Last June me (hi, it's Eve here!) and my husband Stephen flew out to Bali from our home in Amsterdam for the first time since Manua was born! We decided to stay his first months after he was born in Amsterdam, before heading back to the island. It was Winter, cold, cozy - perfect to snuggle up all day, being close to family and get eased into the new parenthood life.
With 5 months it was time for Manua's first big trip. Bali home and auntie Pris, here we come! (Meanwhile, Stephen and I were also CRAVING the sun as Winter in Holland is just so dark haha, we definitely weren't used to it anymore!)
We documented the trip on Insta Stories (will make a Manua in Bali photo diary on the blog soon!) And after receiving so many questions and sweet notes from fellow moms (to be) about traveling to Bali with a baby, I wanted to take some time to net down our experience and tips here on the blog!
I was lucky to be able to call my friends in Bali who have kids and storm them with all my questions haha (Mary, thank you!). But if you're depending on Google it's such a maze of info, so hopefully I can be of any help for you.
If you have any questions or want to share your tips and experience please comment them below, would love to hear.
Here we go!
1. What to pack for Bali with a baby?
I made a Bali baby packing list in this separate blog post. From diapers to day to day needs!
But already good to know: you can rent everything for a baby in Bali. From drivers to car seats, baby beds to baby baths, baby monitors or even a nanny. Pool fences can be delivered and installed at your Bali villa. And you can also hire a professional photographer to capture your first family holiday memories, how fun! Check our Bali Baby hire or Bali Baby.
2. How to keep your baby from getting sick?
Ok, let's continue with the most burning question you all had. And honestly, it was my biggest concern as well. It's a big topic even for our friends who live in Bali and have kids. Especially in the first months, your baby is so precious and his or her immune system is still developing.
Although exposure to germs is sometimes good for kids, newborns are an exception I think! Especially as Manua with 5 months wasn't fully vaccinated yet, I felt he was vulnerable to all kinds of infections and illnesses. So I got the best tips from my friend Mary (Dutch mom of the most beautiful boy Makena, living and working in Bali for fifteen years now!) which you can read below:
- Shower or bathe your baby in filtered water. As you know the tap water in Bali is not good to drink and can carry bacteria or parasites. If there isn't filter water available you can cook tap water and cool it down before using it. Manua is teething so he is sucking on his hands a lot and we didn't want to take the risk of him getting too much Bali water in.
In a few big hotels like Alila in Seminyak, we did take Manua with us under the shower, as I felt the water there was clean enough. But did pay attention if he did not 'drink' the water.
- If you breastfeed: rinse your boobs off after showering or swimming in the pool with filtered water. And don't worry too much, I forgot sometimes and Manua didn't get sick.
- Take care of your own hygiene. Bali belly is always on the lookout. Usually transmitted via hands, this can make you sick for days, and you don't want your baby to catch this. So, ALWAYS and ALL THE TIME: wash your hands with a good soap. Especially after touching money, menu's in restaurants and shaking hands. And bring Detol wipes with you when on the road. And when you drove the motorbike and come home to your baby, rinse off your face of all the traffics exhaust gasses.
- And with that said: although everyone will want to squeeze your deliciously looking baby - if you feel like it, you can always kindly ask to wash their hands or hand them a wipe before picking up your little one. Might be a little too paranoid - but we had an incident close to us where our newborn baby niece got life-threatening sick by being kissed on the mouth (note: she got better!). So we also ask friends and family kindly not to kiss Manua on the mouth if they do.
- If your baby is already eating solid foods, in most restaurants you can request food for your baby. Fresh fruits, vegetables and bread are available at most places. Just ask to make it and don't add any other ingredients like sugar or salt. If you want to prepare at your villa check if there's a blender or rent one at one of the Bali baby hire companies. If your baby is on formula bring plenty from home - you can buy it in Bali but it's from different brands and I must say not as good as the ones we have in Holland (like Nutricia). Manua was with 5 months only drinking my milk so that was super easy I must say!
- A lot asked questions about hospitals in Bali. Yes, they are good, no they aren't probably as good as where you live. If you are in need of medical care we can recommend BIMC, SILOAM, The Dose (you can call them if you want to be tested on Dengue).
3. What's the earliest age for a baby to travel to Bali?
I guess this is up to you what feels best. Most of our friends in Bali return to Bali after 2 months with the baby. Mostly to make sure the baby's immune system is more developed before flying. And most would recommend anywhere between 3 to 6 months.
