By: Kerrie Olejarz
Here is our list of must-haves when picking up a baby in India…
Lots of onesies – you will mostly wash by hand, and since it is so humid and space is limited, it is better to have too many than not enough.
We used the little baby face cloths more than the actual burp cloths/receiving blankets, as the baby is so tiny and the burp spit up is so little. Going back to laundry, it is much easier to wash and dry the small face cloths than the larger heavy cotton burp cloths.
Muslin blankets for swaddling, sleeping, travelling, wiping up, you name it! We chose the Adan & Anais brand and were more than impressed. Not only were they nice and cool for baby, they washed and dried very easily. We took four with us and used them every day.
If you live in a country that has the Playtex Dropins available, take this bottle system with you. It contains disposable liners, so you only have to sterilize nipples and hand-wash the bottle base, ring, and caps. Having this system made clean up and prep of bottles super easy. Also using these bottles made travelling to various appointments or sightseeing simple, as we only had to carefully pack sterile nipples in a ziplock bag and ensure the liners were also sealed in a ziplock bag.
A few different pacifiers if you think you want to use one. We took five brands and the only one our baby took to, and still prefers, was Wubbanub. This is an amazing pacifier that is one piece so there is no choking hazard and each one has a toy attached to it for baby to snuggle with. Love, love , love them!!!
We took newborn diapers with us and when we ran out and used the local Pampers and Huggies, we noticed a substantial decrease in absorption. If you can pack enough diapers from home, you will not regret it! Our baby got a diaper rash almost instantly upon switching; yet, once we returned home and got back to our local diapers, she never had a rash again.
Wipes are readily available in India, and we found many that were non-alcohol based and gentle on baby’s tender bum.
Feel free to bring with you items you feel you may need or prefer – like specific diaper rash creams, gentle laundry soap, cradle cap lotions/oils, formula, colic remedies, shampoos and lotions –although we found that many of these are available and quite cheap to purchase in India. We purchased colic remedy and nasal saline drops at the pharmacy in the hospital for a total of 82 rupees (about $1.60 CDN).
For Moms and Dads:
If travelling to New Delhi in any month except December and January, pack light clothing, easily hand washed and dried. Try not to stress about “fitting in” as most surrogacy clinics are in the large cities and western wear is quite common. In New Delhi the majority of local men and women we saw were in jeans and t-shirts and shoes were typical sandals or flip flops. Of course, do not dress in a skimpy or provocative manner when out in public – keep that for your hotel! In December and January the days are quite nice but the nights get very cool, and you will need long pants and sweaters as most places do not have central heating. When I was in New Delhi in December, the nights dropped to 10 Celsius! Mumbai tends to stay hot all year so no need to worry about packing warmer clothes.
Ensure you have all your country-specific paperwork and document copies before leaving home. Scan and email them to yourself just in case you misplace one you can easily print off at a local shop, or your hotel business centre. Be sure you have everything you need and then some – not having the proper citizenship back-up will cost you more days in India and more money! Prior to leaving home, make photocopies of your passport, visas, birth certificate, and marriage certificate. All hotels in India require a copy of your passport and visa, so handing them a copy makes checking in a lot quicker!
Keep a list of important phone numbers handy at all times. We had a list that contained our taxi service, the doctor’s cell phone and some of her staff cell phones, our immigration liaison, the Canadian High Commission, our travel agent back home, and the phone number and address of the B and B we were staying at. We added to this list the address of the doctor’s office and the hospital so we could easily show rickshaw and taxi drivers the address despite any language barrier.
A diaper bag that works for you! You really do not know what works for you when it is your first baby, but take what feels right. We opted to use a knapsack style and it was awful!! Upon leaving India, I purchased a large open bag to use on the plane to make the trip home less frustrating. The $50.00 bag paid off and we both felt our frustration level diminish thanks to the bag! We still use the bag now at home, and love it!
When travelling to New Delhi, or any other place in India, the clinic staff should be able to help guide you to the best places to shop for what you need. In New Delhi there are loads of baby shops with very affordable clothing, wipes, diapers etc. Talk to your friends and hear their absolute must-haves and decide if you think you want or need it. We had advice from one friend to take calendula cream for diaper rash and since we tend to go the natural route this made sense to us. When our baby girl did get a diaper rash, the calendula cream really did help it heal very quickly and we were very thankful for the suggestion!
And remember, it’s not the end of the world if your forget something at home; you can get a substitute easily. Enjoy the baby pick up process. They are only that little for such a short time and every moment is precious! The stress of embassy visits and DNA testing can take over your every thought if you let it…but this will overshadow the pure little bundle of joy, your miracle baby, and you will never get these moments back. Take it in stride, laugh at the craziness, and have a glass of wine!