Traveling to Brazil with a Baby

I haven’t met many people traveling to Brazil with a Baby, but in case you are going to be one of the few, here’s some info you probably would like to know and it might be hard to find.

1) Diapers & wipes: easy to find, there are US (Pampers, Huggies which are sold under “Turma da Mônica by Huggies”) and local brands available. The prices per diaper are much higher than in the US though, and the packages are smaller. Same goes for wipes. The quality is a bit different even for the US brands, I usually bring as much diapers and wipes as I can fit in my bags and then buy the US brands when needed. I bought local wipes once on sale and basically threw the whole package away, they were so thin and dry, simply didn’t work. There are several local brands and I didn’t test them all, so I can’t say all of them are bad like this, but I rather stick with what I’m used to at this point. Swim diapers are outrageously expensive, over USD $1 per diaper, so I always bring a bunch (Brazilians are not used to swim diapers, babies usually don’t wear them unless it’s required by the hotel or water park, which is not widely done either). You can find diapers and wipes in grocery stores and pharmacies. Cool thing to know: lots of pharmacies have delivery services in big cities like Rio and São Paulo.

2) Baby food and formula: pretty much all you can find is made by Nestle, and again, very expensive. Brazilians don’t usually buy baby food unless it’s an emergency, people usually cook their own for various reasons (it’s common for middle class households to have maids and nannies who are responsible for cooking it). Variety is slim and prices are upwards of R$ 7 a jar. The offerings are usually very Brazilian: beef stroganoff with rice for example (which my daughter really liked at the time). Formula brands from the US are very difficult to find, so I would highly recommend you bring your own cans of powder formula in your checked luggage (I don’t think I’ve seen US brands for sale in Brazil at all, although I’ve heard they’re available). You can find baby food and formula in grocery stores and pharmacies as well.

3) Sunscreen: another very expensive item, I always bring my own sunscreen with me. Forget the more “natural” or “less chemicals” sunscreens, they aren’t available. Bring big bottles with you. If you must buy them, grocery stores and pharmacies sell them, and try to find the ones that say “PABA Free” or “Não contém PABA”, which is a common allergen in sunscreens (I’m allergic).

4) Priority access: in airports, banks, public buildings and most places across the country, families with babies (and pregnant women) get to go to the front of the line or there are special lines that you can use. Particularly useful after you are in a crowded airport after having traveled for 8+ hours and needs to bypass an enourmous immigration and customs line. There is also priority seating in public transportation.

5) Restaurants: most places have high chairs and some have kids options (1-3 dishes that are “kid-friendly”, usually rice, beans, either beef or chicken and fries, or some sort of pasta). The high chairs usually have no seat belt or any type of closure at the front, it’s basically a very tall tiny chair with arms, a small baby could slide down through the front opening. Brazilians are usually very tolerant of kids in restaurants, and you see kids around even in “late” hours (9-10 PM).

6) Dinner and bed time: Brazilians usually eat and sleep much later than Americans, your average Brazilian family doesn’t really eat dinner before 7 PM ever, the kids are usually still awake at 9 PM. There are obviously exceptions to this, but in general, the whole country operates about 2 hours later than the average US schedules. Restaurants are usually fairly empty at 6 PM, which is a good thing if you are trying to eat early with your kids (yesterday we had an early dinner and at 6 PM in a fairly well-known place in a busy neighborhood – we were the only people eating, another group arrived when we were leaving).

7) Water: don’t drink the tap water. Buy bottled water or use filtered water, most households have good water filters. Brazilians themselves don’t drink the tap water, so you shouldn’t either.

8) Showers/Baths: it’s very hard to find bathtubs in Brazil. Unless it’s a higher-end hotel or a house, people only have showers, not tubs. Unless you are planning to give your baby showers, bring an inflatable bathtub. Most showers are electric showers, and the water doesn’t get as hot as the water heated up by a boiler like in the US – and the heat is instant, you don’t have to wait until the water warms up. How hot it gets depends a lot on how good the electric shower itself is.

9) Strollers: are fairly common, although sometimes the sidewalks leave much to be desired and you wished you had a jogging stroller. 😉 We always bring our umbrella stroller.

10) Car seats: now the Brazilian law requires that babies use car seats, even if it’s not very much enforced and there are still lots of Brazilians not using them. You can ride a taxi with your baby without a car seat, like in the US. If you are planning to rent a car, definitely bring your own car seat. Don’t even think about buying one in Brazil: they are way more expensive and usually not nearly as good (most don’t even have a 5 point harness, to begin with).

