A good age for baby’s first trip to India? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 10-24-2008, 10:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have no idea where to put this, so I’m plopping here and in Health.

I’m thinking ahead (way ahead) about the right age to schedule an international trip for our as-yet-to-be-conceived baby. We wish to celebrate the traditional Bengali ceremonies for naming children and giving them their first taste of solid foods with DH’s side of the family India.

The ceremonies can be held at the same time, and the food ceremony is flexible enough to include only yogurt and rice. Also flexible is the timing: sometime between 5 and 17 months. I plan to breastfeed til 2 and delay/selective vax.

I’ve been trying to think of all the pros and cons regarding air travel, safety in a developing country, what vax to give when and so on. I guess what I need is opinions and experiences from folks who are already mamas on what age was (or would have been) a good time to do a trip to New Delhi with a babe. Anyone want to offer : ?
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#2 of 22 Old 10-26-2008, 09:33 PM
 
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i have a v. social child and before we went over at 8 months we had already traveled here in the US so plane rides were not new to her. or long journeys.

for the amount that she got out of her visit, i dont think there is any right or wrong age for travellign or going overseas. i just nursed her right thruout the flight.

i would have travelled with her at 2 months but i didnt get the chance. i would have done the polio vaccine before i went.

she is also the child who looooooves travelling and going out. right from new born stage. she loved going for her first doctors appt. and prefered to go out than be home after the two week curfew due to c-section.

so really a lot depends on the personality of your child.

i would say go around 6 months old when you can do both the ceremonies at the same time.

we were there for 2 months the first time and she loved every minute of it. i would try to avoid though doing anything shorter than a month. i remember it took my dd a week to acclimatise to the time change everytime we were back there.

she had separation anxiety from 2 months but once there it went away never to return.

i have friends who have travelled to south america and UK with a month old and two month old child. children adapt. so there is no hard and fast rule about age. that is one of the best time to take them coz they are not running away from you and you are their walking food.

the only thing i would be concerned about is you. how much time would you want away from your baby?

oh yeah one piece of sound advice i got from another dad. you can get a ID for your child as soon as they are born so that you dont have to carry ur baby's passport everywhere u fly within US.

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#3 of 22 Old 10-27-2008, 12:49 PM
 
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I took my daughter when she was less than 2 month old. I was breastfeeding and thought that was perfect. No need of water, food, etc. I felt very safe all the time and avoid the bite of mosquitos by all means (sleeping with a net and usig those electronic devices in the room to keep them away).
We went again when she was 18 months old. much more difficult to keep hyginene and safety standards with food, touching and liking everything. In both occasions it all wen very well.
My only worry is that India is much more child-friendly than I was used too. so everybody wanted to carry and touch my child. When she was very small I had difficulties with that. the second time I relaxed much more.
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#4 of 22 Old 10-27-2008, 08:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Asha+Joy View Post
I guess what I need is opinions and experiences from folks who are already mamas on what age was (or would have been) a good time to do a trip to New Delhi with a babe. Anyone want to offer : ?
I think a couple of months is good enough- then it's whatever you're comfortable with. I wouldn't want to be flying while still post-partum bleeding or recovering from c/s, so anytime after that you should be fine. As a PP stated, a BF baby isn't in much danger. Good luck!

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#5 of 22 Old 10-31-2008, 01:54 PM
 
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We took dd1 to India for her ceremonies at 12 months old. It was very very very (did I mention very?) hard to travel with her on the plane there and back because she had just started to walk and didn't want to sit still. Once we got there it was fine though, in the IL's house. When we went on a couple of road trips to take her to temples that was also a lot harder than what it would be in the US. I managed to take along flat cloth diapers and we hand washed them in the hotels at night and they were usually dry by morning. I stayed with dd for 2.5 months and I feel it was too long. I was bored beccause I could not drive there and there were no clean parks or playgrounds, no libraries. Just the mall and it was not kid friendly. I got very bored with nothing much to do. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed going places at home until I was forced to pretty much sit in the house and watch TV and watch my dd play all day for 2.5 months.
I think 3 weeks would be a better time frame.

