen is water resistant. Water resistance doesn’t mean it stays on for 8 hours! Don’t get to crazy about it either: don’t chase your kid with a tube of sunscreen in your hand every 15-20 minutes! On our last vacation, we treated Maks with sunscreen 2-3 times a day and it was enough for him to play around on the beach on Crete and not get any sunburns or other sun-related problems!
I know that many people who have children with sensitive skin use special shirts that are swimming-friendly and look a bit like surfer’s clothes! If you’re not sure about your little one’s skin, consider buying one of those.
3) TIME OF PLAY. ADJUST TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES…
Before I had a child I was fascinated by south European countries where playgrounds were absolutely crowded at 10 pm! In Greece, Spain, Italy or Malta kids played happily while in Poland at the same time, most of them were already asleep o getting ready for bedtime. If you think about the temperature and the sun, such crowds on playgrounds at late ours turn out to be quite logical! Therefore, while you’re on vacation, forget about taking the kid for bath at 7 or 8 pm and putting him to sleep at 9 pm. Adjust to the circumstances and to locals’ rhythm of life! The playground is going to be pleasantly cool at 10 pm and the kid will quickly fall asleep, being tired from the late fun 😉
After many trips and hours spent in the sun and heat, we know one thing: the sun itself isn’t that dangerous and should not keep you indoors all the time. You just have to be reasonable. We suppose that there are no places that are too hot for a child. I keep telling this my mom: children live everywhere!
In the summer, it’s best to apply NIVEA cosmetics – we have been using them for ages! 🙂 Why is it the best idea? Because when you buy NIVEA cosmetics for at least PLN 20, you can win some attractive prizes! Vouchers worth PLN 10 000 for family vacation for instance! Also, cameras and cosmetics. All the details are on www.nivea.pl. 🙂
*the entry was written in cooperation with