It can be pretty intimidating to bring your baby to Central America. As a father of a young daughter and with friends who have children, I’m always concerned with safety and feasibility when traveling.
Traveling in Costa Rica with a baby is surprisingly easy.
Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned while exploring and living in this country over the years:
- Bring Your Baby’s Birth Certificate
- Find a Direct Flight
- Carrying Your Baby
- Buy Bottled Water
- Wear Nursing Friendly Clothes
- Keep Your Baby Warm
- Protect Your Baby From The Sun
- Pack Baby-Friendly Snacks
- Find Baby Friendly Beaches
Baby Traveling Basics
Having a baby means making sacrifices. It’s not unheard of for soon-to-be parents to move to a kid-friendly neighborhood, trade in their sports car for a more practical sedan, and sometimes even face the tough decision of leaving their job. But does becoming a parent also signify having to retire your adventurous spirit?
Absolutely not! Traveling with a baby might require a little extra thought, planning, and caution; but it can also be a rewarding and empowering experience for you and your family.
Costa Rica is an excellent destination for people with children because it is safe, family oriented and filled with breathtaking beaches, charming cities, and majestic mountains that are sure to satisfy the whole family.
If you’re a new parent who is dreaming of a Costa Rican getaway, here are some tips that can help you juggle parenting without giving up on your pursuit of wanderlust.
Bring Your Baby’s Birth Certificate
Assuming that you will be flying to Costa Rica, it is essential to bring your baby’s birth certificate along for the ride. Although the Transportation Security Administration does not require children under 18 who are traveling with an adult to carry their own form of identification, not bringing your baby’s birth certificate can end up costing you some big bucks.
Because babies under two are allowed to fly for free, many airlines require proof of your child’s age to help ensure that you aren’t taking advantage of the free flight policy.
Failure to prove your child’s age can result in the airline requiring you to purchase a separate seat for your child, so take a moment to pack a copy (it doesn’t have to be the original document) and err on the side of caution.
Find a Direct Flight to Costa Rica
Even the most frugal individuals will agree; it’s worth every penny to take a direct flight when you’re traveling with a baby. Switching terminals and napping next to a Panda Express during a 5-hour layover is hardly tolerable to adults, let alone infants.
Not only does the change in altitude sometimes cause babies severe discomfort, but airports are also very stimulating environments that can leave your baby feeling fussy and overwhelmed for the duration of your journey.
By minimizing travel time, you are also reducing the risk of your infant being exposed to germs and viruses commonly found in airports.
Thankfully, most major international airports in the United States have direct flights to Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, the two main airports in Costa Rica.
Carrying Your Baby
If you haven’t already discovered the magic of babywearing, now is the time. Babywearing is the practice of literally wearing your baby in a sling or other kind of carrier, and is perfect for traveling.
Babywearing allows parents to give their babies the same comfort and sense of security as being held while freeing up your hands so you can fully enjoy the sensory experience of your trip.
These devices are perfect for almost every traveling occasion; such as hiking in Santa Rosa National park, shopping in Dominical, or taking a relaxing stroll on one of Costa Rica’s 300 beaches and 800 miles of coastline.
Buy Bottled Water
Tap water in Costa Rica is drinkable in most of the country, aside from a few rural and underdeveloped regions. However, individuals with sensitive stomachs, infants, and the immunocompromised are still advised to err on the side of caution and stick to bottled water.
If you’re formula feeding your baby or like to offer your baby water alone, be sure to stock up on bottled water to bring with you everywhere you go. By utilizing bottled water, you will eliminate the risk of your baby getting cholera, typhoid, dysentery, or any other waterborne illness.
If for whatever reason you don’t have access to bottled water, another option is to boil tap water vigorously as an effective means of water purification.
Wear Nursing Friendly Clothes
If you’re a breast feeding mom, be sure to be mindful about what you pack to wear on your trip.
That super cute romper that you envisioned yourself wearing on the beach might not seem so attractive when you’re accidentally exposing yourself on a bus to Alajuela while trying to nurse a hysterical toddler.
Dresses and blouses with buttons tend to work well for nursing moms and make feeding on the go discreet and convenient. Also, consider carrying a nursing cover with you at all times, just in case you are unable to find a private place to nurse and find yourself at the mercy of a demanding and hungry baby.
Keeping Your Baby Warm
Even if you’re traveling to Costa Rica during one of the warmer months, be sure to pack some long sleeve shirts, pants, and socks for your baby to wear.
Because the safety of most commercial bug sprays has not been tested on infants, clothing will be the most effective repellent against mosquitos and other insects during your travels.
Although the Costa Rica government takes mosquito-borne illnesses very seriously and is continuously working to eradicate the risk of exposure, there are still some mosquito-borne threats to remain mindful of.
The three main concerns in Costa Rica are:
- Zika Virus,
- Dengue Fever
Keeping your baby’s skin wholly covered, not venturing too deep into the rainforest and not conjugating near pools of standing water are the best ways to minimize the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness.
Protect Your Baby From The Sun
Packing sunscreen for your Costa Rica adventure might seem like a no-brainer, but many parents are surprised to learn that sunscreen is not recommended for babies under six months by the Food and Drug Administration.
This is because babies tend to have more sensitive skin as well as a lower body-weight to surface-area ratio compared to adults and older children, which increases the chance of irritation and other side effects.
Because keeping your baby out of the sun might not always be an option in Costa Rica’s tropical climate, be sure to bring a hat and breathable, cotton clothing to keep your baby protected from the sun’s harmful rays.
Many beach-bound parents also invest in a pop-up tent, so young babies can enjoy the beach with their parents while bypassing the risk of developing a sunburn.
Pack Baby Friendly Snacks
Although Costa Rica cuisine has vibrant entrees guaranteed to satisfy every appetite, babies can be particularly stringent food critics. More than likely, your baby will be excited to try all the local produce and fresh seafood that Costa Rica has to offer, but it’s always good to be prepared just in case you find yourself lacking immediate access to food, or just want to be extra cautious in avoiding potential allergens.
Consider traveling with a ziplock bag full of non-perishable foods such as dried fruit, crackers, or teething biscuits, so you always have something to offer your baby as needed.
Find Baby Friendly Beaches
If you’re planning on spending some shore time in Costa Rica, be sure to select beach destinations that are family friendly. Although Costa Rica’s stunning Pacific coastline is a world-class surf destination, your baby probably isn’t quite ready to hang ten.
Instead, consider spending time in the Gulf of Nicoya or Costa Rica’s calmer Caribbean coast, where you and your baby can wade in the clear blue water without having to worry about rip tides.
Playa Blanca, Playa Chiquita, and Punta Uva are three of many great Costa Rican beach options for travelers with young children.
Location matters more than usual when you’re traveling with a baby. It is essential to find a destination with a variety of family-friendly activities without compromising safety, convenience, and comfort.
Thanks to its gorgeous geography, hospitable tourism industry, and laid back vibe, Costa Rica is the perfect destination for new parents who are in dire need of a little pura vida.