We went again 1.5 years ago and by then dd1 was 6 and dd2 was 3. That was a much better age to fly!! By then the girls could play and entertain themselves even though we did find ourselves stuck in the house a lot. We took more road trips and saw more things that they enjoyed. The only complication is that my dd2 has major health problems and is tube-fed, and we had some equipment failures that caused her to get sick and lose weight and almost went to the hospital one time. But that is probably not something you need to worry about.

So from my own experience I would recommend going when the baby is 2-5 moths old or else wait until it's about 2.5-3 years old. That stage where they are crawling or walking but don't listen very well is very very hard. I would not do that again even if someone paid me a huge sum of money.

We are a family that does vax so we did get full vax for both kids before the trip but nothing extra that going to another country would require or be recommended. Likewise the first trip I took as a non-parent I got the traveler's vaccines and meds, but never have taken them since. I find that if you take common sense precautions and wash your hands often, boil the water or buy good quality drinking water, eat food cooked at home (or if out, make sure it's very hot and fresh), you should be fine.

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#6 of 22 Old 11-03-2008, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to each of you for taking the time to answer my groping-in-the-dark question! I feel really lucky to get the advice of folks who have actually done it.

USAmma, it sounds like you had your share of difficulties on both trips. I think you’re a braver woman than me, I’m not sure I would dare to do the trip with a child suffering major medical problems. I’m curious, did you bring a car seat along on your first trip, or would you not have used it as you weren't driving yourself?

Based on all of your combined advice and my own physical limitations (no way I’ll be traveling further than the corner store 2 months post c-section with my degenerative spine) we are going to pencil in the trip at the 5 month mark and stay for 3-4 weeks. I think it’s very true that a babe in arms will be easier to protect from hazards than a toddler, and less exhausting to care for during travel and while we are there. I also think we will be putting off subsequent trips until the LO is 3 or so.

Nuala, I’m really curious about what I should expect when I’m toting baby around in India. Would you be willing to indulge me and tell me more about your experience with people wanting to touch and hold your LO? (and would anyone else?) I’m wondering if you ever had her in a sling, and if so, if it cut down on those requests like it tends to in the west. Also, in what situations did you find yourself getting most requests versus situations when you got fewer?

Meemee, I agree with you about the polio vaccine. There is a 50/50 chance that we will be returning to India to live when the kids are toddlers, so vaccine-free is not the best plan for our family. We’re more about the merits of being selective and delaying. This last week we looked up what the recommendations are in India and then used the info to modify Dr. Sears’ vax schedule (to get the IVP in early).

Thanks for the tip about the baby ID card, I had no idea you could get one. I’m not sure I understand what you mean about time I want away from my baby? We do plan on all traveling together.

I feel pretty good about the alternative vax schedule we are nailing together. The only thing that actually worries me is tuberculosis. TB is far from uncommon in Delhi, and last year DH’s uncle was diagnosed with it! the BCG vaccine is not the easiest thing to get your hands on in the US. I’m going to investigate if we can obtain it as travel-related, (does anyone happen to know that?) but if not the babies will be getting it in India on their first trip.

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#7 of 22 Old 11-03-2008, 08:09 PM
 
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I’m curious, did you bring a car seat along on your first trip, or would you not have used it as you weren't driving yourself?
Yes I brought car seats/booster seats both times. My IL's did NOt understand why I needed to take up a seat with the "large uncomfortable" carseat when the baby would be much more comfortable on my lap. I tried and tried to explain to them but they were extremely irritated by it. I made sure my SIL had a carseat when she had her baby and I found out later they hardly ever used it because he cried in it. Driving is scary there and I would definitely bring the carseat. You can check it in if you plan on your dd being a lap baby on the plane.

