Things that USED to Worry Me About Traveling with a Baby
Pete asked me if I’d like to write a blogpost and I said “Sure, why not”. I thought of what topic to write about and I decided to answer the question so many people ask us, that is, “What is it like to travel with a baby?”. In order to best answer this question I thought I would tell you about the things that used to worry me about traveling with a baby, but don’t anymore…
1. How do we keep our baby alive?
In the U.S we are very good at protecting our young ones from everything. We baby proof our surroundings and take our babies to regular check-ups. This is a good thing. But what do you do when you take the baby out of the baby-proofed surrounding and your pediatrician is not around the corner? Well, here’s the thing, all the places we are traveling to other people call home. Off course there are preparations to be made, but if locals can survive there, so can we.
The first thing we did was to make sure that Freya received the appropriate immunizations for our upcoming destinations. A good suggestions is to educate yourselves at the CDC.com website and then have a conversation with your pediatrician. Pete and I got vaccinated against Hep A, Japanese Encephalitis, and Typhoid. Freya was too young to receive the later ones so she was only given Hep A a part from the vaccination normally given to a 14 month old. I also made the decision to continue nursing her throughout our trip so that she can receive protection against Malaria through me and the malaria pills that I would take if need be. Now that we are towards the end of our trip and out of Malaria infested areas I have actually weaned her. For good precaution we made sure to have mosquito protection available and provide Freya with food cooked at appropriate temperatures and fruits/vegetables washed in bottled water. That said, that is the same precaution an adult has to take so there is really no problem. Apart from that we made sure to get a good travel insurance. We simply used travelinsurance.com to find an insurance policy that suited our needs, and made us feel protected. We ended up choosing a fairly cheap Allianz plan.
2. So what about transportation safety measures for baby?
Here’s one that is hard to admit…in fact I’m cringing…since we got to South East Asia, Freya has only been in a carseat once. I know… In the U.S. and Sweden we are amazing at providing our children with appropriate transportation safety measures (i.e. car seats). Between Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia I have only seen one baby in a carseat and it was a tourist or expat mother driving the car. Where I HAVE seen babies is on the back and front of mopeds, bikes, cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, rickshaws, and elephants (the one on the elephant was Freya). Somehow it all seems to work, and although Freya will be in a carseat as soon as we get to Sweden we are currently following the local customs with added precaution. For example, in Bali it is the norm to ride a scooter, moped, or motorcycle and tie the child to you with a scarf. We ride a moped and put Freya in the Ergo between us. For safety we also bought her a Hello Kitty helmet. Irresponsible? I don’t know. Yes. No. To follow the good standards of the U.S. and Sweden is very expensive and in some places not possible at all because carseats aren’t available. As I said, people live here and they make it work so we follow suit.
3. What will our baby eat on our trip?
Pete wrote about this in a previous blogpost, so you can read his thoughts at: Food, Freya Approved. My thoughts are the same as his, all food is baby food if the baby eats it. That said, I did worry that she would be picky with food and not receive the nutrition she needs. The first week I was anxious because she just would not eat at all (she would still nurse). It turns out she was simply jet lagged and after some time she slowly started eating. First she started eating familiar foods and then slowly but surly she started trying new foods and now she simply eats whatever we put in front of her. Some of this I appropriate to the fact that we started introducing her to many different kinds of foods and flavors very early on. For example, one of her first baby foods was thai coconut chicken. Nursing has also been great for us. It has kept her hydrated and full when other foods would not work. However, with only 4 weeks left on our travels we have actually weened Freya from nursing. I held out as long as I could, but my body and mind got tired from nursing. For all that we can tell she is doing great. She chomps down on all kinds of food and the locals are in wonder over her appetite. Throughout South East Asia most children seem to eat soups or porridges up until they have a full set of teeth. Freya has 7 front teeth and 4 molars that aren’t fully in yet, but it does not seem to stop her. Sometimes I worry that she is not getting enough vegetables, however that seems to be universal among parents in most countries. When she hasn’t had enough veggies we calm ourselves by buying a tomato, carrot, spinach and fruit smoothie.
Many people assume that it’s hard to travel with a toddler, when in fact it’s not that much harder than raising a child at ‘home’. Freya is the best traveler out of the three of us. Nearly everything in this world is new to her, she loves meeting new people, and she doesn’t whine about the heat and humidity nearly as much as Pete. I know Pete has written it before, but we talk about it all the time… we are still parenting everyday, so the location doesn’t really matter. We just adapt to our immediate surroundings.