Your baby and toddler essentials in Thailand
Water Quality in Thailand
The quality of the water in Thailand is low and it is important that your baby only drinks bottled water. Bottled water is available everywhere in Thailand but please be mindful of the fact that it can be overpriced in hotels and it is cheaper to buy it in the local shops and markets. Remember to boil bottled water for infants when making formula. Most good hotels will have a kettle in the room.
Breastfeeding in Thailand
Thailand is a modest country. Children and babies are welcome everywhere, however, breastfeeding should be done out of public view and as discreetly as possible.
Buying Baby Food, Formula & Nappies in Thailand
Tesco Lotus and many other departments store supermarkets sell formula and nappies but you may not be able to get what your baby is used to here. It is always safer to bring your formula with you. You can also buy baby foods and some sell imported organic fruit products also. These tend to be much more expensive than at home so keep this in mind if you plan to buy food for your baby in Thailand. The 7/11 shops located on almost every street sell small packets of nappies and local formula. Be aware that you probably won’t be able to read the instructions on the carton but you should be able to ask someone in your hotel to assist you with this.
Nappies can be purchased in most department stores or in Tesco Lotus or the local 7/11 stores. Pampers tend to be expensive however local brands are fine and you can buy these in most local stores. Swim nappies may be harder to find and you might want to take these with you. You will need to bring equipment or products to help you sterilise younger children’s bottles.
Baby Carriers and Strollers
Ideally you will have both a stroller and sling (baby carrier) with you on your trip. You might want to bring a smaller fold up stroller for older children however it is very handy in the evenings to have a comfortable stroller so that they can sleep while you eat out. A sling is also a very useful thing to have for sightseeing. In many parts of Thailand including Chiang Mai and Bangkok the footpaths are of a low quality or in some cases are non-existent. This makes it very inaccessible for strollers. It would be advisable to bring a lightweight sling if possible to prevent your baby from overheating. For information on lightweight slings and strollers click here.
Sleeping & Clothing
You should bring a light grow bag if your baby is used to them. The cots offered by hotels are generally travel cots with sheets and a baby duvet or blanket on them. A blanket might also be useful for the plane. Cots vary in standard in hotels however most 4 and 5 star hotels will either have Western style travel cots or comfortable wooden cots. For further tips on helping your baby to sleep while travelling click here.
Light clothing is essential and it is handy to have a combination of vests, full baby grows and other light clothes. If there are mosquitos where you are going you may wish to cover your baby’s arms, legs and feet in the evenings prevent bites. A light cardigan or hoody would be useful for the evenings as some parts of Thailand can be cool at night especially in the winter months. The air conditioning tends to be turned up high in most hotels and restaurants also so make sure you carry something to keep your baby warm when you go indoors. A hat is also a must to protect your child from the sun.
Thai roads are notoriously dangerous with a large number of deaths each year. It is vital that you use a car seat when travelling by car. Taxis in Thailand will generally have a seat belt in the back if you plan to bring your own car seat however this may be cumbersome and you can also arrange for taxis with car seats. Tuk tuks are everywhere in Thailand although it would not be advisable to use these with a baby or young child as they are open and exposed and extremely dangerous if an accident occurs.
Using Hotel Babysitting Services in Thailand
Using a babysitter abroad would not be for everyone but it is your decision. Most good hotels in Thailand will offer babysitting services with experienced babysitters. If you decide to use these services it would be advisable to ask the hotel as much as possible about the babysitter. Police vetting is not carried out in Thailand and most babysitters are mothers themselves but may not be professionally qualified in childcare or trained in first aid. If you are going out at night, ask to meet the babysitter earlier in the day and introduce them to your child. Ask them about their experience and make sure they are qualified to mind your little one. For information on using babysitting services when abroad and a checklist of questions to ask a babysitter click here.
Health & Wellbeing
Make sure you take out travel insurance to cover your entire journey, including your travel days. If you suspect illness always see a doctor and don’t take any chances. If possible stay in one of the areas with good medical care. The hospitals in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Phuket all have excellent medical facilities and doctors that speak English. If you are staying on one of the islands have a look at how long the ferry service takes to take you to the mainland where there are medical facilities and check that the schedule is regular.
Ear infections are common in Thailand due to the humidity so ensure you dry ears thoroughly after swimming and bathing. Also, ear infections can cause complications when flying so see a doctor if you suspect one prior to a flight.
In general, pharmacies are open from 09:00-21:00, although some smaller pharmacies may be open before or after these times. There are Boots pharmacies located throughout Thailand and most tourist areas will have pharmacies with English speaking assistants.
Mosquito repellent, a mosquito patch and or a mosquito bracelet and a mosquito net are a must in Thailand, especially if your baby is going to be out in the evenings. Mosquitos and other insects can bite even if they do not pose a malarial risk, particularly in the evenings. Many restaurants and markets are outdoors and the risk of being bitten is higher. Click here for further information on insect protection and how to deal with bites.
Remember that there is rabies in Thailand so don’t let your child pet any dogs, cats or any other little creatures that you might come across.
Ensure that you bring sunblock for babies, many brands of sun block cannot be used on babies under the age of 6 months and therefore it is important to ensure that their skin is protected by keeping them away from direct sunlight and using UV protected clothing. Very light babygrows and vests might let the sun’s rays through so be mindful of this also even when you think your baby is completely covered. It is useful to buy swimwear with long sleeves also as this will protect your baby while in the water. Make sure that you also bring a sun hat for your baby as their heads can burn very quickly. A parasol will assist in keeping the sun off your baby’s skin and certain ones can be attached to your baby’s buggy. A UV protected small sun tent can be purchased for the beach. For further information on protecting your baby from the sun click here.
The NHS advises to consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets. Babies cannot take antimalarial drugs and parts of Thailand pose a risk for malaria and dengue fever so if you decide to travel to these places you will need to take other precautions to protect your little one. Make sure that you speak to your GP six weeks before travelling to ensure that you have all the necessary information. For tips on protection against mosquito bites, click here.
A good first aid kit is essential for any trip abroad. Click here for advice on first aid and how to treat minor injuries, burns and bites yourself.
Many good hotels will have a doctor that they can contact if your child becomes ill or will be able to direct you to the appropriate hospital. If you need to reach an English-speaking operator where a crime has been committed call the Tourist Police, who speak English or in the case of an accident you can call an ambulance from one of the many international hospitals in Thailand.
Tourist Police 1155
Police (General Emergency Call) 191
Ambulance and Rescue 1554
Contact your consular service or embassy if you have been a victim of crime, arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, if you or anyone in your family has a serious illness. Consular offices also provide help in the case of a lost or stolen passport. The contact number for the Irish Consul in Bangkok is +66 2 632 6720 and the number for the British Embassy is +66 2 305 8333.