Children’s Car Seats
Throughout the USA children are required to use child car safety seats. As in the UK, the seat required is dependent on your child’s age, height and weight so it’s worth some weighing (in lbs) and measuring before you travel and ensuring that you have the correct seat available to use. For the most part if you choose to take a seat with you from the UK then this is likely to be
perfectly acceptable as European laws on child car seats tend to be more stringent. Frustratingly however, US car seat laws are determined individually by each state so it is worth double checking. Particularly for older children as almost all states require a booster seat.
You can check the requirements for each state here:
This tool is also great for a quick way of checking what you are required to use: http://www.babycenter.com/car-seat
Shopping for necessities (or where to buy nappies and formula!)
You only need to take enough nappies, formula or food for your journey and perhaps first day. Shops are open 7 days a week in most parts of the USA and many of them are open 24/7 in the large cities.
Target (usually a car ride away), Walmart, Walgreens, and Duane Reade are the main places you will see in which you can stock up on regular nappies and they tend to be the cheapest . Other local brands of supermarket will also stock baby items as well as more upmarket stores like Wholefoods but these do tend to be more expensive.
In terms of nappies, the sizes are different to the UK even when it is the same brand so it is worth having an idea of your baby or child’s weight (in lbs), you can then easily identify which nappies will fit the bill. Pampers and Huggies are widely available as well as several American brands and supermarket own brands.
Formula differs in terms of brands in the US but there are numerous brands available. We used Enfamil which I found my children adapted to easily from SMA Gold, although of course every baby is different and jet lag may also influence their appetite. Milk comes in ready mixed cartons which are useful when travelling as well as powdered formula, as in the UK. You can also buy pre-measured sachets if powder which is convenient when travelling or out and about. Sterilising is not as commonplace in the US, most dishwashers have a sterile setting which can be used to wash bottles or if you are keen to sterilise then purchase a travel steriliser before travelling.
The most prevalent brand of baby food is Gerber who provide all the usual purees and other weaning foods. Their yogurts were particularly popular with our children. This is a growing market and more and more brands are breaking through all the time including Ella’s kitchen and Plum baby which are available widely in the UK.
If you are breastfeeding your baby then this is legal and widely accepted in many parts of the USA, although there aren’t many mothers’ rooms as you might find in the UK. For some people however, there is still an element of discomfort with this natural act. America is still in many parts a very conservative and often religious society and so, to avoid conflict, it is sensible to be discreet when feeding your baby in public. Having said that, there is a federal law that says it is legal to breastfeed in public and many states have their own laws protecting a woman’s right to do so.
If your child becomes ill
A sick child on holiday is always really worrying but healthcare in the US is not hard to find. In an emergency, the number for the emergency services is 911, or if you attend a hospital you are looking for the Emergency Room (ER). For minor aliments pharmacists can give advice and dispense non-prescription drugs as in the UK. If you need to see a GP, google ‘paediatric walk in clinic’ and your location to get a list of surgeries, although it can be worth phoning ahead to check they will see you as not all clinics will treat babies. Your hotel or the local tourist information may also be able to point you in the right direction. For more advice see our travel insurance section.