11) Clothes: bring all the clothes your kid needs, simply because clothes in Brazil are ridiculously expensive, even for little ones. You can find good quality and pretty stuff, but it will cost you. An average baby girl dress in a not-brand-name store in a mall in Rio costs around R$ 100, to give you an idea.

12) Cribs: ask the hotel as soon as possible if they provide cribs. Not all do!

13) Changing tables: the common changing tables attached to a bathroom wall that we see a lot in the US is very hard to find in Brazil. Malls have fraldários, which are great family areas with changing tables, high chairs and mini kitchen where you can warm up baby food or prepare a bottle, and a quiet nursing area. Most of them also have a baby tub with running water in case you need to bathe your baby after a blowout. The airports also have fraldários, in Rio’s international airport it’s outside of the boarding area so make sure to change your baby before you enter the secure area (dumb, I had to change my daughter once when we were inside and there wasn’t any place to do so, the bathrooms didn’t have any changing facilities or even counter space that I could use for that purpose). Restaurants usually don’t have any changing tables available. We usually change diapers in the car.

Any other questions? If I haven’t covered something you want to know, just ask me in the comments! Photos to come soon, I’m having a hard time editing photos in this super slow laptop.

Brazil Destinations

{ 46 comments… add one }
  • Angela Moreira September 10, 2013, 8:56 pm

    Oi,

    I will be traveling with my 8 month old daughter to Fortaleza, Barzil in the near future. My inlaws are Brazilian and I lived there for a year and a half. My only concern about taking Luana as a baby is dengue fever. Do you think I should worry about this?

    Thanks,
    Angela

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura September 12, 2013, 9:49 pm

      Hey Angela, when I took Eric the first time it was right in the middle of a dengue outbreak in Rio. We made sure he always had a mosquito net when he was asleep, even if he was napping during the day. I would also use bug repellent if I were you, Eric was too little for that. Chances are they won’t have dengue, but we can try to minimize the risks. This was the advice of a Brazilian Pediatrician, to his Brazilian patients (my cousins) anyway. So I just did what they were doing and everything was fine. If they do get a fever though, it’s always good to get them checked for dengue as soon as possible. Have a good trip!

      Reply
  • Amy November 25, 2013, 10:48 pm

    Hello! Thank you for this. I am pregnant but planning to bring my baby to Brazil to visit family and friends after he/she is born. I would like to know what are the norms for breastfeeding. Is it “normal” to breastfeed in public with a covering?

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura December 9, 2013, 2:33 pm

      Yes, it is normal, you won’t have any problems!

      Reply
  • Heloiza January 1, 2014, 10:35 pm

    Hi just want to say congratulations, I am a Brazilian who live in Ireland, my husband is Irish and I am travelling with my baby soon to Brasil, you are 100% right, the prices are absurd there. I will bring as much nappies, baby food and wipes as I can. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  • Ania January 16, 2014, 12:17 pm

    Hi Angela,
    I would love to go to Brazil with my husband and out two sons (4 years and 2 months) but I am worried about children catching different diseases. Do children need to have vaccinations first? Do Braziliands give them usually for their babies? Is it very risky to go there without vaccinations? Please help 🙂 Ania

    Reply
    • Logan April 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

      Ania,
      Yes, parents vaccinate their children in Brazil. We moved here from the US when my LO was 5 months old. We’ve had every shot recommended just like we were in the US.

      Reply
  • Leyla May 27, 2014, 10:51 pm

    Hi Luciana, and thanks very much for the tips. We are planning on going to Rio with my in-laws, who are from there. What you shared is very helpful and answered a bunch of mu questions. One more thing – my LO is 19 mo, and I wonder if i should bring his toys like building blocks, cars, sand/beach toys, etc. As much as I think I should bring a bunch along, I also don’t want to shlep things. Thanks very much!

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura May 28, 2014, 12:34 am

      Leyla, toys are very expensive in Brazil, so if your in-laws don’t have toys available for him, it would be a good idea to take some toys with you. Every time I take my kids there to visit I bring toys along and leave them at my parents’ house for future visits…my parents also come here to visit and take toys back to Brazil with them for my kids to play when they go visit. I’ve taken IKEA train sets, Lego Duplos, coloring supplies…they do have this stuff available in Brazil, it just costs anywhere from 3 to 5 times more than here in the US.

