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This is a guest post from Kylah from Intrepid Monkeys
Travelling through South America with our baby boy we encounter the affectionate terms “qué lindo” and “qué hermoso” (‘how cute / beautiful’) almost daily.
Ollie was six months old when we packed everything up in Karratha, Western Australia and set off on our nine month adventure as a family taking time out from the rat race.
On separate occasions, Alec and I have both previously been to South America and loved it. We always planned to return together one day.
Travelling South America With a Baby
Inspired by a New Zealand Herald article online about a couple taking their baby to South America, we set out planning our return (with a baby this time) prior to even starting our little family.
We purchased a lot of baby travel kit including a KindaKot,
Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix and a Quinny Zapp stroller – all lifesavers on our journey so far. All we needed next was the baby, fingers crossed it wouldn’t be too much of a handful.
Ollie was born and fortunately for us was not a difficult baby, relatively speaking. Six months later we had Christmas in Adelaide, New Years in Rotorua, NZ and then an 11 hour overnight flight to Santiago, Chile on the 21st Jan 2013.
Memories of Santiago immediately flooded back. Español dancing across the air, smog, unruly traffic and speeding cars, street dogs and car alarms mixed with that very european feel of alfresco dining and beautiful parks lining the city.
What we love most about South America though is the sense of community. Travelling with a baby has meant we have experienced this even more so on our current trip.
During our first week in Santiago, a woman weighing the veggies in the supermarket told us we need to cut Ollie’s toenails. Feeling a little inadequate as parents, we were later reassured by our expat friend that the woman would have meant it in a caring way rather than judging us.
Then there was a woman on the bus who taught Ollie a lovely song (in Spanish) about his hands, used to distract little children from touching anything on public transport.
Everywhere we go we have been the attraction as much as the people of Chile and Argentina have been to us, carrying our blonde-haired baby.
Preparation and Routine Have Been Our Saviour
Sticking to a routine as much as possible for Ollie and being flexible with our travel plans have definitely made for a better travel experience. We’ve made the most of his sleep times to cover longer distances in the car and tried to plan bus trips or flights around sleep or meal times to keep Ollie occupied.
At times we felt like zombies during our first couple of months in South America, and not because we were out partying all night long like the rest of the Latinos!
Before leaving home Ollie was able to self settle though and we started feeding him solids around 4 ½ months, both of which helped immensely when it came to being on the road.
At times there have been challenges.
Ollie got a fever (> 39.5oC) about three weeks after we arrived in Chile. Fortunately, we were staying in the lovely Hostel Cepa Noble and Cristina, the owner and manager, looked after us like she was our own mother.
Without her, our first encounter with a Chilean doctor would have been far more stressful than it was being asked in broken Spanglish to strip our hysterical baby naked and hold him down on the bed for an examination.
Ollie was up to date with his immunisations prior to leaving Australia. That and an appointment with the travel doctor before leaving meant we felt confident taking him to Chile, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador (avoiding the jungle).
The medical care in private clinics (we have been told to avoid public hospitals) in both Chile and Argentina have been great. Very clean and professional.
One of the first things we do at each destination, after finding a decent sized supermarket, is to work out where the nearest and best medical facilities are.
Fortunately, we have only had to visit the doctor in an emergency that one time. The farmacias in Chile and Argentina have been excellent too and can always be relied on to find formula if we can’t find a big enough supermarket.
We Often Take Time Out and Rely on Support Networks
Babies pick up on your energy.
Staying in touch with my ‘mothers group’ back home and making connections with expats on our journey have been super important to put our minds at ease whenever Ollie has gone through a new or difficult ‘phase’.
Alec and I have even managed to get out on a few date nights thanks to people we have got to know or solid recommendations for babysitters from expats. This time has been gold. It doesn’t take long to blow out the cobwebs and recharge ready for more amazing adventures as a family unit again.
We take turns giving the other person time-out to themselves.
Very important when there is one introvert and two extroverts in our trio. Alec and I have been able to get out and do a couple of more adventurous non-baby-friendly activities like Climbing Volcan Villarrica which was a personal highlight for me!
Staying in apartments (found on airbnb.com or tripadvisor) most of the time means we have the flexibility of cooking at home and more space for Ollie to roam.
We have been fortunate to be able to stay longer in one location if we like it or want to take some more time out before moving on. Apartments also usually work out cheaper than staying in hotels. (check out more tips on how to save on accommodation)
We Totally Recommend Travelling With a Baby
So far we have been travelling for four months in Chile and Argentina which has been relatively similar to travelling with a baby in Australia or NZ.
Apart from different formulas, Huggies products are everywhere and much of the food is the same, although you do need to be vigilant to find products without sugar added.
Next up we head to Peru and Ecuador, stepping things up a notch. There we will need to be more wary of things like making sure Ollie doesn’t drink the bathwater.
It is hard at times, but so is raising a baby at home. I’m so grateful to be able to share the load and also the amazing milestones that Ollie has gone through in his first year of life with Alec as we travel through South America banking so many amazing experiences as memories.
Although Ollie may not remember (consciously) a lot of this trip, we are sure it will shape his personality and have a positive effect on his development.
Watching him play with the Mapuche kids we met in Iclama and being fascinated by the trompe, a traditional musical instrument, will always be a fond memory of us travelling in South America with our baby.
More posts about South America:
- South America on a Stick
- 5 Must Visit Destinations in South America
- 20 best places to visit in South America
More Resources for South America:
Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring South America (Insight Guides)