Traveling to the Caribbean - with a Baby!
There are a million and one blog posts out there about traveling with a baby, but for whatever reason I could not find anything out there about traveling with a baby specifically to the Caribbean.
As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect. We've been to the Caribbean several times, but never with a baby or even to a resort that allows babies. We've always gone to adults-only all-inclusive resorts, so I didn't know things like... do the resorts have diapers/swim diapers available? What about cribs and formula? (Lucy is breastfed, but I wondered just in case.) Is a car seat necessary for the ride to and from the airport?
So I'm here to share what I learned for other mommas who may be planning a Caribbean vacation with your baby! And even if not to the Caribbean, something here may help you in planning another vacation too! :)
I'll start off by saying the resort we stayed at was not necessarily geared towards children. It allowed them to be there, but it didn't cater to them like say, a Disney resort would be or how I imagine the Beaches resorts are, etc. If that makes sense. So a resort that is more accommodating to children vs. just allowing them to be there may be a lot more prepared for babies. Also, this particular resort was a lot cheaper than the adults-only ones we have stayed at in the past. I say this because now I can say from experience, you get what you pay for! This resort was fine for the price, but it definitely lacked a lot of what the other resorts we've been to offered, so I imagine a more expensive kid friendly resort may offer more as well, although I can't say that for certain. :)
So! Since I didn't know the answers to the above questions, I just prepared for anything and everything.
Lucy had her own entire suitcase, plus all of this stuff in my tote bag:
(The hats and sunglasses were mine, but I took this to share what all I packed in my tote bag.)
My packing list for Lucy:
- clothes - I brought enough outfits for her to have 2-3 for each day and I brought enough pajamas for every night... because you never know when spit up or a diaper blowout will happen and we didn't have access to do laundry. This is probably where I over-packed for her the most, but that's mostly because she doesn't spit up very often and blowouts are rare... we can usually make it through the day without a wardrobe change and I knew this when packing, but some days we change 3 or 4 times. You just never know! Luckily her clothes are small and don't take up much space ;)
- swim suits - I brought one for each day but that wasn't out of necessity, it was out of cuteness ;)
- hats - I learned while preparing for our trip that babies under 6 months aren't supposed to wear sunscreen (but I still brought some.. more on that below) so I brought a lot of sun hats.
- blankets - I brought a crib sheet and a muslin blanket that she always sleeps with because I didn't know what kind of linens the resort would provide for the crib. Turns out they didn't provide any, but their crib was weird so Lucy ended up sleeping with us anyway.
- a full pack of diapers & wipes - if we were traveling within the States I would have only packed enough for us to get to our destination and then bought diapers and wipes once we got there.
- 5 reusable swim diapers - I preferred these but didn't want to spend a ton (they're about $10/each) because we don't need 50 pairs of them for our everyday lives... so I bought 5 (one for each full day we were there) and it actually ended up being enough for us because we weren't in the water a ton.
- a pack of swim diapers - I still brought along a pack of these, even though the smallest size I could find were for 16lb+ babies (AKA too big for Lucy!), since I wasn't sure if we'd have enough reusable swim diapers. We ended up not needing them.
- formula & bottles - Lucy is pretty much exclusively breastfed (only gets a bottle when Josh or my mom is watching her and I'm not around to feed her -- I rarely pump), but I wasn't sure if there would be a need for it, for whatever reason, while we were there - so I brought it. We ended up not using it at all.
- sunscreen - as I mentioned, it's not recommended for babies under 6 months to use sunscreen, but I consulted a couple of my super smart doctor friends and they all consented that the recommendation is mostly because they don't want babies under 6 months to have prolonged exposure to the sun (i.e. they shouldn't be in a situation where they need sunscreen anyway), so I did bring some because - duh, we were going to the Caribbean. Even I burn there sometimes! I bought this sunscreen - organic and made of zinc oxide, which is supposed to sit on top of their skin instead of sinking in.
- bug spray - same thing as sunscreen, not recommended for under 6 months, but I brought it just in case. We never needed to use it, but this is the one I bought.
- a swim floatie - this is the one I bought, because it provided shade and the reviews said it worked well for smaller babies also. We didn't end up using it at all, since we didn't spend a lot of time in the water, and when we did we just stayed in the baby pool.
- car seat - there are no car seat laws in the Caribbean, but for obvious reasons we still wanted her to be buckled in. We borrowed Josh's sister's car seat since her babies have outgrown it and I didn't want to risk our's getting damaged or lost. I bought this bag to put it in to help protect it and make it easy to spot... worked great!
So that's what we packed, over-packed, used, and didn't use!
Over all, I'm a bit of an over-packer anyway (if you can count someone who travels with only carry-on luggage an over-packer!) so I knew I'd probably bring more than we needed, but my philosophy was - I'd rather have it and not need it, than not have it and need it and not be able to get it in a different country.
If we were to go again I don't know that I'd really pack any differently... even with the stuff we took and didn't use. Under different circumstances - a different age baby, a different time of year, etc - we may have needed different things.
So, I hope this helps someone else out! I could literally find zero info about traveling to the Caribbean with a baby, even when I posted on different travel message boards, so if anyone has any questions feel free to reach out! :)