Personally, I felt 5 months was great timing for his first long haul flight. He was comfortable in the baby carrier and could sleep in the baby bassinet on the 17-hour flight. Honestly, the risk of him catching something while traveling hold me off for a while before heading back to the island. And I felt with 5 months that super newborn preciousness turned into a more strong and firm baby to hold (without his neck dangling around if you know what I mean:). Also he wasn't eating solids yet, only drinking (my) milk so that's a super easy age to travel with I must say. Besides, I was still not fit after my C-section and didn't feel comfortable to travel and wanted to focus on getting fit first.
So that's why I guess this one is totally up to you! Oh and also, check your airline as different airlines have different policies.
4. To swim or not to swim in the pool with a baby?
I really can't answer this one in general, but we did swim in the ocean with him and didn't swim with him in the pool. If a pool is being cleaned often we're sure it's ok in terms of no germs. But as we're not a fan of all those chemicals on our baby's body we decided to hold off the pool swimming until he was 6 months (then we wanted to start baby swimming training!:)
5. How to deal with mosquitos and dengue?
Ok, another big concern (welcome to parenthood!). Bali is a high-risk country for Dengue. That's why lots of people pregnant or with babies avoid traveling to the island. But also, many don't avoid as this is a risk in more than 100 countries - and you want to travel and enjoy a nice tropical holiday. Few tips below:
- Discuss the current status of Dengue in Bali and risks with your local doctor.
- The dengue mosquito is most active during the morning and sunset time. This is the time when we were extra careful.
- Bring breathable clothes that cover arms and legs. Doesn't mean you have to cover him up all the time but if you notice there are mosquitos around, put on his pants or use a thin cloth or sarong to cover him up. Also good against too much sun exposure.
- With 5 months we didn't use mosquito spray on Manua, also not the organic ones. But that depends on your personal opinion. I just don't want that kind of chemicals on his tiny body :) I rather dressed him in long pants and a body with long sleeves. But most websites advice to use spray with DEET.
- Don't use oils or creams that smell sweet on your baby. Mosquitos love that.
- Book accommodation where you have a closed bedroom with aircon - or where the bed has a mosquito net. Otherwise, you can bring your own travel mosquito net.
- Bring a mosquito net for the other baby stuff you're bringing: we had one for the car seat, stroller and baby bed.
- If you're in an open-air restaurant you can choose to sit at the table where you can feel a breeze or the fan is on to blow away those cheeky mosquitos.
6. Tips for the flight and how to deal with jetlag?
We booked a 17-hour night flight with KLM from Amsterdam to Bali. Manua usually wakes up every 3 hours in the night for his milk - but sleeps well in between. And so he did on the plane! I guess when you have a day time flight you'll be way busier during the flight to entertain your little one haha.
We booked our flight tickets and had to immediately call KLM to reserve a baby bassinet. After departure, they bring this little cot and hang it up in front of you. Perfect! Make sure to bring warm clothes, it can be super cold on the plane! We had warm sweat pants and a hoodie vest for him.
For on the airport (and in Bali) we brought the Bugaboo Bee and this Ergobaby baby carrier. I guess you can also choose to just bring one of those. Manua was too little for a stroller (he can't sit up by himself yet) so we decided to bring the Bugaboo Bee. Easy to fold in and out, so we could bring this one all the way up to the gate. Bugaboo now as a new stroller especially for travel -The Bugaboo Ant- but it wasn't out yet but we'll definitely bring that one next time! We also brought our car seat that fits on the Bugaboo chassis (base), but we checked that one in. Especially nice because we could throw our bags underneath the Bugaboo and had our hands free while walking around the airport. When he couldn't sleep I took him with me in the baby carrier as he falls asleep way easier that way. Walked with him into the plane with the baby carrier and waited to take him on my lap just minutes before we needed to buckle up for departure.
During take-off and landing, I made a bottle with milk that I pumped. You can also breastfeed or make your bottle with formula - as long as he sucks/drinks while the airplane is changing hights so he of she doesn't get pain in the ears. As Manua was so big already with 5 months it wasn't really comfortable to breastfeed him in the plane chair without him kicking my neighbor or without him being distracted by other things - so I made our life's easier by giving him the bottle while sitting in my lap haha. If you have milk that needs to be warmed up make sure to ask the crew for an au-bain-marie. They're busy preparing for taking off so make sure to ask it on time. If he doesn't want to drink somehow - you can also try a pacifier!
Bring the necessary but don't bring too much stuff for in the plane - save yourself the hassle to carry too much!
Regarding the jetlag, I don't have tips jet. As he didn't suffer from it at all! I heard most babies don't have it as when it gets dark he will naturally feel like it's time to sleep. If you have tips please share them below!
