There are lots of water-borne diseases that baby can be exposed to, whether you are hiking in the U.S. or traveling to a developing country. With proper precautions, you can protect baby from many of these illnesses. The following five tips are precautions that I take to keep my baby protected from water- and food-borne disease, to varying degrees depending where I am. For example, I am much more cautious about eating out in India than I am in the U.S. or South Africa. I use my judgment.
1) I breastfeed as much as possible. At 14 months my baby is eating mostly solids, but I still breastfeed her as it is a great source of hydration for her. It also minimizes her exposure to other drinks, water, and hence water-borne disease. Breastfeeding is also a great way to re-hydrate baby in case of diarrhea.
2) I make it standard practice to sterilize all baby spoons, cups, dishes, bottles and breast pump parts (if I am working and need to be pumping milk). If you use any sort of bottle brush for cleaning, sterilize that too. All it requires is a big pot and a stove or fire. After washing everything in soap and hot water, I fill a large pot with water, throw everything into the water, and boil everything for about 5-7 minutes. Done. Another option (if you have access to a microwave) is using sterilization bags.
3) At restaurants and out and about, be cautious about being served any water or ice, and especially for baby make sure you purchase bottled water, or bring your own boiled water for mixing formula, or giving to baby or child, etc. For older toddlers or children, it might be best to carry with you your own juice/ drinks depending where you are, unless you can order juice in a box or water from a bottle, for example, from where you are eating.
4) I try to cook at home as much as possible and minimize eating out at restaurants when I’m in countries with baby, such as India, where food and water can be a bit more sketchy than in other places. However, exposing baby and kids to new cuisines can be part of the fun of international travel. For older babies, toddlers, and children that are eating solid foods, be cautious about food that is prepared in restaurants and hotels. Food may be prepared with contaminated water, or the food itself may become contaminated. I avoid street food and vendors and try to go
5) I am also cautious about potential swallowing of water during bath-time, because Veda loves to splash and gulp down bath water. I watch her carefully, and allow splashing on the face if she’s having fun, but I make sure to stop her if she tries putting her mouth or face in the water to blow bubbles or swallow water. If water is really a concern where you are, you might consider skipping the bath and just doing a sponge bath with a moist wash cloth, water, and baby shampoo.