20 mei 2014

Traveling with a baby

As a single mom it hasn't always been easy traveling with a baby. I have a stroller, two backpacks, a small and a big one, and not to forget a gorgeous heavy baby. 
You learn to ask for help and be creative. 

I travel less, less far at once and slower with a baby. Finding work has become more difficult than when I traveled alone, for I need and want to take my baby with me to work. 
So far: I cleaned, gave private English classes, did some typing, sold some of my pen-drawings, sold secondhand clothes (I asked people to give clothes they weren't wearing) and sold homemade banana muffins.

I'm experienced in traveling with a baby for only 4 months now. Still, I've learned a lot already!

Check out my Viv Stuff page to know more about me and my way of living and traveling.


Things to think about when you travel with a baby

I tell you my experience, but all babies have there own characters and needs. So:

1. Listen to, 'read', your baby 

My baby-girl was almost 5 months old when I started traveling with her. It has become so much more easy since. She cried more and was more restless at the beginning. 
I feel that her getting used to traveling, in combination of her getting older, changed that. 

2. Things need time
Do not rush or force anything.

When you travel, your baby sees most of the time many new places and people. 
My girl likes change and loves meeting people, but reference points besides me makes her more relaxed and enjoy the change more. That makes her smile when coming back 'home'.

3. Daily reference points
For example: same walking route, same house and room, same toys, same people, same restaurant, etc.

You may like to see many things and you should never forget yourself... your happiness shines and your baby picks that up... but do not forget the first point I made. 

Very important is not what you do, how many things you see, but how you do it. Stressing, hurrying through things, over-stimulation is not good for a baby.

4. Try not to stress, to hurry
This is anyway important, but while traveling where everything is new even more so.

Sometimes it's difficult to avoid things. My baby-girl cried so much in the plane, especially during landing. Her ears hurt like crazy. I couldn't breastfeed during landing, which can help, for she had to sit on my lap with her face directed from me. 
I let her suck on a small blanket and put my hands over her ears. But it was difficult as a mom! I almost started to cry myself from frustration.

Also with the bus the pressure on her ears were a problem and that's why she also cried a lot in the beginning of our travels. She got used to the altitude change after a month. This mainly because of a lot of going down and up the hill with a taxi to and from the place we were staying.

She can't stand the heat. It stresses her out. You could tell by her getting red, sweaty and crying that she was overheated. 
Where we're staying now, it's much cooler and since she seems much better

Where it was hot I used a hand fan sometimes, which helped a little. But due to mosquitoes and sun she had to wear long sleeves. She drank hardly any water back then and especially not too cold. If your baby likes swimming... or use a wet cloth to cool her or him down. I always have drinking water with me, especially when I can't immediately breastfeed it's handy. 

5. Try to avoid your baby to stress (physically)
Take the necessary precautions.

Even if I hardly used the baby-bed that was specially hung in front of my seat in the plane, it was still useful for the few times I did.

I payed an extra seat in the bus, just so I could put her down sometimes. Especially convenient when you're traveling as a single parent.

6.  Extra seat/bed
Sometimes it's worth the extra costs. 

Just be aware that when using cloth diapers not everywhere you have immediate access to a washing machine. But a pan or a bucket and cooked water does the trick as well.
Some places clothes dry slow. Where I was it was rainy season and I also couldn't hang the clothes in the sun that sometimes came out... it took 4 days to dry!

Plastic diapers are sometimes handy while traveling. 

I'm so happy I mostly breastfeed. It's real easy while traveling. Nothing to heat up, prepare, to make dirty, no extra weight... 
Otherwise, maybe a small hand-mixer is handy to take with you, depending on the age and child a fork will also do the trick, or even chew the food yourself beforehand... the prehistoric way.

7. What's handy and necessary to know and have with you

Be careful with food and water. Like salads are usually washed with tap water, this isn't always drinkable, especially for foreigners.
It's also smart not letting your baby touch (stray) dogs and cats, depending on the country you're in. 

Think about what you should take along. For example, do you need a (baby) mosquito net, a hat, long sleeves and trousers, a swimming diaper, something against sunburn or when there's snow, extra (dry) socks and so on.

There's a lot of discussion going on about vaccinating or not. Look up what's said to be relevant when you travel to a specific country and area.
There's a lot of good information online, also against vaccinating, and then think if you find it really necessary or not.  

8. Health

I have a big, white, blue-eyed baby. This causes a lot of attention in a country like for example Ecuador, where I feel babies are almost seen as public property. 

One time I was almost fighting a woman who wouldn't take no for an answer. She persisted in holding her.
I don't let strangers make photos of her or let them hold her. I have to protect her privacy and from too much attention. Some people however just don't seem to understand or care. 
One time she started crying, because of who and how someone hold her. The woman just didn't seem to notice or care and really had to persist her of giving back my baby to me. After that I started making some 'rules'.

Here in Ecuador you can get a red necklace or baby bracelet with a red evil-eye in it, which is believed to protect against evil. That's why, when people see it, they will think twice before touching your baby. I noticed a little bit of difference while she was wearing it.
(I got one for free, and I heard a red ribbon or string will also do the trick.)

Every culture is different. For example they think here she is a he, because she doesn't have earrings/pierced ears, which every baby-girl gets when almost just born. 

Nice thing, I find, is that it's not boring for babies here and many keep polite distance, especially after me saying something about them touching my baby. 

I am happy how helpful people can be, but sometimes you just got to ask for it.
Know that at some places they ask you afterwards for money if they help you. For example helping you getting your things into the bus. 

9. Cultural differences
Do what feels right for and according to you! It's your baby, you are the parent and no one else!

Last but not least: enjoy your time together! 
This sounds so simple and logical, but it isn't always the case. Sometimes you have to work on it

Living in the 'here and now' is a good thing, but making photos for memories and buying some typical traditional baby-clothes of the country you're in, is something you wont regret. 

10. Fun

1 opmerking:

  1. Note about stroller vs. carrier or sling.

    Someone noticed on Facebook that I had a stroller and that a carrier would be more easy.

    Well, partially true in my case... I had also a carrier with me.

    This stroller I borrowed from my host and later he gave it to me. Without it it I could have hardly done anything. I walked many, many kilometers with it. I used it to put my stuff I bought or I would sell under it. I could walk down, instead of taking a taxi.
    I am little and my baby very heavy, and have to do it all alone. It is heavy on my knees, my back... I miss it a lot now it is broke, but still use it as a chair for her.

    So, it depends on many things. A sling can be really too warm for a baby in hot weather. But it is always handy to have a sling or carrier with you. Depending if you travel alone and for how long, a stroller can help you out a lot. Sometimes I carried my baby and put my backpack in the stroller, especially when getting to a bus, etc.

    Just saying. :)