      Reply
  • Michelle May 28, 2014, 5:53 pm

    Hi Luciana, I will be travelling with my Husband and 8mth old baby to Sao Paulo and Rio in July for the Soccer World cup.. We are South African and are required to get yellow fever vaccinations before travelling to South America. My baby is too young to get the vaccination. Is the risk very high? I am so worried that I making a bad decision to travel with my little guy!! What do the locals do with their little ones to prevent infection?? Thanks Michelle

    Reply
  • saul June 9, 2014, 12:44 am

    Luciana me and my wife are traveling to the world cup and are taking our 8 month baby. can you give us more recommendations so that our baby can be safe of a disease or fever

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura June 9, 2014, 12:51 am

      Saul, what city are you traveling to? If your baby’s vaccinations are up to date you should be fine, just don’t drink the tap water (nobody in the family should). Follow your basic flu precautions.

      Reply
  • Erna June 9, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Hi Luciana.

    We will be travelling to Brazil in the middle of July with our two children, 4 and 2 year old. We plan to go to Rio, Iguazu falls, the Pantanal, The Lençóis Maranhenses and Salvador. I am thinking whether or not to bring a twin stroller or if we could hardly use it anywhere except Rio?

    I am also a bit worried about safety, especially in the cities, do you have any advice for me?

    Thank you so much in advance, it has really helped me to look at your advice to others. 🙂

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura June 23, 2014, 1:35 pm

      Hi Erna, sorry I didn’t reply sooner! Wow, what an amazing trip! I would not bring a double stroller…probably a single stroller and maybe a carrier for your 2 year old if s/he is OK with it (sometimes I carried my 2 year old backpack style while pushing my older daughter in the stroller).

      About safety: avoid going out late at night, have hotels call the taxis for you, don’t take the vans, keep any bags and purses with you at all times (even in restaurants people have purses stolen if they are just hanging from a chair). Avoid jewelry, watches, anything expensive looking…Rio and Salvador are the most dangerous from the places you are visiting, but don’t think you can leave anything unattended anywhere.

      Reply
  • Kellen June 23, 2014, 1:12 pm

    Oi Luciana

    i’m going to be spending a month and half in Recife, my baby will be 6 months old. I’m currently pumping and supplementing with formula when needed so i’m assuming i’ll have to bring formula with me as the options in Brazil dont seem too attractive. Have you tried bringing a sealed pack of formula? i hope not to have any problems in customs. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura June 23, 2014, 1:30 pm

      You will be fine bringing the formula in the checked bag, I took a can of formula with me just in case when I went to Rio with my son (when he was less than 2 months old).

      Reply
  • Kate July 7, 2014, 4:32 am

    Hi Luciana,
    I will be in São Paulo in September to visit my husband’s family and slightly worried about the safety for our 4 month old son. We were told not to bring an expensive stroller as it might be a target for thieves, any truth behind this? We have a Bugaboo. If so, I was thinking of asking my mother-in-law to buy an inexpensive one in Brazil for us to use. Also, are there any regulations for car seats? As in, could I bring in any kind of car seat to utilize in Brazil? For example, I won’t be able to bring our UK Maxi Cosi to use in the US due to different safety standards. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura July 7, 2014, 9:24 am

      Kate, never heard of that. I also have a Bugaboo but never brought it to Brazil simply because I don’t travel with it, I use an umbrella stroller for trips since it’s more convenient. There are no inexpensive strollers in Brazil, any cheap stroller there will be more expensive than what you would expect. You can bring any car seat you want, they have a law that you must use them but they don’t mention what type, people buy them abroad all the time.

      Reply
  • Tegan Barry July 15, 2014, 6:44 am

    Hello,
    Great blog, so glad I came across this. My partner and I are planning a Brazil and Peru trip May/June next year, our daughter will be 15/16 months when we go. We are going to, Rio, Salvador, the Amazon and Iguasu falls then heading over to Peru. Have you taking kids to Peru and if so, can you buy similar baby products and what is the food like for a toddler? We are travelling from Australia, so it will be a big trip :). Looking forward to speaking to you.
    Tegan

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura August 25, 2014, 2:00 pm

      Hi Tegan, sorry, I was in the middle of a 2 month roadtrip with the kids when you asked this question. I have not taken my kids to Peru yet, so I’m not sure what you’ll find. You can ask my friend Manu who is a Brazilian who lives in Lima with her 2 kids http://cupofthings.com/ Her blog is in Portuguese but she does speak English.

