Getting Ready to Travel to Vietnam

We didn't receive any information on the weight or length of our new baby, so we were prepared for lots of possibilities. When you are adopting a child who has been in an orphanage, you can probably assume that you can buy according to his or her age. I packed clothing sized for a three-month old but also brought both pajamas and a couple of outfits sized for children six-to-nine-months of age. If she turned out to be a large baby, I planned to buy more clothes in Vietnam. Our baby wore size three-months clothing for the first two months after we picked her up. Now, at 10 months of age, she is wearing clothing sized for children six-to-nine months and 12-months old. Don't bother bringing shoes unless you're adopting an older child. (Remember that babies spit up frequently, so plan on going through three or four outfits each day.)

Here are my suggestions on what to pack for baby:

7 one-piece t-shirts with snap crotches -- 4 long-sleeve, 3 short-sleeve
4 pairs of cotton pants
6 one-piece pajamas
2 jumpers that can be worn with or without a t-shirt underneath
2 sweaters
2 sweatshirts
6 pairs of socks
3-4 undershirts
Many bibs ( some plastic, some cloth)

Burp cloths (several)
Hand towels for same purpose (There can be a lot of spitting up when they are very young.)
Formula (We used formula bought in Vietnam, but you can also bring powdered formula. Don't bring cans of liquid formula. They're heavy, and there are not always places to store premade bottles.
3 hats (In Vietnam, children traditionally wear hats outdooors.)
2-3 receiving blankets
1 front baby carrier such as a Snugli or Baby Bjorn
2 boxes of disposable changing pads (You never know where you may have to change diapers or how clean it will be.)
Disposable diapers (Figure on 8 to 12 changes a day.)
Baby wipes, unscented, with aloe and without alcohol (at least two per potential change, with extras in case of diarrhea or for cleaning up other messy stuff; don't bring the boxes that you buy the wipes in, put them in zipper-lock bags)
Diaper rash cream
Nystatin cream for diaper rash (prescription)
Hydrocortisone/eczema cream for skin
Thermos (for boiled water for bottles; while outside the U.S., I would always suggest boiled or bottled water for yourself and the baby to avoid intestinal distress)
A sturdy bag large enough to hold a change of clothes for baby, bottles, several diapers, diaper rash cream and wipes (essential for any long plane trip)
2 baby spoons and 1 bowl
2 sippy cups (for older babies)
3 four-ounce bottles that use disposable liners
3 eight-ounce bottles that utilize disposable liners
Disposable bottle liners, both four- and eight-ounce (Using disposable liners lets you avoid having to wash bottles. Remember to clean nipples in boiling water.)

3 four-ounce regular bottles and nipples (in case the baby rejects the disposable bottles)
Safety nail clipper for babies
Digital thermometer (rectal or ear)
Sunscreen for babies
Baby-safe insect repellant
Cassette player and children's music tapes to help both you and the baby sleep (James Taylor, YoYo Ma, Mozart, Chopin, Ella Fitzgerald)
Antibiotic ointment
Hydrocortisone 1% solution
Baby shampoo
Unscented soap
Saline nose drops (essential)
Bulb aspirator
Acetaminophen drops for infants
Infant liquid cold medicine
Rice cereal
Prune juice (a life saver, since many Third World orphanage babies are not used to wearing diapers and tend to become constipated for the first day or two)
White grape juice in boxes
Electrolyte packets for diarrhea and vomiting
Teething gel
Brush and comb
1-2 small, washable toys (coming from an orphanage, your baby may not know what to do with toys, so don't bring many)

Remember: Pack only what you need, don't forget any essentials, and have a great trip to pick up your child!

--By Pat Wechsler

Pat Wechsler is an editor at Business Week magazine. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, New York magazine and other national publications.

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