Tips for Visiting Mexico & the Caribbean with a Baby, Toddler or Young Child

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Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Mexico & the Caribbean with a Baby or Toddler

After our very first family vacation, I was moved to create this website with a mission to inspire, motivate, and help families travel with babies, toddlers, and young children. And a trip to Mexico or the Caribbean with a baby or young child is a wonderful way to escape the cold and fulfill that New Year’s resolution to spend more time with family.

One study by Leger and Valneva determined that nine out of 10 Canadian families plan to travel together. For 40% of these families, it will be their first family vacation. And 18% of the families looking outside of Canada or the US for their first trip choose the Caribbean and Latin America, including Mexico, as their family vacation destinations.

I often suggest a family vacation to Mexico or the Caribbean with a baby as a great first trip. It’s (relatively) easy to get there. It’s affordable, thanks to the number of packaged vacations and accommodation options. And—for the most part—these destinations are safe, clean, and welcoming to children.

Recent headlines about Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases are alarming, but mostly not dangerous unless you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future.  

But all travel with babies and toddlers requires a good deal of planning. These destinations present unique challenges that can be stressful if you’re not prepared. So, I’ve put together these tips for travel to Mexico and the Caribbean with a baby or toddler in tow.

There are four main areas to consider: Eating, Sleeping, Playing, and Getting Around

Mexico and the Caribbean with a Baby: Eating

Feeding a baby at home can be stressful and frustrating, so the notion of feeding a baby on vacation with different food and water can be EXTRA stressful and frustrating. Depending on the stage your baby is at with regard to solids, it may seem just as much work as at home or possibly more… But, in some cases, possibly less!

Travel with a Baby Pre-Solids:

How to sterilize baby bottles in a hotel room sink

A baby still exclusively breastfeeding is the easiest to bring anywhere, since you only need to make sure that mama is well-fed and properly hydrated. But these days, formula and baby bottles travel just fine. If you’re not sure if you can find your preferred brand, bring all your formula mix in your carry-on. After baby is past three months, you can use most kinds of bottled water to mix formula (less than less than 200 mg/litre of sodium, no more than 250mg/litre of sulphate),and if there’s no microwave or kitchenette, you can sterilize baby bottles in a hotel room.

Travel with a Baby Post-Solids:

feeding baby on holiday

Today’s baby food in the foil pouches is SO much more portable than the (heavy, fragile) glass jars I had to lug. Packing a box of instant cereal always ensures a healthy meal.

Once they’ve graduated to finger foods and more complex meals, here’s where eating in Mexico and the Caribbean with a baby can get a little tricky. Scrupulous and vigilant hand washing is essential. (We’re all good at that now!)

But, there is a strain of E. coli bacteria called Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) that is the most common cause of diarrhea in travelers. It is typically found in food that is not adequately cooked as well as in contaminated water and ice. Most large resorts have their own in-house water purification systems. However, a quick consult with your doctor or pharmacist prior to your trip is advised. Discuss your travel vaccination options, since certain vaccines are indicated for children as young as two. If you are at all worried while you are there, stick to the old Peace Corps. adage, “If you can’t peel it or heat it, don’t eat it.”

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My kids loved grazing from the buffets, and choosing their meals as they got older. I did take note of the possible additions of salt and/or sugar that I would never include at home. However, things like plain rice and pasta, bread and butter, and grilled meat and fish—all staples for my kids once they started solids—are abundant and very convenient from resort buffets and restaurants.

With all that said, Mexico and the Caribbean with a baby can be wonderful places to enjoy fresh, locally-grown, tropical fruits and veggies. We would mash banana and avocado in Mexico, my son adored fried plantain in Jamaica, and I’m certain my daughter’s passion for mango is a result of our Caribbean vacations.

Mexico and the Caribbean with a Baby: Sleeping

Baby Travel Sleeping Gear Guide Cribs and Portable Toddler Beds
We didn’t co-sleep, so figuring out sleeping arrangements during trips was a priority!

Depending on where you’re traveling from, one of the best things about traveling to Mexico and the Caribbean with a baby is the lack of (or minimal) time change. It should be easy enough to stick to your usual nap and sleep routines… Although, your baby might have different ideas! Mine would frequently be reluctant to nap in the room. Often they would nap in the stroller or on the beach in the shade.

But even if baby jet lag isn’t an issue, knowing you have a safe place for baby to sleep might be. Since not all hotels and resorts are equipped with appropriate or safe cribs or cots, your own baby travel bed might be worth the investment if you think you’ll be traveling a lot. Co-sleeping and travel may also be challenging. You must ensure the hotel bed and bedding can be made safe for baby.

