Traveling to Brazil with Babies
Firstly, I would like to start off with the fact that we absolutely love São Paulo. I have always been a huge fan of Brazil, especially the people, the music and the language. It is also a big reason why I learned how to speak Portuguese. So that I could connect with the people on a deeper level and demonstrate my interest in their culture. But let me just say at the beginning traveling to Brazil with Babies is not easy.
Brazil was also one of the biggest reasons why I thought I would start writing blogs with the intentions of trying to help & inspire people to travel with their kids. We faced a lot of challenges and found it to be quite difficult, despite the fact that I speak Portuguese.
Although Brazil is the probably one of the most accepting countries we have visited. When it comes to traveling to Brazil with Babies, there are a lot of improvements to be made to make it more baby friendly. I am lucky to have friends in Brazil so every time I have travelled there and have been staying with Brazilians and they have helped me find accommodation in various cities.
I would recommend doing the same. Reaching out to people/friends for advice and recommendations, as it is still a third world country and there are areas you should avoid. Please see here if interested in reading my Top 10 things to know about Brazil Blog 🙂
Recommended Travel Agency for Internal Flights
If you need any assistance with flights and accommodation in any city in Brazil please reach out to Valtur Turismo. It is my friends company and she and her sister speak various languages and are able to respond in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
You will also need a Brazilian national ID to book the internal flights via GOL. At the time of when I travelled to Brazil this was the cheapest site for booking internal flights. So you might want to use the travel agency to help book those flights if interested.
Visiting Ilha Bela
The island is approximately 330km south of Rio de Janeiro and 222km north of São Paulo. Therefore, you can look into options of flying into either city to get there. See Map for details http://litoralvirtual.com.br/litoral/acesso.htm
Ilha Bela, São Paulo
We traveled to Ilha Bela, on the island of Sebastião, which is in São Paulo State. I wouldn´t have necessarily have chosen Ilha Bela on my own, but it is very well known in Brazil for being a top place for destination Weddings. And that is exactly why we flew out there, to attend our Brazilian friends´ Wedding who lives in London. The scenery and nature there is just breath-taking, with35 km of beaches and a coastal Atlantic rain forest to explore, in addition to hundreds of cool waterfalls cascading into the ocean.
We decided to rent a car when we traveled there. Havana was 5 months at that time and it was quite an interesting journey with loads of nappy change stops hehe. Ilha Bela is generally 3 hours drive from Sao Paulo city, but took us about 4-5 hours with the traffic and nappy change stops. We had just started her on solids at that time and she was just getting used to the foods, which also affected her digestive system.
General Info About Visiting Brazil
In Brazil it is mandatory for children to be in a car seat so I recommend asking for one in advance when booking a rental car. Alternatively you can bring your own. It is not mandatory to have a car seat when taking a taxi in Brazil.
We did not really use taxis when we were in Ilha Bela so I cannot comment on that. If you were to stay in Rio or São Paulo I would say you are fine with taking the public transport or taxis, but for Ilha Bela I would recommend getting a car.
Formula & Baby Food
Just before leaving for Brazil we started introducing solids, primarily because she started gives us all the signals. As we were traveling and always on the go, it wasn´t possible for us to cook/boil foods and therefore during our time there we primarily stuck to fruit. For example, banana, mangos, etc. simple foods that you can easily mush and wouldn´t get in contact with tap water. We also tried to bring as many food pouches & weaning snacks in our carry-ons and suitcases as possible. I also highly recommend the Nuby Food Masher. That came in really handy during our travels throughout North and South America.
I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding and was giving her 1-2 bottles of expressed milk or formula a day, in addition to some solid foods. We decided at an early age that my husband would give her a bottle or two of expressed milk or formula right at the beginning to help with the bonding. The fact that we brough extra formula and food did come in handy as my breastmilk production was affected. This can happen while traveling, as you are not eating the same foods as when at home.
We also tried to stick to giving her fruits as the Brazilians eat a lot of meat and fried foods and those weren´t really things we wanted to give her to eat. When it comes to the nutrition of their children Latin Americans also tend to cook fresh meals, hence why it is also difficult to find baby foods or formula. As we were tourists in Sao Paulo we didn´t know the city well and therefore didn´t know where the supermarkets were.
