C.S. asks from San Francisco, CA on July 25, 2008
Traveling to India with a 9 Month Old?
We are invited to a wedding in the South of India (Kochi) in December. Our daughter will be only 9 month by than. Does anybody has experience traveling in this area with a young baby like ours? I am not worried about the traveling more so all the health issues, shoots and so for...
1 mom found this helpful
S.K. answers from San Francisco on July 27, 2008
Are you breastfeeding her? The best possible situation for an infant traveling abroad is breastfeeding because food is always available and your antibodies will assist her immune system. I was not able to breastfeed, however, and our daughter was ok with formula made from water boiled 5 minutes minimum and eating "safe" foods like rice and bananas. Talk to your pediatrician about getting some vaccinations early. Some will do it but there are some concerns about early vaccinations for such young babies. Wash her and your hands often and don't let her crawl around on the floor too much. It helps if she is not hooked on a pacifier since they often fall down and you will have to have about a hundred of them. Kochi is the city in the state of Kerala formerly known as Cochin. Kerala is less populated than other areas in India and have some strict regulations about environment, development etc, and you can trust the boiled water (or "jeerikavellam" water boiled with cumin which slightly alters taste but colours the water so you know it's really boiled.)(Mumbai is another story. My cousin got sick even from filtered boiled water and he lives there, so now he only drinks bottled.) Sodas are ok but make sure no one ever gives you ice. Bisleri is the best bottled water. We have heard Evian is ok but other people have occasionally run into a problem with it. Our family only uses Bisleri. Juices are ok for adults as are fruits, but with young babies we avoided uncooked foods. Once the kids pass 2 or 3 they seem ok with most things. The milk in India sometimes needs to be boiled, but you probably won't be giving her milk anyway. Malaria is fairly uncommon in the far south like Kerala but it is probably a good idea to still apply insect repellents. I liked one by OFF for families that smelled nice and contained a lower concentration of DEET. Just make sure she doesn't have it on her hands or feet. You probably don't need malaria prophylaxis though since it's rare in Kerala. If you do choose it, beware of side effects. I had some for when I was in Mumbai and I got horrible mouth sores. December is a cooler time of year in India (like summer in CA, around the 80s or so) so you can probably dress her in light cotton clothes that cover most of her without her getting too hot. Just make sure the cotton is very thin. Keep her in the shade or under a fan, and bring a light blanket or sweater for her to wear in AC halls. Huggies are available there now too, but we brought some. You are most likely to find them at Big Bazaar. Make sure to tell your airline that you have an infant and would like a bassinet. You will be set up with the bulkhead that has a lot more space and she can sleep in the bassinet (if you can get her to sleep) while you sleep in the seat. We have had great experiences with Singapore Air since they fly straight from SFO to Singapore and then you take their subsidiary jet SilkAir into Kerala. Try not to fly to a bigger city like Bombay or Madras because the domestic checked bag and carry-on rules differ from international and you will be stuck with extra fees if you go to Madras (Chennai) and then take Air India to Kochi with all the extra luggage. Like Marla said, bring toilet paper. The TP in India is scratchy. My father in law walks around with a big bottle of hand sanitizer and sanitized the kids every 10 minutes :P. Also you should keep a small towel or 2 in your diaper bag as well as a soap. Instead of a liquid soap that may leak, I kept a small travel size bar of solid soap. Dove is gentle on babies and in some hotels in India you can get a really nice tiny bar of sandalwood soap which is surprisingly gentle on them and smells nice. Also brush your teeth with boiled water. Get your visa NOW. Another reason to fly directly from Singapore to Trivandrum or Kochi is that the people in the airport are much less likely to hassle you about your electronics. We had to bribe someone to let us bring our videocamera into Mumbai but in Trivandrum they just let you through. If you have someone with you who speaks Malayalam it is extra helpful but at least make sure someone can get you at the airport. Go to the bathroom on the plane right before it lands. You do not want to use the airport restroom. Also, like Marla said, no playing in the sand or going in the water. The Arabian Sea has strong riptides (I lost an uncle that way) and the sand at the parks and beaches can harbor germs we are not used to. My aunt won't let our kids touch anything there usually. The cats and dogs in India are not friendly and should not be petted. The birds are unbelievable though, and keep a keen eye on the vegetation. Some of the birds are hard to see but beautiful. Also look for some interesting food plants. Kerala is like a living produce section and it's neat to see how the food that you eat is growing right there. The banana trees are especially easy to spot. People are probably going to stare at you but staring doesn't have the cultural implications that it does here. If you feel uncomfortable turn or walk away and find someone you know that you can talk to. Men and women don't often look each other in the eye, but that is changing. If hot food is a problem for you, dosha, idli, pal appam, and idiyappam are made of rice and very plain. Ask that the sambar, "stew", or chutneys they are served with be made without chilies. Aviyal is a vegetable dish that can be made mild and is healthy. Many kitcharees and olans are also mild. Thoren can be spicy but parip, a kind of lentil dish, is very mild. There are also a great variety of crunchy snacks. If you like hot food you are ok but cool your stomach with yogurt afterward. Hope this helps. We've taken both kids to India now and plan to go every 2 years and enjoy it. Best of luck and have fun!
