Our first international trip with my son was to Mexico when he was 5 months old. We picked Mexico in part because of its easy proximity to the American West (where we live), as well as it being a country both my partner and I have been to many times.
Coincidentally it was also my first International trip, but at 15 years old.
Looking back, in some ways it was a great opener to our international travels with our baby, but there are also some BIG precautions to consider and things to know before traveling with a baby in Mexico. Here’s what we learned:
Picking the Right Spot in Mexico with Your Baby
I’ve visited so many beautiful places in Mexico over my visits, from the sun-drenched coastline of Baja California to the glittering cenotes of the Yucatan. But for this visit, we went back to a quiet spot on the Pacific coast we’d visited together before having our baby – San Pancho, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta.
With a young baby who was still napping quite a bit and eating frequently, plus with me having to exclusively pump while traveling, we decided to pick a trip that had no logistics, and just rented a beach house in a quiet area. Each evening, we walked the mile to town on the sand for dinner. Apart from the unfortunate construction noise from time to time, it was peaceful and beautiful.
I recommend going easy on yourself, especially if it’s your first time traveling internationally with a young baby, and pick a spot you can base out of without moving around too much.
Many travelers to Mexico with young kids just do an all-inclusive resort for this reason. If you’re not the biggest fan of these, there are also gorgeous vacation rentals and hotels to chose from all over Mexico. I recommend:
- Todos Santos, Baja California Sur,
- San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
- Isla Holbox or Bacalar, Yucatan Peninsula
- Riviera Nayarit
Avoid border towns like Tijuana and Juarez, and areas with cartel activity like Acapulco, Colima, Zamora, Uruapan and Celaya. In recent years, Cancun and Playa del Carmen have seen an increase in crime as well.
Mexico Baby Friendliness
Having been to 10 countries now with my son, I wouldn’t say Mexico is the most baby friendly. I only say this because you’re not going to find family-specific lines at customs or the airport, changing tables are hard to find, and unless you’re in a resort or high end restaurant, high chairs aren’t all that available, either.
And not that this matters, but our baby got so much attention in other places we’ve traveled to (he was a bona fide celebrity in Japan), but might as well have been invisible in Mexico.
It’s pretty similar to the United States in that regard, where there are no family lines, and not a lot done to be baby friendly, I’m afraid. This is such a big contrast to Portugal, where it is an actual law that families with children under two can cut every single line. It’s honestly one of the best places to travel with a baby!
None of this is a big deal and didn’t hamper our enjoyment of the trip. Bring along a travel high chair and be prepared to shamelessly cut customs lines (I always do with our son and I’m not sorry) and you’ll be fine.
Getting Baby Items in Mexico
Buying baby food, wipes, and diapers in Mexico is easy. There are plenty of big box stores like Costco, and I have even seen baby food and diapers at smaller fruiterias in San Pancho town.
Formula is also widely available, and as I’ve seen abroad most of the time, is much cheaper than in the US.
We pretty much always pack enough of our nice, absorbent Coterie diapers for overnights and long travel days, then supplement with whatever we can find on the road. I have yet to find anything as good as Coterie (read my review), but daytimes are usually alright with any diaper.
Feeding Your Baby in Mexico
If you’re breastfeeding, I got the impression that openly doing so, even without a cover, is not a problem in Mexico. As mentioned above, finding formula is easy as well, though if you’re using a specialized kind, you’ll want to bring formula from home for your trip. Use bottled water for formula as tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink.
If you’re pumping like I was, be careful when it comes to washing bottles and using water for sterilizing. I recommend booking accommodation that has a water filtration and reverse osmosis system, as ours did. If that’s not available to you, wash with hot, soapy water, then rinse with bottled. I also brought along microwave steam bags to further sanitize my pump and bottle parts. I highly recommend wearable pumps for the flight and trip. It saved my sanity!
If you’re doing baby-led weaning, you’ll find plenty of fresh produce at fruiterias, and can supplement with food out and about, like grilled veggies, grilled meat, and beans. Although we were not on solids yet when we traveled to Mexico with my son, what gives me pause is the amount of times I or someone I know has gotten sick on the food in Mexico. I’ve been to 60 countries, and never have I gotten worse food poisoning than in Mexico, even at nicer resorts. With my baby, I’d be extra cautious and try to steam veggies and fruits in our own kitchen with a baby food maker, or rely on more puree than I normally would.
I also always bring along extra snacks and food from home for my son, particularly since we have allergies to consider.
Getting Around Mexico with a Baby
Although big cities in Mexico have sidewalks (I’ve seen plenty in Cancun), smaller towns may not be stroller friendly, or might be more cobblestone than smooth pavement. I’ve seen a mix over my visits, so we opted to just use a baby carrier rather than a travel stroller, though they can be super helpful at the airport.
For getting from point A to B, I’ve often just rented a car in Mexico. It can be a scammy experience, so I like to have a cancelable reservation, then see if they try to jack up the price in person. If so, I’ll shop around and haggle to see what I can find. If you’d like to avoid that, many areas have Uber, and you can organize transport through your hotel or accommodation as well. Depending on your Spanish proficiency and adventurousness, public buses will also work, but that’s never been appealing to me with all of our baby gear in tow.
I recommend bringing a car seat with you for baby’s safety. Car seat laws vary in Mexico and plenty of locals opt not to use one, but I always prefer to travel with ours. At the time, we used an Uppababy Mesa and it was great to quickly install.
Water, Sun, and Mosquito Safety
Part of our reasoning for choosing Nayarit was my memory that there were fewer mosquitoes there than on the Caribbean side. We didn’t want to worry about mosquito repellant for such a little baby, but if you’re visiting an area with mozzies, just be sure to bring along a mosquito net for their travel crib (we have one of our Guava Lotus), and repellent that is safe for babies. Bring along sunscreen and a sun hat as well.
Be careful with the ocean, as currents can be strong and waves can seemingly come out of nowhere. Be similarly careful with pools, and always keep doors locked and ideally the pool gate closed, if there is one.
Final Thoughts on Mexico with a Baby
Although I would not hesitate to return to Mexico with a baby, there are certainly easier places to travel with a little one. Japan had so many parent-friendly amenities, we never had to want for a changing table, and Portugal with its laws for families made it such an easy place to travel.
We’ve also been on plenty of vacations where it was even harder with a baby, including Namibia and South Africa when we took him on safari. It was still so worth it, even if we didn’t find changing tables and had to bring all of our own baby gear along.
You can certainly make it easier on yourself by staying at a resort that caters to families with kids, but you can also make it easy on yourself by staying at a vacation rental with some amenities and eating food in town. Renting and driving a car isn’t that difficult in Mexico, either, so with a bit of adventurousness, you can have a fun, easy, affordable vacation there.
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