      Reply
  • Millene July 23, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Hello, i would like to know about the visa.. Im brazilian And my Baby was born in USA And i will travel to Brazil to visit my family but Im not sure if my 6 month old Baby needs a visa.

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura August 25, 2014, 2:02 pm

      If you registered your baby with the Brazilian Consulate and got a Brazilian passport, he doesn’t need a visa. If you didn’t register him as a Brazilian citizen and don’t have a Brazilian passport for him, then he will need a visa.

      Reply
    • Logan August 25, 2014, 2:38 pm

      Are you leaving Brazil without the father? If so, you’re gonna need to go to the Consulate and get the proper paperwork to leave with your child- it’s Brazilian law. You may already know that.

      Reply
      • jeanette September 27, 2014, 10:37 pm

        Hello:) I`m from norway and I `m travelling to brazil(natal)with my 7 months old son alone without the father, do I need to go to the consulate to get out of the country? And is there some paper I can bring along that will make it easier for me? is there a consulate in natal? many questions at once but I really want to have my little baby with me home:)
        Best regards Jeanette

        Reply
        • Logan September 28, 2014, 7:08 pm

          Jeannette,
          Contact the Brazilian Consulate in your country before you go. There is have a form that can filled out and attached to the babies passport. Both parents have to sign the form, so you can’t get it while your in Brazil. I believe this is permission is only applicable to kids with Brazilian citizenship. But I’m not positive, I’d call before you go! Things are NOT easier to complete when you’re here.

          Reply
  • Cat July 30, 2014, 5:49 am

    Oi Luciana

    Thanks so much for the great Brazil travelling tips – I am going to Fortaleza this Friday for a month with my 7 month baby. Wondered if I can take a load of Ella’s pouches/or pre-jarred baby food? Will there be a problem with customs?

    thanks
    Cat

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura August 25, 2014, 2:02 pm

      Sorry I couldn’t respond sooner, I was traveling when you wrote! You can take the baby food no problem, I hope you had a great trip.

      Reply
  • Meg September 14, 2014, 3:46 pm

    What a great resource, thank you! I wonder if you know whether it’s possible to bring infant car seats on buses/shuttles between cities (SP and Ubatuba). I’ve found that I can rent one from Hertz rather than carry one from the US, but will I even be able to use it? And/or how do laws differ for public transport (my daughter is four months old). Would it be better and easier to rent a car? How easy and safe is driving on highways? Thanks for being such a help to traveling parents!

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura September 16, 2014, 10:41 am

      When I take my kids to Brazil I always drive there, and bring their car seats along. Driving between SP and Ubatuba should be fine (although it was been many years since I’ve been to Ubatuba). The law there requires car seats for your baby, so you should definitely use it. Honestly I trust my driving more than I trust the bus/shuttle drivers…!

      Reply
  • A.W. September 16, 2014, 7:36 am

    Hi Luciana, so glad I found this. Great info.. Wondering if u can help..In November my boyfriend and I are going to his home in Bahia Salvador with our 4 month old to stay for 7 months !!I’m a little anxious as I have never been to Brazil let alone with a baby and for so long! Any advice?!!!
    Also Im worried about illnesses.. Are measles/ mumps .. Polio .( the usual we commonly vaccinate against) of more concern/ more frequently seen in Salvador? We are still contemplating vaccinating so young due to personal experience with multiple family and friends…
    (I know that can be controversial so I want to mention I respect all parents personal decisions on vaccinations regardless ..so please let this not be a subject for debate and heated discussion amongst other parents !!! I hope I haven’t opened a can of worms Luciana . Thanks for all your valuable info!)

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura September 16, 2014, 10:45 am

      There is no Polio in Brazil anymore, it was considered eradicated in 1994. They do still monitor de virus but currently there is no human contamination, but all kids are vaccinated. Measles/mumps do exist but again, all kids are vaccinated. I wouldn’t travel with my baby (there or anywhere) without proper vaccination. In the US you are relatively “safe” without vaccines, but once you hop on a plane and go abroad, you never know what your baby might be exposed to.

      Reply
  • Livia Van Deurzen September 29, 2014, 12:47 am

    Hi Luciana! My name is Livia and I am Brazilian. I am going to Brazil with my 2 months old baby and my Husband. We live in Canada and our baby is Canadian. Do I need a visa for him? which vaccination is mandatory to get in there with this age? We are going to Minas Gerias. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura September 29, 2014, 1:44 pm

      You need to register your baby with the Brazilian Consulate and get him a Brazilian Passport, not a visa. He doesn’t need any special vaccines to take him to Brazil, if you’re following the vaccination schedule in Canada you’re fine.

