Years ago, many new parents would never have dreamed of taking their precious little bundles abroad. Flying around the world with a baby was once reserved for the rich and famous who could afford an army of nannies and luggage. Even as air travel became less exclusive, the threat of mysterious foreign germs, strange foods and sun burn was enough to keep many parents at home until the baby was at least school age!
Thankfully, most modern parents realise that holiday destinations such as the Costa del Sol are very family orientated, and with so many home comforts close at hand, things can be as similar or as different from the normal routine as you choose!
Baby essentials such as nappies, formula milk and weaning foods can be found fairly easily in one of the many supermarkets or pharmacies in the Malaga area, although many have slightly different brand names or recipes, and prices vary widely between shops.
Formula milk can be much more expensive than in the UK, and the ready-made mixtures are not as easy to come across. UK brands such as Hipp and Aptamil can be found in the Hipercor chains, whilst Spanish brands such as Nestle Nidina and Hero are much more widely available. If you’re not sure you can always contact the manufacturer of your baby’s milk and ask what their product name is in Spain. If you’re lucky enough to find your usual brand, bear in mind that the formula might be slightly different, and if your baby is particularly sensitive to changes in their milk, then err on the side of caution and bring some from home.
Don’t forget any sterilising equipment (cold water tablets and microwave bags are great portable options) and make sure to use low-sodium bottled water to make up feeds and to drink. Most baby-friendly water brands feature a baby or bottle symbol on them, but if you can’t see that, check the mineral analysis for ‘Na’ or ‘Sodio’ – this should be as low as possible and absolutely lower than 19. In general, the water in Malaga is safe to drink, however as the mineral mixture is different, this can cause mild stomach upsets in little ones.
You’ll also notice a difference in the pre-made baby food available, reflecting a different approach to weaning babies. In the UK, ‘textured’ food is labelled as appropriate for 7 month olds, with larger lumps and semi-solids suitable for 12 month olds. In Spain, weaning food is of a pureed consistency until 12 months, when solids start to appear. Pre-made foods above this age are few and far between. Flavours are much simpler than in the UK, however if your older baby is adventurous, tapas makes great finger foods, and the many local markets are full of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables if you can make your own.
If you’re eating out, most restaurants are very welcoming of younger guests, but consider that meal times are usually later than in the UK, which can play havoc if you’re trying to keep a familiar routine in place.
Dodots (and don’ts)
Pampers nappies are called ‘Dodots’ in Spain, and are available in nearly every supermarket. But just like in the UK, they are the most expensive brand around and many store own-brands are cheaper and just as good. Swim nappies are also readily available as many resorts (and the many waterparks in the area) won’t allow children in the pool without appropriate protection. Make sure you have plenty of nappy bags or similar with you to dispose of these securely. As you know, the heat can make any rubbish smell very quickly – even with regular collections – attracting flies and many other unwanted nasties!
Baby Faces and Tender Places
It’s lovely to see babies out enjoying the sunshine, or playing on one of the many beautiful beaches on the Costas, but as we all know, children’s skin is much more sensitive and we should be extra careful with sun protection.
Babies under 6 months should be out of direct sunlight altogether, and older babies should be covered in cool, lose clothing, high factor sunscreen and a suitable wide-brimmed hat (we know, easier said than done!). In fact, it’s recommended that children wear hats and sun lotion even if you’re travelling to Malaga out of the summer season to protect them from higher UV exposure than they’re used to at home. Make sure to apply sunscreen regularly (especially after swimming and towelling) and if your little one is a water baby, pay extra attention to their face, neck and shoulders – areas that are more likely to be burnt whilst in the water.
Sunglasses are a must for older children, and always make sure they are out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (12am-4pm). Perfect timing for a siesta!
Read the next part of our guide to Travelling with Children, where we’ll be looking at how to keep children safe and well whilst enjoying your summer holiday in Malaga!