Soc.culture.indian Frequently Asked Questions
	    Travelling to India with an infant/child


Collection maintained by: Savithri S. ([email protected])
Last updated: 07/18/95

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Travelling to India with an infant/child.   And, unless
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Copyright 1995, Savithri S.  Use and copying of this information are
permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for
use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright
notice is included intact.

The following is *MY* experience/contribution to the FAQ.  I will include
all the e-mails as I recieve them and post the update in the beginning
of every month.  If anybody misses it and needs the copy of the FAQ, they
may get it by sending me an e-mail. 

I just returned from a trip to India (May-July 1995).  My younger
kid was about 5 months when we left here (was there about 6 weeks) and
my older one about 4 years.

- Book your tickets in ADVANCE so that you can get the first
  row of seats where they can attach a bassinet on the wall (below the
  movie screen).  My infant slept happily in her bassinet most of the way.
  (We used the space below to lay out a blanket and pillow for my four year
  old to sleep.  The kids were very comfortable and well rested which makes
  the trip a lot more tolerable :-). Ask the ticket person specifically to
  book a bassinet.  You can also request a Kids Meal for the older child.
  It will include some games/toys that will keep them busy for a while.  

-We also carried our infant bouncer/carrier.  This was of immense help
 at the airports to lay down the baby and feed her.  Also very helpful
 in India to take the baby from place to place in the car.
 (Be prepared for curious stares and even some folks coming to you and
  asking you where they can get one like that).
-For the older child take some toys/books/travel games.

-Carry *atleast* two sets of changing clothes for the kids on the flight.
- Be upto date on the immunization shots for your kids.

- Give them gamma-globulin shots 2 weeks prior to departure (ask your ped.).
  (This protects them against Hepatitis A which is usually transmitted
   through food, liquids etc.)

- We also gave them malarial tablets (ask your Ped.)  

-Take plenty of kids strength mosquito repllent (if that is a problem
 where you are visiting).  Have them under the mosquito net at night.

 -Take american diapers enough to cover atleast
 -every *NIGHT*.  In the day time you can use the local brand (which is very
 -poor in its soaking/holding capacity).

-Some of the medicines you need to take are:

Tylenol (both infant and child)
Antihistamine (like benedryl)
Immodium (for diahrreah)
Cough syrup 
Mild Cortaid creme (In case of some insect bites etc.)
(Once again check with your ped. for your specific case).

-You get something called electral (equivalent to pedialyte but MUCH tastier)
 and you can use that at the very first sign of diahrreah/vomiting.

(We had one bout of diahrreah/vomiting and I attribute that to something
 we ate *outside* the home. )

THe good thing about India are the wonderful doctors.  They will see
you at all odd hours and will even come to your house when necessary.
So in that respect one doesn't have to worry too much.  However, it is
best to try and prevent any illness.

- For the infant/toddler take whatever food items they are used to from
  here. Introducing new foods can cause allergic reactions.
  I carried juices, dry milk, baby jar foods etc.

- *NEVER* let the toddler eat anything outside (that includes reputable
   restaurants) except things like biscuits, rusks, and other dry food
   items that *YOU* decide are safe.

  ( I would like to add a comment here.  You may come across many well-wishers
   (relatives mostly) who will tell you that the kids there eat this and
   that and they are OK. So why is it that you guys come from abroad and
   make a big fuss.  TO all of them, explain patiently (even if you feel like
   screaming:-), that everybody develops immunity to the germs/bacteria
   in the place one resides.  THis is especially tough in infants/young
   kids whose immune system is just kicking in.  It is ridiculous to assume
   that they can develop that immunity in the short while that they are in
   India.  Hence the extra precaution)

-  For the toddler, the milk may be a big problem.  It has been my experience
    (and some of my friends) that they cannot tolerate the milk there.  It seems
    to have a laxative effect.  Either limit their intake (which can be tough
    if you are a vegetarian) or get them used to dry skim milk here with some
    flavor that they enjoy.  You can take the dry stuff there.

-  *ALWAYS* boil the water and cool it before giving it to your kids.  
    Never leave home without it.  Don't rely on those bottled water. I was
    told that some of them contain ordinary tap water.  We always carried our
    own water for the older kid (I don't give water to my infant).