I also wanted to comment on the baby touching thing. People were very friendly and curious and they often wanted to pinch my dd's cheeks. Aunties would practically grab her from me and want to hold her but she was scared of them. It's very much a cultural thing for a baby to be passed around and people thought I was being rude to not automatically hand her off.

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#8 of 22 Old 11-05-2008, 02:46 AM
 
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I took Ethan at age 18 months for 4 weeks to New Delhi and Aurangabad. My mom took me for a month at the same age when i was a child and my younger sister at 3 months (I was 3 at the time). I think it'll definitely be easier with a non-mobile infant than an exploring toddler. While we had a great time and did really well (no illnesses), it was constant vigilance with what we fed him (and ourselves), water, and clean feet and hands - all not really issues if you're fully breastfeeding an infant. with a toddler who was exploring and eating as well as breastfeeding, that's what we spent a lot of energy doing.

We also brought a car seat and made sure that our relatives and cab companies we used had seat belts that would allow us to install it (not all of them do). and not all of those that do have seat belts know how to use them (may be hidden or tucked into the seats).

The car seat on the plane for that length of a trip will be a life-saver as well.

Other tips... have people come visit you rather than running around to other homes - lets you keep the baby's routine as much as possible.
as soon as you can, try and get back to your regular home routine (timing of your day etc) for baby, at least. in India, meals are so much later, nights later and, especially if you wait till your child is a toddler, can be pretty disruptive.

Other than that, have a wonderful trip!

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#9 of 22 Old 11-05-2008, 10:35 AM
 
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a lot will depend on your child's personality.

oh before i forget. remember to ask for the bassinet on the flight. it really helps. my dd didnt stay in it - plus she was too tall for it, but it is a great place to keep toys, clothes, etc. plus a much needed breather for the flight.

i did the sling thing and stuck out like a sore thumb. but no stranger wanted to come and take the baby from me or touch me.

but where family and friends were concerned, when my dd realised going into someone's arms means leaving the apt and going for a visit, she wanted to go to everybody. she had a fan club all over the apt building and she loved visiting without me there. everyone out there were aware of the 'american stomach' so didnt give her anything. though when i realised she had an iron stomach i wasnt v. strict about water so much. she did start eating solid food out there and loved the attention because many times it was someone else feeding her.

what i meant by time away from baby was doing something without the baby if you need to. i wanted to go and do a quick shopping for friends trip and i really didnt want to take my dd there. and so i left her with my mom while i went off. for a couple of hours.

even on the flight the first time dd was passed on as a few people asked if they could hold her. i asked her if she wanted to go and she was fine as long as i was there within sight. once she got used to them she was fine with me not being there.

so like i said a lot depends on ur child. my dd thrived there. and always wanted to go back. later on back home when i asked her where she wanted to go she would say 'dida's'. i would have taken her back even as a toddler because she got so much out of the social environment.

also she is not a v. structured child. we were always out and she would fall asleep anywhere.

oh and both times i took the carseat and booster seat and never used it. never found seat belts to use them. i did enjoy having her on my lap though. we even went on the rickshaw.

the only thing i was concerned about was my dd falling sick. so i had my mom research and set up a pediatrician for her in case we needed it. we never did.

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#10 of 22 Old 11-05-2008, 11:56 AM
 
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i did the sling thing and stuck out like a sore thumb. but no stranger wanted to come and take the baby from me or touch me.
You are so lucky! I had mine in a sling too, and people who were distant relatives would literally be grabbing her out of the sling! Luckily dd was old enough to let her opinion be known about that.

