Mummy, mummy, Miss J doesn’t have her sun hat on! – JD, 4
When I started writing this feature the sun was blazing, but it seems to have taken a vacation this month as we’re treated to day after day of pouring rain.
Ever the optimist (and having seen a few precious rain-free hours today) I’m ploughing ahead in the firm belief that the sun will return to give us a glorious summer to remember. So here are ten things to have in your bag when you venture out, so that you and your family can enjoy the summer safely.
Splintered tree trunks at the park, rough gravel on the path, sharp plastic buried in the sand – cuts happen, so it’s a good idea to pack some plasters, or even lots of plasters. One Careplast Plasters (£1.39) come in fun animal print designs to help turn tears into smiles and best of all, and 100% of their profits are donated to fund bicycle ambulances and community medical boxes in Africa.
Antibacterial wipes for eating surfaces
We can’t wipe every surface our children touch and play on – and why would we want to?! – but cafe high chairs, restaurant tables and dropped teething toys are often a little less clean than we’d want them to be before letting our children eat off or chew on them. Milton Antibacterial Surface Wipes (£1.99) do just what you’d expect and are handy to have in your bag, if only to put your mind at rest.
We’ve been caught on with this one before. You set out with the soft morning light streaming gently through the windows, but by the time you’re on your way, the sun has shifted in the sky, the clouds have burned off, and with an hour still to drive, you’re facing the sun blazing angrily in through the passenger windows. We like the Brica Stretch Shade (£15) because it covers most of the window, keeping the sun off little faces whatever you drive.
To keep the kids safe in the sun and free from burns, you’re going to need some sun lotion – it is, after all, the most obvious of sun essential. You can use the same lotion you use on your own skin, of course, but it might not be kind to delicate skin. Johnson’s SunCare Baby and Kids range is special formulated for young skin and contains vitamin E and moisturisers to combined with SPF 50+ sun protection.
If you suffer from hay fever, you’ll know that pollen is one of the biggest causes of irritation, but you can’t walk around with your nose buried in a tissue – believe me, I have tried! And if, like me, you’re breastfeeding, you won’t be able to take oral antihistamines. HayMax Pollen Balm (£6.99) is a very clever solution which is applied at the base of the nostrils and works by stopping pollen getting in. Genius.
Since we became a family of four it seems that rarely a week goes by without at least one of us getting the sniffles. I carry a bottle of Sterimar Baby nasal spray (£4.07) in my handbag because it’s totally natural (made simply from sanitised sea water), is suitable from birth and helps clear blocked noses. It’s also amazing if you’re suffering from that horrible itchy, stuffy nose feeling that comes with hay fever.
I think I must be delicious. At least, insects seem to think so – why else would they bite me so much? In seriousness, though, JD and I are particularly sensitive to insect bites. Where children are concerned (and since I’m breastfeeding) I prefer to use natural repellants where possible, but if you’re looking for something stronger, Ultrathon (£8.29) offers 12 hour protection from biting insects yet doesn’t have a high content of the active chemical.
If you’re out walking all day with the kids, what seems like a perfectly managable handbag at the start of the day can grow to feel incredibly heavy as it digs into your tired shoulders. Supergoop ‘sun wipes’ are expensive (£20) but handy, expecially if you have a wriggly toddler or a little on who hates cream or a changing bag that has a habit of emptying bottles into the lining.
You can slather your little ones in suncream but sometimes it’s hard to tell if they are truly protected. Are they covered evenly? Did you put enough on? Has it worn off? And what if they go swimming? We love the UV protective swimwear from Platypus Australia which (as well as looking funky) provides a UPF 50+ rating to block out at least 97.5% of harmful ultraviolet radiation for babies up to children aged 14.
Babies on the beach are particularly exposed to the sun. Often there’s no shade and they’re likely to be in little if any clothing. Cuddledry (who you probably already know from the famous hooded towels) have developed SPF50+ Poncho Towels (£27.99). They’re made from a special material which acts like a mirror, deflecting the harmful UVA and UVB rays off the towel.
And some extras…
Don’t forget to pack plenty of citrus fruit and put a healthy layer of tomatoes in your sandwiches. Why? According to Dr Rachel Haywood BSc (Hons) PhD, postdoctoral scientist at leading wound healing charity RAFT, “consumption of foods which contain antioxidants (fruit and vegetables as part of the recommended 5-a-day diet) will help the body maintain its ability to protect against the free radical damage caused by sunlight. Examples are oranges and citrus fruits which are high in vitamin C, and lycopenes which are found in tomatoes and have been shown to offer protection against sunlight damage.”
If you fancy swotting up with more tips to help you stay safe with your family this summer, you can download Need2Know ebooks Travelling with children: a parent’s guide and Skin Cancer and Sun Safety: The Essential Guide for £3.99 each and get many more handy tips for enjoying the holidays safely.
Disclosure: I received some but not all of these products free-of-charge for the purposes of this review. I am also a Sterimar Baby ambassador, which involves a fee. No other payments were received. All posts are 100% honest.