      Reply
  • Laura Ferreira October 3, 2014, 8:12 am

    Thanks for this. I’m glad I took your advice when I travelled to visit family in Brazil last month. We were travelling with our 6 month old, and took an internal flight to Porto Alegre too. I was hugely surprised to be asked to present my baby’s birth certificate upon check-in for the return leg of the journey. It’s not normal to travel with birth certificates in the UK and we hadn’t had problems before, but we had to prove parentage to be allowed to fly. Definitely something to add to your list I think as this important information doesn’t appear anywhere else.

    Reply
  • Szyller Nathalie October 28, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Thanks for the great info!
    We re going to brazil in december, besides the passport is it required to bring a birth certificate? Since our daughter was born in france, its Written in french..
    Also concerning the infant seat, is it ok to travel by taxi with none or do u recommend to bring ours from France (even for short distances? Airport-city). Do we have to Pay an extra when travelling with both a stroller and an infant seat?
    Thank u so much for your help!!

    Reply
  • rak March 4, 2015, 7:33 pm

    My husband and i would like to travel to brazil (Rio) in june/july with our 8 month old.. the nurse has advised us to reconsider as baby should have Hepatitis A before travelling to brazil which she cannot have until she is a year old. A bit confused as i have read about lots of families taking babies to brazil.

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura March 4, 2015, 8:10 pm

      The nurse is overreacting in my opinion. I’ve never heard of anyone having Hepatitis A in Rio in my life (nobody in my family or friends, at all). At 8 months she is probably still eating baby food and taking precautions about washing fruits and vegetables, not drinking tap water and so on (which are your basic precautions for when traveling anyway), she should be fine. I’m yet to hear about case of a baby with Hepatitis A in Rio.

      Reply
      • rak March 4, 2015, 8:33 pm

        Thanks for quick reply

        Reply
  • Therese June 23, 2015, 4:13 pm

    Is it worth bringing a stroller for my almost 3 yo? We are going to fotaleza, and jericoacoara. When we traveled with to Salvador when he was 6 months old, I didnt find the stroller particularly useful as the sidewalks were too bumpy etc, but my husband insists on the umbrella stroller for my almost 3 yo and my 4 month old. Do most people use strollers or just baby carriers?

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura October 19, 2015, 8:33 pm

      People do use the strollers, but not for a 3 year old, only for little babies, so your 4 month old would be in one. You are right about sidewalks being bumpy sometimes, the bigger strollers that have tires are more comfortable in those cases.

      Reply
  • Mo Khan October 10, 2015, 12:24 am

    Hey … just came across this site and it pretty much answered ALL my questions that i have been thinking about for the last few days. We are planning a trip to Rio, Iguazu and Paraty in December with our baby daughter who will be around 11 months at that time. I am planning on getting a umbrella stroller looks like it will be handy and will travel with our own car seat as we have separate seat for the baby in the plane. In a nut shell looks like we should pretty much get everything for the baby 🙂 first time traveling outside the country with the baby…
    I do have one specific questions regarding bus travel . Will it be okay to travel by bus from Rio to Paraty or choose a van ??

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura October 19, 2015, 8:32 pm

      Traveling by bus on long routes like this is usually OK, because the buses are pretty nice. I’ve done that many times in the past, before I had a driver’s license/car. Vans might be OK, but you really need to be careful and choose one that has a permit, and not a “pirate” van which doesn’t have the necessary paperwork to operate. If you feel you can’t tell one from the other, the bus is your best bet.

      Reply
  • Adam October 19, 2015, 8:21 pm

    do you know if brazilian immigration requires all babies with a brazilian passport to get the polio vaccination? does immigration check on whether or not the baby has been immunized?? to get a visa, looks like it is necessary but what about immigration?

    Reply
    • Luciana Misura October 19, 2015, 8:29 pm

      Nope, my kids didn’t take the polio vaccine since it’s not part of the US immunization schedule and they never had a problem or were asked to show any proof of any vaccination for that matter.

      Reply
      • Logan October 20, 2015, 6:53 am

        Hi! From my understanding the IPV shot is the polio vaccine. The first dose is at 2 months. That aside, my daughter never had her vaccine record reviewed (she’s dual), I did have the federal police request both countries birth certificates to leave this last time. That was with both parents present too!

        Reply

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