To India, Baby Onboard

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Q. We're taking our 6-month-old to India. Will we have any issues with using her car seat? What other precautions should we take for her?

Neil Sood, Laurel

A In India, infants are not required by law to be strapped into car seats, and many mothers will hold the child on their lap in the passenger seat or back seat. And while most travelers like to adopt as many local traditions as possible, this is one case where American parents don't have to follow the accepted custom. "Many parents do not feel that the baby is safe in the back," says Narendra Kothiyal, a Ministry of Tourism information officer. "Using car seats is not a common practice, but it is slowly picking up."

Since you are bringing your own baby gear, be sure the vehicle you rent has a working seat belt in the back and is roomy enough for the car seat and other child-care necessities. When taking cabs, also check the seat belts before hopping in. In addition, Phyllis Kozarsky, an expert consultant with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says motor vehicle accidents are a major hazard for travelers. To that end, do not drive at night, especially in poorly lighted areas, and be careful riding in rickshaws or other vulnerable means of transportation.

For medical-related precautions concerning babies, Kozarsky says, "I worry more about sub-Saharan Africa, because there are more immunizations you can't give an infant. India is a little less problematic, but you still have to be cautious." She advises parents to make sure their child's immunizations are up-to-date. However, some travel-specific vaccines are not approved for small children. For example, while adults can be vaccinated for hepatitis A, infants must be injected with immune globulin and should take anti-malarial pills that are specifically formulated for little ones (i.e., ground-up tablets turned into an elixir).

To stave off water- and food-borne diseases, continue to breast-feed your child if you are currently doing so. "With breast-feeding, your young child is less likely to get a gastrointestinal disease," Kozarsky says. Also, use only pasteurized milk and bottled water, even for rinsing off pacifiers.

Do any cruise lines provide bus transportation from Union Station in Washington to New York terminals?

Jay Wolfgang, Silver Spring

On some cruise lines, passengers can hitch a ride from the Washington train station to New York ports when they book a sailing. However, availability of bus service varies among cruise lines, ships and even itineraries, so you will have to call each company and ask about your specific sailing.

Princess Cruises, for example, provides motor coach transfers between Union Station and the cruise terminal in Brooklyn. Cost is $79 round trip for Caribbean cruises on the Crown Princess and $120 round trip for fall cruises to Canada and New England. Lines that don't offer any service at all include Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival.

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