A trick I found that helped normalize our travel sleeping arrangements was to bring our crib bedding from home. Often I’d just take the sheet right from their bed and stuff it in our suitcase before we left. I think the familiar feel and scent of their own bedding was comforting. I’m sure it helped them fall asleep in a strange bed.

Mexico and the Caribbean with a Baby: Playing

The beaches are like the world’s biggest sandbox, so playing in Mexico and the Caribbean with a baby is usually lots of fun. But one of the reasons we love these destinations is also the biggest danger to our children: THE SUN.

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Beach and sun safety and protecting baby’s skin from the sun is essential. We often slathered our guys in sunscreen and let them crawl around in just a hat. However, we always secured shade in the form of an umbrella or palapa. Babies under six months can’t wear sunscreen, so not only do you need shade, you also need UV swimwear and look into portable baby UV tents and umbrellas as well. Hats are a must; get ones with ties instead of Velcro if your baby hates them like mine would from time to time.

Water safety is also your highest priority. Not all resorts have (or have enough) toddler-sized life jackets, and most don’t have infant ones at all. These are good investments if you love the water. Finding the space in your luggage and bringing your own is wise. But no flotation device will protect your child more than your own vigilance. Always be within arm’s reach when you’re in or near the water.

Fun floaties and small sand toys don’t take up much room in your luggage. They are good to bring along if you’re not sure if your resort will have some to play with on-site. I’ve been surprised at how many don’t!  And a bucket and pail at a hotel gift shop has given me more sticker shock than any car or electronic toy.

Mexico and the Caribbean with a Baby: Getting Around

Chances are you’ll be flying with baby to get where you’re headed, but once you’re there you still need to figure out how you’ll get around. Most package vacations include hotel transfers, and they’re usually via a coach bus where a car seat is not necessary. But if you think you’ll want to get out and explore, even a little, it’s worth the hassle to bring your car seat along.

Travel with a Baby and Car Seat:

We made the (relatively small) investment in a travel car seat, which we also used in Grandma’s car at home. Travel with a car seat is a pain in the butt, but even if it sat in our hotel room unused, we have never regretted bringing ours along. And frankly you’re taking a chance if you rent a car seat from a car rental agency. You have no idea of that car seat’s history, or even if it will be legal or clean.

Public Transportation with a Baby:

In some places, public transportation is modern and clean and air-conditioned. In some places it is NOT. Taxis are hit and miss in a lot of smaller destinations. If you come across a good one, take your driver’s contact information! If you want to go sightseeing or do a day trip, you’re better off hiring a taxi or private car. You can go at your own pace and install your car seat. It probably won’t cost much more, either.

Getting Around on Foot:

Getting around Mexico and the Caribbean with a baby on foot can also be challenging since sidewalks and roads are not always what we would consider stroller-friendly. Umbrella strollers are great for zipping around airports and most hotels, but if you’re hoping to hit the beach and stroll around some local towns, it’s worth the effort to bring along a decent stroller that can handle rough roads. Our jogging stroller was awkward and heavy and bulky, but we loved having it with us since it handled cobblestones and jagged pavement with ease and–since my kids were comfortable in it–we could walk around and meander for much longer than if they were in a smaller stroller.

A soft carrier or sling is great to have to get through the airport and to keep baby close for naps. However, you both will overheat if you use it for any length of time during the mid-day heat, even if you’re out of the sun.

Have a question about vacations in Mexico or the Caribbean with a baby, toddler, or young child in tow? Please get in touch! Leave a comment here, or reach out via Facebook or Twitter.

See Also:

This post was written with support from Valneva Canada. As always, all opinions remain my own.

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31 Responses to Tips for Visiting Mexico & the Caribbean with a Baby, Toddler or Young Child

  1. Jewels at #

    Thanks for all this! Just wondering if there are any special vaccines parents and children should take particularly before Mexico travel? I’ve always vaccinated my kids with their regular developmental shots, but we have never been to a tropical vacation so I wasn’t sure if we needed anything. Please share what you did 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Traveling is really a good thing in life,infact it’s everything

  3. This place seems just perfect for a summer holiday, Corinne!

  4. Raquel at #

    We were planning a little trip with our kids (ages 2, 5 and 7) and I was a little worried about keeping up their schedules especially their sleep time. I think packing their own bed sheets will do the trick and get them to sleep without a fuss. Definitely a good idea.