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#11 of 22 Old 11-05-2008, 08:09 PM
 
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You are so lucky! I had mine in a sling too, and people who were distant relatives would literally be grabbing her out of the sling! Luckily dd was old enough to let her opinion be known about that.
oh dont worry. the relatives did just that. no matter how distant. esp. a mixed child - a light complexioned kid!!! : u kiddin me!! but no one off the street wanted to touch her. they would coo and aww over her - but never try to take her from me. in fact since this was an american baby : everyone was v. conscientious to wash their hands v. well with soap and water before they took her. oh and my dd would egg them on. she learnt so much in those two months. whenever anyone came to visit us - whoever it was - even the newspaper delivery boy my dd would hold her arms out and lunge towards him and then point to the door with a v. determined expression of ok lets go. she would yell to high heaven (she had a v.powerful set of lungs) if they didnt leave within a minute. because of her we always had a constant line of visitors of not just family, neighbours but also the maids and building security staff who worked there. she somehow is v. energized by crowds and people.

when i went when she was almost 3 1/2 i only got to see her at night. and sometimes during the day. she would go visit our neighbours and then call me up and inform me seh wasnt coming home for lunch. she totally ate up the attention she got there.

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#12 of 22 Old 11-06-2008, 08:24 PM
 
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I traveled to a country poorer than India when DD was 2 months (8 weeks exactly). We lived there from 2 months to 20 months. She got vaccinated there. I was alone on four of six intercontinental flights we've had. I had some troubles, mainly hysteria due to sleep deprivation, hah, hah, but I found Asian people incredibly helpful!

Actually, the 2-month-old trip was the easiest because she didn't do anything but breastfeed and stare, whereas travel at one year was pure hell. Six months was okay. 21 months was hard but at least I could speak to her and give her some more solids.

I have a sit-n-stroll which is a convertible carseat-stroller, which most people can understand is very convenient, since you can roll baby off while holding your luggage. My in-laws are really tolerant so that was no biggie. I was not the only person with a baby on the plane.

I would not worry about travel unless your child's / children's immune system(s) are particularly compromised. We vaccinate on a slightly modified schedule, but she had most of them when we went and we continued the schedule there.

There are several threads here on vaccination and travel- I will see if I can find them tonight for you. Generally most people either vaccinate or are not worried much because they believe that the vaccines aren't effective anyway, OR that the risks of the vaccines outweigh the risks of the disease.

ON THE OTHER HAND- if you are sure you are having a c-section, I'd be way more concerned about the recovery, running to catch flights, and lugging your luggage, than what could happen to a six-month-old in India. There are millions of babies in India and rarely do the rich, immunized ones get sick more than our own babies here. (You're not planning on bathing her in the Ganges before her polio vaccine, are you?)

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#13 of 22 Old 11-07-2008, 11:18 AM
 
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We just got back from a two week trip to New Delhi with an 18 month old, and I will never do that again, he was just too mobile, but too little for it to work out well. I would either go before they are 8 months old or so or after they are 3. We stayed with family and the house where we were was not set up for a toddler uat all which caused a lot of problems (it was also way to small for 7 people). We did have his own seat on the plane and had to argue with Air India on the way there about using it, we didn't have any trouble on the way back though, it did help a lot. We didn't actually use the car seat while in India, as much as I would have liked to none of the cars we drove in had seat belts in the back seats.

We loved having the Calyx for DS it made life so much easier when we were traveling and wandering the city with him, but it did get us a number of odd looks. I did enjoy the trip, but at 18 months old it was just a bit too much and it would have been much better when he was far less mobile then he is now or old enough to follow and understand why directions are being given to him.

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#14 of 22 Old 11-13-2008, 04:31 AM
 
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I would either go before they are 8 months old or so or after they are 3.
Seriously, unless you have two parents to each kid, that is good advice. With a mom and a dad it is manageable, in my opinion, but ugh.

