Sunday, June 11, 2006


With a wide range of differences depending of the country where the adoptee is coming from and even the time of the year, there is a set of recommendations for travelling parents common to most of all.
ATTITUDE. No matter how exciting the adventure of adopting a child from a foreign and usually exotic country is, the focus should be place in the fact that we are going to travel with a small child, an infant in most cases.
Babies like it simple. So do wise parents. The less contraptions and accessories, the better. Just watch what local mothers do in Third World countries.
Do not overload yourself with luggage. Think ahead when you travel in, because on the way back you’ll have to carry an extra 10 kilo piece of luggage: Your baby!!!Travel is always a hassle, so try to “unhurry” yourself. Plan ahead and take as much time as possible to get to places to avoid rushing and last minute runs to the airport gates.
On the other hand, try to stave off long waiting periods in uncomfortable airport lounges. If there are lines to keep, have just one of the members of the travelling party stand the line (that usually means the daddy) while mother and child sit around in a quiet corner.
A quiet mom keeps a quiet baby. However, babies tend to cry for little or no reason, so do not get upset if your baby gives you a hard time during the trip and waiting periods. No matter how little, he or she will be just as excited as you are from the new experience. Try to soothe him naturally once you have assured yourself that he does not need feeding o changing nappies. Cooing and rocking have always been the normal human way to quiet down a wailing little brat.

THE OTHER’S ATTITUDE. Not everybody likes children. Many adults feel annoyed by the presence of children in the usually close quarters of a travelling vehicle, bus, plane or whatever. It is your worry trying to avoid being a nuisance to others.
Also, in cases of obvious adoption, that is when the ethnic features show clearly that the parents are not biological, some brows may be raised in surprise or contempt. Adopting children from a poor country is not always seen with sympathy. So do not force your happiness on anyone nor expect any special treatment for carrying a baby.
Due to gender differences and behaviours in most Third World countries, women, mothers, keep to themselves and hardly ever make eye contact with others. You’ll be better off melting in with the crowd and try to behave like a local mom. You do not have to wear a “burka”: just pretend you do. A head scarf might help.

But just the same do not put up with stupidity or rudeness. Your baby is the most important thing in the world. Think on his/her and his/her outmost benefit and act consequently. Just as lionesses do…


CLOTHING. When you get your child you may well change him to new (your) clothing. The simplest garments the better: a two pieces, shirt and pants, preferably cotton, washable and of light colours. Better oversized, he’ll fill them in eventually. Depending of the climate and temperature some other pieces may be added. Better fewer pieces or swaddles. Avoid the “onion baby” with four or five shirts, pullovers and jerseys. Keep in mind the temperature changes during the day and night and the air-conditioning in planes, as well as the sudden changes on boarding and unboarding.

For babies, one piece suits, bottom and back opened feet included, usually come handy. Make provisions for at least one change of everything because soiling is unexpectedly common.

Your provision of diapers should consider up to some six to seven changes in a 24 hour period. All the same, a little urine in a diaper never harmed anyone, so do not be over-compulsive in diaper changes.

FOOD AND NURSING. It will, of course, depend on the child’s age. For small children, babies and toddlers a set of two bottles, plastic washable, one for water and one for formulae, and a provision of nipples. Use only bottled water from unopened containers both to drink and to prepare formulae. Milk and baby-food in general do not need to be heated and may be given at room temperature[2]. If is too cold, just warmed it with your own body heat, keeping the bottle close to your own body for a few minutes.

To wash and clean bottle and nipples soap should suffice, as most children taken into adoption are of an age when they have already acquired a normal intestinal flora for the region where they live. Other than that and since boiling may not be feasible while travelling, the best disinfectant is plain regular lye, apt for human consumption. One tablespoon per litre of washing water will clear most common contaminants. Remember that the proportion for drinkable water is just 20 drops of lye per litre.

You may use whatever formula you bring with you from scratch. Changing formulae may upset the babies digestions, but that may happen just as well for changes in the water the formulae are prepared with. You may as well accept or purchase the formula the baby has been taking until then, as long as you get unopened and sealed containers. Discard any opened or used can since no guaranties of preservation can be taken for granted in most institutions.

Remember to prepare the formulae following strictly the manufacturers instructions. And do it yourself. Do not let hotel personnel, stewardesses or anybody else to prepare your child’s formula. You may not have previous childrearing experience, but you cannot trust what they have either. You’ll learn in the doing and your child will get used to your mistakes. That’s what mothering is.

