Baby supplies in Bangladesh
I thought I would write a quick evaluative post about baby stuff and what you can and can’t get in Dhaka, and in Bangladesh in general.
You can get nappies, often Pampers but lots of other brands. The place to head to for nappies (often called “baby diaper”) would be a pharmacy. Bangladeshis tend not to put their babies in disposable nappies, except for when they go out of the house. It’s surprising really but they simply change their babies undergarments when they need to several times a day. I also think that the Bangladeshi babies learn very quickly to use potties because of this.
In Gulshan 2 in Dhaka the pharmacies sell bumper packs of nappies which may be too big to carry around with you but you can get all different sizes... What you can’t get (and you can in India) is packs of two Pampers nappies in corner shops… In Bangladesh I never saw them anywhere apart from a pharmacy and they are definitely a luxury good. Generally, the Pampers seem to be imported from India or Thailand. The cost is (very roughly) around 1000 taka (£9) for 48 nappies.
Indian Pampers tend to be the “pant” style i.e. it’s a pull up type nappy. This is in contrast to the tabbed nappies we get in the UK. It took me ages to work out that when you take them off you simply rip them down the sides… maybe it’s just me! But just thought I’d point that out in case you also had trouble working it out. We never had a Pampers nappy let us down! We mainly stuck to Pampers but in Bogra, for example, we had some different ones called “Thai Pant Style Baby Diapers” which were 110 taka (£1) for 5 and they were absolutely brilliant.
With the warmer weather, Tiger started to get nappy rash so I bought her lots of tubes of D-Rash from the pharmacy at 50 taka a tube (50p) and this was brilliant. I also bought an imported tub of Sudocream for 500 odd taka (£5) and this was great thick cream and worked too. The only problem with the D-Rash is that you do have to buy a lot of it and there’s no point in rationing it.
It’s worth bringing a stash of baby wipes as again you can buy them from the pharmacy but they are fairly expensive over 200 taka (£2) so about double the UK price. You can sometimes get funky little packs of wipes and definitely worth buying them when you see them. And nappy bags are not available so bring your own!
Baby formula can be bought also in all pharmacies and we generally had Nestle Lactogen 2 which is 490 taka (£4.40) for a packet (sealed foil packet in a cardboard box). It also comes in a tin which is more expensive 610 taka (£5.50) for 400g. Definitely in Dhaka and Sylhet you could buy UK imported formula e.g. Cow and Gate but it was very expensive. In the UK the cost is £8; in Bangladesh the same thing is £20. But there’s no reason to buy the imported formula when they have plenty of Nestle Lactogen.
I would absolutely urge you to bring all baby food with you. I took loads of Ella’s Kitchen pouches, baby rice and baby porridge and stashed it in Dhaka replenishing when I was passing. You can buy baby food (pouches and jars) imported from the UK in the so called “super shops” (supermarkets) but it is so expensive – around three times the UK price. Of course you can also buy from the market and make it yourself; possibly worth considering taking a tiny blender with you. But for us, we just had the packets and this was great for convenience. We never had to buy more baby rice or porridge during the trip either, but we did regularly top up on formula. You can fairly regularly buy Cerelac (porridge type mix) in big pharmacies at around 400 taka (£4)… this is however twice the UK price.
I also carried one small weaning bowl and spoon which was good for making up baby rice. The Ella’s Kitchen screw on spoons from Boots are great and fit all kinds of pouches. I also brought a pestle and mortar style masher and bowl which would be good for bananas etc but ended up being a bit of a weird shape to carry around and wasn’t using it enough so left it behind.
Big towns with big pharmacies seem to cater for everything. In smaller towns you will always find baby formula and you should find nappies but I generally kept my food stocks quite high so I never really got too low on anything.
Baby clothes is an interesting one. There are lots of shops for baby clothes.. and I was finding that in September I needed cool cotton dresses / suits so what was on sale in Bangladesh was perfect for the climate. You do have to look around quite a bit for the styles – often they are a bit too cutesey for Western tastes and not terribly cool – but if you search for long enough you will always find something to suit your taste. A nice baby dress would be around 400 taka (£4). I also found that they like to stick stuff onto dresses (beads, decorations etc) which wouldn’t pass health and safety regulations in the UK as Tiger could simply pull off the beads and this could be a choking hazard, so take care. I didn’t find a lot of things like baby vests around but due to the heat, I don’t think they put their babies in vests much.
I would have absolutely no idea where to buy a gro-bag / baby sleeping bag in Bangladesh although I daresay you could buy the material and get one made at a tailor shop. Again, this comes down to the fact that Bangladeshis would generally co-sleep with their kids. So this would be something to bring from home. I always travelled with two in case one was wet (washed / been sick on etc).
When we were in India we used the Koo-di pop up bassinet. I originally brought a blow up mattress, small foot pump and two sheets for the mattress. On reflection, you do not need the blow up mattress and anyway they only get holes / deflate eventually. The Koo-di bassinet (and the next stage pop up bubble cot for post six months) come with a thin mattress which is really fine. It may need a wash/wipe from time to time especially if the baby is sick onto it but could also be used with a pillow case and I now just don’t believe that anything more than this thin mattress is needed. With baby rolling too, it’s better not to have the blow up mattress as it adds height and it is more likely that the baby will be able to roll the whole bassinet over onto its side. We had no such problems once we moved to the bubble cot around 7 months.
Temperatures in hotel rooms were a slight issue where we (rarely) had no AC. Tiger definitely slept better in an AC hotel room around 20 degrees. Once in the Sunderbans she slept in just a nappy and in her Koodi bubble cot so it is possible to survive with just a fan but it’s definitely preferable in September to have AC hotel rooms.
Regarding mosquitos there were very few, so barely a problem, but I did regularly use Jungle Formula Kids lotion for Tiger and normal 50% Deet Jungle Formula for myself. I was repeatedly warned about dengue, which does claim lives, but definitely felt that in September the risk was much lower than during the height of the rainy season in August. In good hotels, with AC, however you will avoid mosquitos and ensure a very good level of safety.