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#15 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i did the sling thing and stuck out like a sore thumb. but no stranger wanted to come and take the baby from me or touch me.
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oh dont worry. the relatives did just that. no matter how distant. esp. a mixed child - a light complexioned kid!!! : u kiddin me!! but no one off the street wanted to touch her. they would coo and aww over her - but never try to take her from me.
I've grown quite accustomed to sticking out in India, :: so no worries there.
Of course I know it’s unrealistic in the extreme to try to stop family-aunties grabbing baby. It's the attentions of neighborhood-aunties and strangers I'd like to curtail. From your experience it sounds like keeping her in the sling will help with that, so that’s what we will do.
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if you are sure you are having a c-section, I'd be way more concerned about the recovery, running to catch flights, and lugging your luggage, than what could happen to a six-month-old in India. There are millions of babies in India and rarely do the rich, immunized ones get sick more than our own babies here. (You're not planning on bathing her in the Ganges before her polio vaccine, are you?)
The kids can wait to take a dip until/if they ask to do it on their own.
I have investigated the threads on vaccination and travel, as well as a few other resources. India recommends BCG for tuberculosis at birth, then Polio vaccine and DPT, with both series to be completed at 14 weeks. We are certainly going to do the IVP and the DTaP, with the series completed by 5 months, and also the BCG. If we cannot get that one here in the US as travel medicine, baby will get it on arrival in India.

Sadly the c/s is a necessity; because of the type of disability I have a vaginal birth is not possible. But, I’ve not allowed my physical problems to stop me from extensive international travel in the past, (there are tricks to these things!) and I think that by the 5-6 month mark the surgery itself should be healed to the point it would not further limit my already-limited activity.

Again, thank you all so much for your advice, I finally feel like I have a handle on when and how to go about our baby’s first trip to India.
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#16 of 22 Old 11-18-2008, 10:44 PM
 
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just so you know i had a csection and i was travelling in teh US right after my dd was 2 months old. even though the flights werent as long as the transatlantic/pacific flights i still had to run to make connections (in fact those were far more stressful coz i had v. little layover time and had to really run to catch the connecting flight) and it was ok. never suffered any aftereffects.

everything really depends on your child's temperament. my dd doesnt need structure, can fall asleep anywhere and doesnt knwo what the term overstimulated is. so all the good stuff to be a good traveller. we have travelled a lot within the US for the first 3 years including looooooong road trips and dd has done fine. even at the age when she started walking. 15 hour car trip with just a diaper/lunch break.

i think too travelling all the time when she was little i think made her a good traveller too.

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#17 of 22 Old 11-19-2008, 01:00 PM
 
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wow I just found this thread and it was sooooooo very informative and helpful! I am due with my 1st in May 2009 and I was just daydreaming about how and when we would managed our 1st trip to India after baby arrives. thanks for all the awesome advice listed here! one thing I have to mention is my sil just had a baby last year and we visited while she was still pregnant and of course I brought her lot of gifts! I actually got her a car seat too because I think that traveling by car in India especially Mumbai is pretty terrifying, and well she never used it not once. it is just not a part of there culture to use one and to her it was more hassle than worth it because it was so big and took up so much room in their car.
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#18 of 22 Old 11-21-2008, 02:18 PM
 
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ooooooooooh one important info i forgot. DO NOT visit north india during the rains. esp. august. it is a big hassle. flooded streets and bad traffic after a major thunderstorm. just v. inconvenient. esp. with baby. i have also got housebound which is v. frustrated if you are there for a limited time.

it is my favourite season though so i enjoy visiting there.

when i go i go with two suitcases full of presents and a carryon with a few of dd's things, unload and come back with more presents.

Rasa congratulations!!!! yeah you make a good point. what is seen as necessary here is not looked the same way out there.

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#19 of 22 Old 11-23-2008, 03:55 AM
 
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Sadly the c/s is a necessity; because of the type of disability I have a vaginal birth is not possible. But, I’ve not allowed my physical problems to stop me from extensive international travel in the past, (there are tricks to these things!) and I think that by the 5-6 month mark the surgery itself should be healed to the point it would not further limit my already-limited activity.