The air ride wasn't too bad.  On the return journey both my kids had a mild cold
and that can cause pretty nasty earaches.  To avoid that give some
antihistamine 1 hour before landing (which is usually worse than take off)
and some tylenol 15 minutes before landing.

It is also good to try and get the baby to drink (out of the bottle or
breast) during take-off and landing.  The suction mode relieves the
pressure in the ears.  For older kids try lollipos or gums.

Just a final note.  If you are well prepared for all possible situations,
then the trip should be pretty smooth.  Mine was :-)  Also despite all what
one dreads, the kids have a GREAAAAAAAT time there basking in love and
attention from relatives and strangers.  With the right precautions, they
will not get too sick either. 

Have a great trip and please share with us your experience/wisdom.


We took our daughter to India when she was 5 months old. We stayed in 
Bombay in march and part of may, and in Delhi in april. It was at times
hot and humid in Bombay and hot and dry in Delhi. 

Our daughter did not have any problems. In fact she adjusted better than us!

Some basic precautions:

- Use boiled water for any formula that you make,
- Have the baby drink lots of fluid,
- If mother is breast feeding, she should avoid eating outside,
- Use mosquito net _everytime_ the baby sleeps,
- Put on only cotton clothes,
- Do not take the child outdoors except in early morning or late evening when
  it is cool,
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight...use cap and sun-screen lotion/cream 
  when you have to, even in the car.. advisable is to take the special baby 
  formulation for sun-screen from USA itself since they are not likely to 
  be available easily in India

No, no special vaccinations are necessary. Of course the baby should be given
BCG at birth even if it is not standard practice in the US. OPV, DPT and HiB
are the other standard vaccines. Maintain the vaccine schedule in India. Keep
a WHO vaccination card for the baby and have the doc. make entries therein

Above all, use common you would if you go anywhere in the world
with a small child. 

I would not recommend going to India with a small child in the summer/rainy 
months, only if the child is not of normal health.

Best wishes,

From [email protected] Mon Jul 17 16:05 EDT 1995

We went to India in May when Sanjana was about 6 months, She is still
in India. We stayed in Jaipur (42-47 degrees C) and Bombay (hot and
humid this time). Fortunately she took it very well. I feel that our
planning before we left helped us a lot.

Before you go:

- Check with baby's doctor. If it makes sense, prepond some of the
  shots and get them done here. Sanjana got her 6th month shot in the
  5th month itself.
- Typhoid shot
- Our doctor advised against Malaria shot for her.

Things to take from here:

- Diapers, you can get them in India also but quality is not as good. We
  tried to leave her open as much as possible (maids help ;-)). We would
  put diaper in the night or when we went out. This would help in heat
  and humidity.
- Baby milk powder, take it in sufficient quantity. Indian baby powder
  has to be dissolved in the lukewarm water (extra hassle) and Sanjana
  did not like it.
- Baby food. We took enough for 1.5 months but we also introduced rice,
  lentils, fruits in India. She really liked it (besides it was hard to
  control her grand parents ;-))
- Stuff like Pedialite, infant tylenol, lots of mosquito repellant
  cream. Powder with corn starch.
- Copy of baby's health records.
- Stroller.

While flying to India:

- Make sure you get bassinet seat. Do this well in advance. Our flight
  had lots of babies. I could see plight of the parents who had to
  keep their babies on the lap.
- Ask them for baby food, formula etc. when you make reservation. Singapore
  air was very good.
- Take a break if possible. We took a room at the Singapore airport. It
  was quite a relief for us and the baby. We gave her bath, food and she
  slept well on the bed.
- We fed her milk/water when taking off or landing. This helped ease her
  discomfort when pressure changed.

While in India:

- We always used zero bacteria water (had a machine installed) boil
  it and store it in the fridge. We would change it every 3 days. We
  used that for her milk, food and cereal.
- No travelling during the day time when it is hot. She was mostly
  indoors. Install air-conditioners if possible.
- Wash all her utencils in hot water, boil them regularly.
- No food from outside, do not let anyone make her "taste" stuff
  from outside.
- Introduce home cooked food (like rice, rice-with lentils etc.)
  slowly. She liked them more than her baby food. We started giving
  her fresh veggies (boil in the pressure cooker and puree it).
  Milk shakes made with fresh fruits (in her formula milk).
- Give her plenty of fluids.
- If you are going to be busy socially, then have somebody take care
  of the baby full time.
- When in doubt, goto a good doctor.

Hope this helps.