In any case you’ll be better off with the lowest concentrations, that is: keeping the milk a bit clearer, with more water content. Your main concern should be around thirst, not so much about hunger. Specially if the baby, because of the changes, has more loose stools or frank diarrhoea. If the baby acts hungry just give him some more quantity, or feed him/her more often. The purpose is to keep the child happy and hydrated. You’ll have plenty of time at home to nourish and fatten your child, and that just if he/she needs so, because nutrition is a matter of quality, not quantity.

MEDICINES. You just cannot take with you the whole pharmaceutical production of industrialised countries. You will not need it either. Provisions just have to be made for minor ailments as for anyone travelling. Should you or your child or anyone else in your party get really sick you’ll just use the local medical resources. That should be better than trying to play doctors in the jungle.

Therefore the remedies to use are mostly those considered symptomatic: pain relievers, soothing creams, antacids, antibugs lotions, nose and eye drops and perhaps laxatives, although Moctezuma may prove otherwise. Prescription drugs should be kept for doctors, even in the Third World. They ought to know better, at least locally. Just the same it might be a good idea to carry along an antibiotic for general use in case of an obvious infectious problem while we get to proper medical care.

A list of medicines and doses is provided below.

TOYS AND ENTERTAINING. Toys, pacifiers and child entertainment devices are Western cultural constructions. Save yourself troubles and weight and forfeit toys and other useless things. Children can be distracted, entertained and otherwise amused with simple things like a piece of paper, clothing or just their own hands and feet. Save the teddy bears and overhead hanging mobile contraptions for grandparents or old aunts on due time. Still, the best, more universal of toys, is a ball[3] appropriate for the child’s size… that you can always model with a newspaper sheet.

Pacifiers may start a war instead of make peace. Specially when a child used to suck that dreadful invention looses it and starts crying in desperation. And be worth a king’s ransom when you come to grips with fixing your child’s denture before adolescence. Orthodontics are close to highway robbery in costs of money and to jail terms on time consumption. A con’s world.

In case of an emergency you may resort to a bottle nipple, or momma’s own, to cork up a screaming little fellow.

BATHING AND HYGIENE. One bath a day should suffice, other than what may be needed around diaper changes. The water just above body temperature in submersion baths. But, while travelling, a sponge bath may make do. Make sure you revise crevices and skin folds to avoid accumulation of grime and wash the hair at least every second day.

For skin care oils are better, as ancient Egyptians and Romans knew. But carrying bottles of oil may be difficult and if opened within a suitcase generate quiet a mess. So you may stick to baby lotions but do not overdo yourself. A baby with a healthy skin needs little protection. Just cleaning.

Sun screens are for Westerners. The best protection from the sunrays is a shade. In Spanish, and they (we) do know about sun, “sombra”, “sombrilla”, “sombrero” and “sombrajo”[4] are key words to keep cool.

Table 1. Medicines and remedies for travelling parents





Fever, pain medicine

Children Drops: 10-15 mg /kg body weight

Adults: 500 mg tablets


Fever, pain medicine

Children Drops or liquid: 5 mg/kg of bw 3-4 times daily

Adults: 400 mg tablets

Saline solution: 0.9 % salt in water, sterile

Eye drops, cleansing

Ad lib

Ampicillin (Antibiotic)

Infections. General, diagnosed (ear infection, pneumonia, severe skin infection)

Children: oral solution, 50-100 mg/kg/day in 3-4 divided doses.

Adults 0.5 gr, 3 times daily

Albuterol, Salbutamol, bronchodialator

Asthma, bronchitis and bronchiolitis

Inhaled. One “puff” as needed. Children use of a breathing chamber[5]

Antiparasitic lotion, anti lice lotion


Apply after hair washing, twice daily

Tiorfan. Anti-diarrhoea

Regular diarrhoea. Not for salmonella infections

Babies 10 mg/feeding

Toddlers 20-30 mg/feeding

Adults 60 mg 4-5 times daily

Antibiotic eye drops


One drop in each eye every 2-4 hours for one day

Skin disinfectants: iodine, iodine derivates,

Erosions, little wounds

Apply as needed, generously

WC Fields, a cynical an very funny North American clown and showman way back in the 1930’s used to say that “... a man who hates dogs and children can’t be all bad….”

[2] We drink the best of the wines “chambrèe”, don’t we?

[3] Think of the millions of people and dollars that go around a ball in football and basketball courts around the world.

[4] Shade, umbrella, hat, and thatch.

[5] You may make do with a water plastic bottle with the bottom cut off

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