  5. Mary at #

    Travelling with kids is a very good idea. But my children are only 1 and 2 years old. Is that a good idea to take a decision now to travel with the family in Mexico?

  6. Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. Very good write-up. I certainly love this website. Thanks!

  7. I am hoping this site is still active. We are planning a trip to Bacalar Mexico with 6 year old and 2.5 year old. I
    Am hoping someone can give me some insight on whether this is a good idea. Thank you so much

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Marlene! Totally still active 🙂 I think it’s a great idea. Where are you thinking of staying?

  8. Beth at #

    Hi, I am going to be a new mom soon, and my family is planning a family trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My mom is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and we wanted to take a trip before things got worse for her. A lot of people told me they don’t recommend taking a 6 month old there due to recent accounts of polio which I haven’t heard or seen anything. What is your suggestion???

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Beth,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s illness. I haven’t heard anything about a polio resurgence in Mexico. Playa Del Carmen would be a good destination because there are a number of international hospitals in the area. At 5mos your baby should have already had 3 rounds of vaccinations and if you breastfeed they will have a boosted immune system as well. Take care and I hope you are able to spend this quality time with your mom.

  9. Cidney at #

    Hi Corinne,
    We are taking our 6 month old to Cancun for our first family vacation. I was wondering what you sugges to do about diapers and if swim diapers are worth purchasing. Thanks!

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Cidney!
      I would definitely bring swim diapers. They may not be necessary at the beach but you will likely need them if you want to bring your baby into the pool. Have a great vacation!

  10. I thought that our dream (my husband and I) to travel shattered when we had our baby. But seeing your blog Corinne gives us hope. Our baby is not a hindrance. We could still enjoy traveling with her.

  11. Beth at #

    Hi! We have annual family trip that we go to Mexico in December, and wondering thoughts of bringing our newborn who will be just about 2.5 months at the time with us. I do plan in breastfeeding and we have been to the resort dozens of times. Also concerned about potential vaccines baby would need, wouldnt want to give the baby vaccinations too early.

    • Corinne at #

      Hi Beth,
      At 2.5mos. your baby should have their first round of regular shots. Nothing more would be necessary or required. Keep nursing and protect baby from the sun and bug bites, and all should be fine. Have a great trip!

  12. Pradish at #

    Thanks for the concise summary on this Topic. Noted down

  13. Great tips! Thanks for sharing the knowledge and keep up the good work.

  14. Thanks for all the tips! We are hoping to head over to Mexico and Carribean next year. Our little one will be a toddler and hopefully be toilet trained by then 🙂 Found your post really helpful for planning.

  15. Hi Corinne,
    There are so many dimensions in which a toddler needs. It’s definitely true that parent need attention on it. you wrote a great helpful guideline.

  16. jennifer at #

    There are some interesting points in time in this article. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article, thanks and I want more! Added to my Feed as well.

  17. I appreciate your skills and style in elaborating on the topic. It bound the reader for long. I have liked everything that I have read in the article so far. Nice content.

  18. There are so many great tips here. You are absolutely right about taking a good stroller along. It makes such a difference when you arrive in a destination and is well worth the effort

  19. tito21 at #

    Travelling with kids is a very good idea. But my children are only 1 and 2 years old. Is that a good idea to take a decision now to travel with the family in Mexico?

    • Corinne at #

      Honestly it’s a great age — the actual travel is the trying bit but everything else is worth the work.

  20. It’s hard to do any tour while keeping a baby, but you explained it very well and share amazing tips to do it. Thank you for sharing your article.

  21. gmail at #

    Hi! We take a family trip to Mexico every year in December, and we’re wondering if we should bring our baby, who will be about 2.5 months old at the time. We have been to the resort dozens of times and I do plan to breastfeed. Also worried about any vaccines the baby might need, because they don’t want to give the baby shots too soon.

    • Corinne at #

      I would totally do it. No shots necessary for baby and if you feel up for it, the change of scenery might be nice 🙂

  22. Karen at #

    Hello! We are debating on traveling to Mexico, however we have an 11 month old baby who is extremely active/crawling and I am worried about being at a resort with no beach (at the marina) and her wanting to crawl everywhere. I know its pavement and pools, and then tiled floors etc!

    • Corinne at #

      I would definitely try to find a resort with a beach or at least somewhere where she can safely scoot about on her own. Trouble with lawns/grass in Mexico is it’s sometimes sharp and full of bitey ants 🙁

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