Vacation Tips » Traveling with Small Children
There are a few things you should consider if you are planning to take your children with you to Mexico.
Preparation: Always take your own medical basic needs such as cold medicine, pain relievers, inhalers, bandaids, and swimmers ear medicine.
Remember the most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that they are always rested and fed. If your kids are not having a good time, the parents will not have a good time. If your vacation is more than a few days you might pack several of their favorite toys. This can be very comforting especially for toddlers. Children should always wear a necklace or bracelet with their identification and home and emergency contact information. Having them carry a small card with this information is another option.
We recommend that all children two years and older have the Hepatitis A vaccine before they travel to Mexico. This is especially true if the child will be in more remote regions of the country or if you expect an increased exposure to contaminated food and water. You should also make sure that your child's vaccinations are up-to-date according to routine schedule as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org. For travel to certain tropical regions of the country, you may need to consider vaccinating for Yellow Fever as well as Malaria prevention. Refer to specific chapters on Yellow Fever and Malaria in the Mexico, Health and Safety Travel Guide for more information.
Before you travel with your child, you should understand that small children might be more susceptible to contracting infectious diseases. If they do get sick, you may not immediately recognize their condition because of their lack of ability to communicate their symptoms. Along these lines, it is essential that you do what you can to prevent and prepare for illness. Review the sections in the Mexico: Health and Safety Travel Guide about food and water precautions and Traveler's Diarrhea, water and sun safety, and preventing insect and tick bites. Each chapter has a section dedicated to children, which you should also read before you leave. A nursing mother with TD does not have to stop breast-feeding, but she should increase her fluid intake and seek medical attention.
Traveling as a Single Parent
If you are a single parent traveling with a child or children you may be required to show proof that that the absent parent has given permission for your child(ren) to be with you. A signed and notarized document of permission (preferably in Spanish) from the absent parent will suffice. We also recommend that you carry the child(ren)'s birth certificate at all times showing that you are the actual parent. Grandparents or other relatives should carry written permission from both parents. Since December 2001, Canadian children must have their own passport. However, if you hold a valid Canadian passport issued before December 2001, that bears the name of your child, the passport will remain valid for both you and your child until it expires or until your child reaches the age of 16 whichever comes first.
You may purchase a portable breast pump at www.babybungalow.com. For your potty-training toddlers, you can purchase an inflatable port-a-potty at www.potties.com. For additional travel supplies for children such as car seats, meal-time accessories, and diaper products, visit www.healthybabycare.com. For more extensive coverage purchase Lonely Planet's publication, "Travel With Children".
If your child is under two and you plan to hold him or her on your lap during the flight, be aware that a small child may be dislodged from a parent's lap during turbulence. A special harness, the Baby B'Air, is available through www.flyingwithkids.com. This site also has other information on flying with your baby. A child should not fly with an active middle ear, sinus, or upper respiratory tract infection. We recommend that you delay your plans for at least three weeks after ear, nose, or throat surgery. Nursing, feeding or using a pacifier with a baby during take off and landing helps to prevent an increase in ear pressure and pain. Letting your baby cry also may relieve the pressure.
A sucker is useful for toddlers. If it is a long flight remember children have lots of energy and often do not do well if they have to sit in one place for very long. Try to "tire" them a bit before they board by playing in a part of the airport where there is extra room. Don't pre-board as they will become more "antsy" if they sit too long before the flight. Plenty of snacks are essential, especially now that most planes don't serve food. Have them pack their own small bag with water, snacks and busy work. Parents with babies may want to practice changing a diaper on your lap before it becomes a necessity, and bring plastic bags to dispose of the diapers. Children become motion sick more easily than adults. Most of the medications available for adults are not recommended for children under the age of 12. If your child develops motion sickness we recommend diphenhydramine (Benadryl™).
Traveling in Cars
If you plan to ride in a car with a child under the age of 5, you should always use a car seat. We recommend that you take a car seat with you, if necessary. It may be an inconvenience however if you plan on being mobile. Unfortunately, many taxis in Mexico do not have seatbelts so this may cause you a problem. Search for a taxi that has belts or rent a car. Many parents just simply carry the children in their laps.
Robert H. Page, MD and Curtis P. Page, MD are authors of the MEXICO: Health and Safety Travel Guide and