2 moms found this helpful
L.S. answers from Stockton on July 26, 2008
I think she is very small to travel that far and to India. The shots are what worries me the most, since my son got autism from them. Too many viruses, live ones, lots of animal tissue, dangerous cocktails, and toxic heavy metals and way too much toxins in them.
go to: www.generationrescue.com and check out the info about vaccines (too many, way too soon!).
If you decide to go, take tons of probiotics for everybody, especially for the baby. the best ones at: www.springboard4health.com they are called: Russian choice immune (provide enough daily - to prevent disease - strange viruses and bacteria). But there are other good brands out there too.
H.B. answers from Detroit on July 26, 2008
Hi C. - My best advice is to DEFINITELY buy your little one a seat. I know it's more expensive, but the extra space will be needed, especially on such a long trip. Your little girl will likely be crawling by then, and she won't want to be held for that long. Best of luck to you!!
S.A. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2008
This is a bad idea!! You need to talk to your pediatrician, who I am sure will advise you to leave your baby at home! I'm not even sure you can vaccinate such a young infant against all the things you might encounter on such a trip. In addition, how will you cope with a jet-lagged infant in strange surroundings? Best to leave your baby with a trusted relative here at home, or skip the trip entirely. If you do go with your husband, please fly on separate planes!
C.M. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2008
I would not go, and I am sure the bride and groom would understand. The reason being your are putting your child at risk for infection. I am in no means a promoter of vaccination (but that is another issue), however when it comes to traveling outside the US I am. I would consult with your pediatrician before booking your flight.
J.H. answers from Sacramento on August 05, 2008
We went camping on a cold windy beach with our 6 mo. old. I don't think I'd ever do that again. We've tried a lot of other crazy stuff similar to what you are doing, but I don't think I'd do it again either...more fun being in our own hometown at that age.
If you really need to go, I would recommend staying at a 5 star hotel where you are less likely to get food poisoning (moms can't get sick). If you can't afford a 5 star rating, I would highly recommend asking the hotel clerk what their #1 and #2 rated brand of bottled water are...the ones you would see in ads in India. Larger more famous companies generally need to hold up a reputation. Same with food chains which need to hold up a reputation.
Imported water from the US may or may not be tainted. Some have been sitting in warehouses/distribution centers/stores way past their expiration. What's worse is that some locals reuse Crystal Geyser bottles by pouring in local water, knowing that they will profit from it.
I've been assuming that you will be traveling with your husband or with someone who will help out. That's the only way it will work out. If not, you will find a really hard time squatting over many of their bug infested toilets (more like holes in the ground) with fecal matter all over the floors...all while holding a baby.
Almost forgot about the toilet paper...you will need to bring your own. The restrooms rarely have any. The people there don't wash their hands either, so they have no need for soap, water, or paper towels either.
M.Z. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2008
I was actually there about a year ago with my son who was 11, so it was a different situation, but it was really easy to get around there and everyone was super nice and absolutely wonderful. Children go everywhere so the focus on families is completely different than it is here where often we feel like restaurants and other establishments are doing us a favor. But a few suggestions: buy toilet paper when you can, because many restrooms, even in nicer hotels, do not have any. Keep a role in your purse (take out the cardboard tube.) Bring a bottle of liquid soap because while in many places there is a sink in a common area to wash, there is no soap and definitely no towels, and in some places you have to pay an attendant for a piece of paper. Some of the shots will make you feel fluish. Be sure to call about starting the series early. Now is not too soon as some must be completed well in advance of your departure. Get your visa now. Don't wait! This will surprise you: kids do not play in the sand on the beach, and very few people actually go in the water. At least that was our experience. The women who did go in went in their traditional clothing. My son and his friend were digging as kids do, and within a short period of time, 35 men had gathered around to analyze what they were doing. It was fascinating. In the South, the beaches were extremely dirty. You can buy sandals for $1 and later discard them. My son got sick from all the hot food 3x a day (just stomach aches) but after a few days we decided to get him checked just in case. They found nothing wrong, but what was amazing was that we went to the hospital asking to be seen. They were gracious and helpful. He was checked by several people before the doctor and the entire experience was over within 90 minutes, including waiting at the pharmacy. The bill, including an 8oz bottle of antacid and a week's work of pain pills (which he never took), was about $6. My best advice is take lots of hand sanitizing wipes because everything/everyone is hot, sticky, dusty, sweaty. Keep your baby well hydrated. Kid's clothing is dirt cheap, colorful and adorable. Buy ahead for several years. Feel free to contact me for more information! ____@____.com
N.C. answers from Sacramento on July 26, 2008
I would advise against taking a 9 month old to India. Regardless of all the percautions you take, you still can't gaurd against everything. India is not like the U.S. and your daughters immune system is not fully developed. I would leave your daughter with family or decline the invitation. If you still decide to go, talk to your pediatrician and do A LOT of research!! Good luck!!