Again, thank you all so much for your advice, I finally feel like I have a handle on when and how to go about our baby’s first trip to India.
It is wonderful that you are able to TTC despite your disability knowing that you have options! I am sure you'll have a great trip. As others said, so much depends on your baby's temperament and your own recovery. : Wishing you a good birth and a travel-friendly baby.
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it is just not a part of there culture to use one and to her it was more hassle than worth it because it was so big and took up so much room in their car.
I'll be honest. We don't always, or even usually, use the carseat in Asia. But it saves lives when installed properly and it doesn't matter where you are. I would never begrudge someone using it any time they reasonably expect the car to exceed 20 mph and I don't think it's good advice to just go with the culture in this case. A lot of people in Asia smoke but I'm not going to start again or let my baby in a room full of smokers. I will find a polite, culturally acceptable way around it ("Baby's doctor said her lungs are sensitive to smoke, do you mind if I step outside?").

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#20 of 22 Old 11-26-2008, 08:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Asha+Joy View Post
I've grown quite accustomed to sticking out in India, :: so no worries there.
Of course I know it’s unrealistic in the extreme to try to stop family-aunties grabbing baby. It's the attentions of neighborhood-aunties and strangers I'd like to curtail. From your experience it sounds like keeping her in the sling will help with that, so that’s what we will do.
Just wanted to share my experience babywearing in Bangladesh. It MORTIFIED my in-laws. They said, "What, are you a Chakma lady?" (Meaning am I one of the indigenous people of Bangladesh.) They thought it looked like we are too poor (?) to hold the baby. I did it anyway, especially when I had to go in those minicabs where the baby is unrestrained, figuring it's marginally better protection than holding on the lap. But anyway, it made them so irritated.

I just let the neighborhood aunties and kids have at her and all was well.

My daughter was 13 months when we went to Bangladesh and I agree with whoever said it's best to go before the baby crawls or after 3 or so!
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#21 of 22 Old 11-27-2008, 04:52 AM
 
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Just so you get an idea how crazy the driving is in India see this link and these videos
http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...a&search_type=

These are exactly what I experienced when I was there. I insisted on the carseat even though I was thought to be overprotective, etc. It's crazy not to use a carseat if you have the ability to use one!

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#22 of 22 Old 11-29-2008, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Rasavilasini View Post
wow I just found this thread and it was sooooooo very informative and helpful! I am due with my 1st in May 2009 ...
Rasa, Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! Your first will be coming just at the time we will be TTC our first, and I'm so eager for the time I can write those magic words "I’ll be due in ...". Best of wishes for a happy, healthy pregnancy and birth, you lucky girl.

Isn't it great all the information and help the friends here on the board are willing to give? I’m the only person I know IRL who has to travel to the other side of the world to visit my in-laws, so advice from folks who have BTDT is a gift worth more than gold to me. Everyone who has taken the time really deserves :.

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Originally Posted by Ammaarah View Post
Just wanted to share my experience babywearing in Bangladesh. It MORTIFIED my in-laws. They said, "What, are you a Chakma lady?" (Meaning am I one of the indigenous people of Bangladesh.) They thought it looked like we are too poor (?) to hold the baby. I did it anyway, especially when I had to go in those minicabs where the baby is unrestrained, figuring it's marginally better protection than holding on the lap. But anyway, it made them so irritated.
That sounds really rough. Good for you that you didn’t let them dictate your parenting choices. Multicultural families do so much compromising and balancing, and it can be miserable when the elders don’t want to meet you part way.

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Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
I insisted on the carseat even though I was thought to be overprotective, etc. It's crazy not to use a carseat if you have the ability to use one!
USAmama, that’s just the kick to it, what is available! It’s a bit frustrating. It seems that both of my IL cars only have shoulder belts in the front and no belts in the back. Of course there are no belts in autorickshaws, and I’ve never seen them in buses or trains either. The only place it seems one can reliably find them is in newer taxicabs. We have a carseat with a compatible stroller frame on our baby-equipment list and we will take it with us when we travel, but I really don’t have much hope of being able to use it consistently. I think it’s very much going to be a case of using the safest option available at any given time. I imagine that like Ammaarah, I’ll be using baby’s sling as safety-equipment-of-last-resort more often than I would like, and just living with the staring and comments about babywearing.
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