Let’s talk about what it’s really like to raise a baby in Mexico (as an expat). Lots of people ask me about our life in Mexico. To be honest, there are many things that are similar to the US about our daily life. This is especially true when we, and many people in the middle and upper classes, frequently travel to the States and bring back baby products from there.
I might have mentioned at some point, that Mexicans are allowed to bring in 300 dollars worth of goods, which is how we have been able to bring in baby gear from the United States. Baby products are ridiculously expensive here, particularly those made in China, so in a lot of ways it looks like we could be living in Anytown, USA with all of our American baby gear. However, when you live here, some aspects of raising a baby are just different.
How Raising a Baby is Different in Mexico
I’ll touch upon a few points, regarding the main differences in raising a baby in Mexico so far.
1) Water Safety
When Baby Boy hears the sound of water, he instantly looks at our jug (garrafon) of drinking water. It is to the point where he is confused when the water sound is not coming from there. This is because we do not drink the tap water in Mexico.
an old picture, but you can see it on the left
2) Walks / Driving Culture
I go on daily walks with Baby Boy, but on those walks I also frequently encounter children on the street. They come in from the villages outside the city. I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness every time I walk by with my nice stroller, and a mother is trying to carry multiple children in wraps while walking up to cars to sell candy or ask for food.
Additionally, many of our neighbors will not walk except inside our gated community for reasons of “security”. I am most definitely an anomaly.
3) Bath Time
Back to the water issue, it is very very hard to prevent Baby Boy from putting wet toys in his mouth, and actually at this point (8 months) we don’t worry about it too much. When he was younger we had to be quite vigilant as our tap water is far from clean.
4) Baby Friendly Culture
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, babies are loved by strangers! I get comments every single time I go out, without fail. There is none of that mind-your-own-business mentality around here.
Local superstitions mean that Baby Boy is frequently touched by strangers on the hands, feet, cheeks and so on. This is to prevent bad juju from complementing him.
Needless to say, it took a while for me to get used to this and I still semi-cringe inside when I see a stranger leaning in for the touch.
The nannies everywhere! As a matter of fact, I have not even met most of the mothers on my street. Though I recognize the kids and their nannies, I only see mothers in the evening, if at all.
And to clarify, the majority of these mothers do not work, there is just a nanny culture here. This of course, as it relates to the upper-middle class.
7) Food and Formula Options in Mexico
The green, organic, local, back to nature movements have not shown up here yet. [Update 2020: this is getting better every year!] So for those that can afford it- formula is the way to go. My choices for store-bought baby foods are very limited, as in Gerber or Gerber.
8) No House Foundation
At 11 months, Baby Boy has been obsessed with picking at anything hole-like, and extracting dirt with his little fingers. Prime culprits have been grout lines between tiles, any dirt patch on the grass, but especially, these holes we have in the travertine tiles on our floors.
There is no foundation in the house, so the tiles are placed right over the ground, and where the tiles disintegrates: hello dirt! One of the unique perks for a Baby Boy in Mexico- digging inside the house!
[Caveat: This is not true for all houses, but it applies to ours].
9) Play Kitchen
On a lighter note, then there’s this find. The Mexican equivalent of a play kitchen…is a Taco Stand!
A Final Word on Babies in Mexico
All in all, I think Mexico is a GREAT place to raise a baby, in-spite of, or perhaps even because of, the differences. And I do have to give a caveat, that many of these pertain to our specific living situation and not to everyone in Mexico.
I think those are the big ones. I’ll write more if I think of them, but I think this does show some of the big day to day differences in raising a baby here.
Is there anything else you’d like to hear about regarding raising a baby in Mexico?
P.S. Are you considering moving to Guadalajara? Start here. Then check out our favorite places to eat. And if you can’t get enough of Mexico- you can find all the posts here.
Before moving to Mexico, I highly suggest you come to check it out on a shorter visit. Begin planning using the links below!