When a baby is hungry you can´t really wait 30m-1h for a fresh meal to be prepared unless you don´t mind the screaming, so I am happy we had brought a lot of baby food pouches and formula along just in case. Therefore, if you are planning on traveling to Brazil with your Baby or Toddlers, I would probably suggest going if you are purely breastfeeding/formula feeding or if your kids are eating the same food as you and can fully chew.
I am not sure if other Mom´s can relate, but although I was breastfeeding, during the weaning stages the breastmilk sometimes was not enough. Therefore I have learned, that ever since Brazil I try to have more than enough food & snacks with me.
Baby Jet Lag
I wouldn’t say that we had problems dealing with jet lag as she was not entirely sleeping through the night yet. However, if interested in reading about a few tips that have helped us during our other travels since this trip please click here.
Most Brazilians don´t drink tap water so I wouldn´t recommend you do that either. I highly recommend buying bottled water and using that to mix with the baby formula as well if you are formula feeding. I would also recommend asking the hotel for a kettle so you can sterilise and clean the baby bottles and baby items.
Baby Products & Clothes
All baby products are quite expensive in Brazil. This goes from baby foods, diapers, wipes, toys, clothes, sunscreen, etc. so I would recommend if you travel to Brazil with your Baby to try to bring enough supplies for the entire stay. Try contacting the hotel or Air BnB prior to booking to see if they are able to supply a crib.
Average annual temperature is the 22 ºC, which makes Ilhabela a year-round favourite for travellers and especially destination Weddings. Ilha Bela is very popular during the summers and long weekends as people from the mainland tend to travel there for a break. Off seasons or during the week are normally less crowded.
If you stay in an Air BnB/apartment do note that it is quite normal in Brazil for them not to have sheets for the bed or towels. Yes, very strange, but it is true and you have to bring some along. We experienced this with our apartment in Ilha Bela. Thank goodness my friend was driving to meet us from another city in Sao Paulo and brought extra sheets and towels along for us. Not sure why this is, but apparently it is common practice in Brazil. Therefore I do recommend asking if they supply sheets or whether you have to bring them along. On that note, I would also recommend asking if they have hairdryers.
Mosquitos & Vaccinations
I would check with your doctor before traveling to Brazil to make sure your child´s vaccinations are up to date. In addition, I would recommend bringing a mosquito net and repellent. These would be my recommendations for any tropical country you are traveling to. Zika is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Zika virus. The geographical distribution of Zika virus (ZIKV) has expanded globally in recent years. Please see here for country specific details and risks.
If you are traveling from North America please be aware that you might not find many change tables. The same actually goes for if you are traveling around Europe as well. Therefore be prepared to change your child in public. Depending on where we were, we either changed her on the travel stroller in a corner somewhere, wheeled the stroller into a public washroom to change her or did it in the car. The name for change table in Portuguese is fraldários.
Restaurants & Bedtime
You will notice that Brazilians are very friendly and tolerant of children. Most restaurants will have a high chair so do not be afraid to ask. Restaurants should also have kid meals, which normally consist of pasta or rice, meat and vegetables. Similar to other Latin American countries kids are normally up late. This is due to the fact that in Latin American countries they don´t normally eat dinner until 8-9pm or even later.
Every Baby is different
We normally put our daughter Havana to bed around 7:30pm and normally stick to that routine now that she is more of a Diva when she is tired. Generally when traveling once she hit 12 months and had a set routine we don’t try to steer off the routine too much. If abroad we tend to stay out max 2 hours past her bed time, but that’s what worked for us. Of course every child is different so best do what works best for you and your baby. When we were in Brazil, our daughter was only 5 months old and was having regular naps and therefore wasn’t affected by jet lag that much and the fact that we stayed out late.
We love Brazil
I know this blog was quite long compared to all my others, but there is just so much I felt that I needed to add to help any parent prepare for the holiday to Brazil with Babies. Although it was more tiring than many other trips we really and truly do love Brazil. If you have any questions please drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Baby Happy Travels
Marisa & Havana
CLICK HERE to read our 10 Things To Know About Brazil – Culture Tips Blog