7. Did you take him on the motorbike or how did you get around?
Nope, we didn't! I know many do and I saw some foreigners driving around with a baby in the baby carrier - but for us, it was a clear no go. Our reasons mainly: traffic pollution in our babies face, no thanks. And also after living in Bali for 10 years, we have heard about too many accidents and would never want to risk that for our baby. The argument, "but locals do it that way as well": of course, but they don't have the choice to use the car. So for them, it's the only way and the normal way. Up to you to go local too! :) If he's older and can wear a helmet we will take him on the motorbike for short trips. We did hire a motorbike when I had to go somewhere for a work meeting or Stephen went for a surf or training.
How we got around? We rented a small car in Canggu for our short trips to restaurants in the neighborhood. I also drove with him to the beach for a morning walk (in a baby carrier) and to watch Pris and Stephen surf. For further trips or to Seminyak (which meant: traffic jams) we took our local driver so we could relax (me: nap) in the midst of all Bali chaos.
We also used the Ergobaby baby carrier for walks in our neighborhood in Canggu. For a coffee or lunch break or when he somehow couldn't catch his sleep. Our baby carrier is always the solution haha. We didn't use the stroller that much as the roads close to our villa didn't have any sidewalks. If you're staying around Seminyak or Canggu Batu Bolong you can easily use the stroller or pram to walk around. Or when you're staying in a hotel it might come in handy as well.
8. Tips on where to stay with baby or kids?
Bali is so super baby and kids friendly (especially the Balinese people, they LOVE kids!), it's totally up to you on where to stay. Do you love the comfort of a hotel or want to have your own villa? You can easily move around Bali with your baby. All hotels usually provide a baby cot and at other accommodations, you can request one as well - if they don't have it you can rent it at the Bali by hire services as mentioned in question 1.
You can find all our favorite places to stay in Bali in our Bali guide!
For all of you asking if we have a house in Bali: we usually stay at Pris and Arnaud's place in Seminyak as we are just in Bali for a few months a year. But now with Manua, we are looking for a longterm rental so it's easier to keep all his stuff in one place :) (and maybe when we're in Amsterdam we can rent it out to parents like you, right!?)
For now here are a few places we LOVE per area (we'll make a separate list post for this one soon!).
- Seminyak: we stayed a few nights at the Alila Hotel in Seminyak (it was my first fathers day gift for Stephen!). Not cheap but the perfect place for new parents to relax, think about nothing else than where and what to eat and to hang by the pool or the ocean.
- Canggu: with Manua we stayed at Casa Soleil. Perfectly located close to Echo Beach and Batu Bolong and easy if you want to take the car to Berawa or Seminyak. For other villas, you can also check out VYG villas or Fella Villas. We can also recommend The Apartments Canggu or Umalas or check out The Slow if you're looking for a more laidback hotel vibe walking distance to the beach. Look mainly around the streets Jalan Batu Bolong, Jalan Neyalan and Jalan Padang Linjong (Echo Beach).
- Uluwatu: we stayed at Karma Kandara. It was a collaboration so if it's above your budget we can imagine. Check out Sun & Surf Stay, Sal Secret Spot, Gravity Hotel, Mule Malu, Mahi Mahi Villas, Mick's Place, Mu Bali or Uluwatu Surf Villas.
9. How to manage the level of sun exposure having the powerful Bali sun?
We brought a natural SPF 50 for babies from a Dutch brand called NAIF (but I guess there are many other good ones!), his sun hat from Zara (actually a few, in case one got wet or if we would loose one!), and some UV-protection swim suits. And we stayed out of the sun on the hottest part of the day. When on the beach we were laying in the shadow with him.
10. Last but not least: Is Bali a good holiday destination with a baby?
YES! Definitely! It's not totally stress-free travel in terms of distance, tropical climate and hygiene. But it's perfect for both parents and baby to enjoy... and far from boring as you can travel around the island to beautiful places, beaches and accommodations.
Also, as a new mom and dad, this would be YOUR time to go out for a massage and being pampered. And not worrying about cooking or running your household. Relax, go out for brekkies and lunch, order in dinner or room service, nap with baby by the beach and soak up some sunshine after probably being indoors lots in your first weeks as new parents. TIP: Maybe bring friends with kids or grandma and grandpa might be a good idea, so mom and dad can go on a dinner date or rest a little bit more :)
Use the VIP transfer service + driver pick-up from the airport in Denpasar, Bali. If you arrive at the airport with kids you usually can skip the line but with the VIP service, they will await you at the gate and take care of all things after: passport control, visa and luggage claim. All while you wait in the lounge with your little one(s). If you google this you'll get many ways to order this - we used Bali Fast Forward service.
Hope this info for traveling to Bali with a baby was of help for you! Let us know if you have more questions or if you have some more tips or experiences to share.
Also read: Packing list for Bali with baby