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I’ve never been a new mom anywhere but in Senegal, so some of these may be universal. But I know that when we moved here and I was pregnant with our first, I felt clueless and just wanted someone to hand me a shopping list. Well, if that’s you… here you go! You may also be interested in this post on having a baby in Dakar.

1. Ring sling

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Babywearing is a practical option in Dakar and also very appreciated by the dakarois, but it can get pretty hot. I have a Moby Wrap, but it’s only usable a couple months (wipes away sweat) of the year. I also have an Ergo and would definitely recommend it for older babies. But for a newborn (or older) in hot season, a lightweight ring sling is the way to go. I have a linen Sakura Bloom sling (lifesaver daily) and also a wax print Djiby Wrap from Malika Monkeys, which is a very budget-friendly option available locally.

2. Phone numbers
* SOS Médecin: 33 889 1515 24-hour doctor service that comes to your home. They can do rapid malaria tests, write prescriptions, arrange ambulance if needed… We love SOS!

* Pédiatrie24: 33 864 4422 New to Dakar, 24-hour pediatrician service that does walk-ins or home visits.

* Bio24 lab: 33 889 5151 THE full service lab in Plateau.

* CMCO lab: 33 824 9929 Located in Fann so more convenient to get to, has shorter wait times, but does not do all lab tests.

* Pharmacie Guigon: 33 823 0333 The BIG pharmacy for Dakar. If they don’t have it, you’re out of luck.

* Pharmacie Mathilde: 33 865 0765 Our corner pharmacy. Not huge, but well-stocked and the pharmacist/owner is wonderful. She can order whatever you need in 24 hours. If you live in Mermoz, this is a good one to know.

* Innovation Taxi: 77 030 3594 Whether going to doctor’s appointments or just a playdate, this is a great taximan to call. He’s safe, reliable, has seatbelts and AC. Hourly rates and more info on his Facebook page.

3. Earrings

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Baby girl will not be considered a baby girl until there are sparklies in her earlobes. It’s of course entirely up to you as to whether or not to poke holes to adorn her ears or not. If you choose not to, just be prepared to say, Jiggeen la (it’s a girl) over and over.

4. Locally available medications
Efferalgan: fever reducer, pain reliever
Stérimar: saline nasal spray that is wonderful for keeping colds at bay
Exophene: heat rash prevention and treatment

5. Antibacterial wipes

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It’s truly wonderful to live in a place where everyone (grandmas to presidential guards) loves babies. But in a hand-shaking, baby-loving culture, you’re going to want some wipes in your purse or diaper bag.

6. Mbott cloth

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Once your baby has head control, a Senegalese mbott carrying cloth will be your best friend. Well maybe not quite, but close! Lightweight, easy to toss in your bag and comfortable for both mom and baby. Also doubles as a portable play mat. There is a little learning curve, but well worth it. (I’m working on a tutorial for tying them. Just hold your horse carts and I’ll get to it when I can.)

7. Community

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Nearly every neighborhood has a playgroup, songs group, Mommy & Me group or other similar type community meeting weekly. Ask around (or ask me!) and get connected to one. The Dakar Women’s Group is also a great place to meet other moms (or ‘mums’) in your area.

8. Booster seat

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Not only is it more practical at home than a high chair, boosters have the advantage of being portable. This comes in handy at restaurants (some have high chairs, but usually pretty gross) and when traveling. We have this one from Fisher Price and it’s great.

9. Diaper wipes
This one may seem obvious, but bear with me. Disposable diapers here cost about double the price in the US, so if you can do cloth (hey, finally a good use for the bidet!), go for it. Diaper wipes are also not only expensive here, they are often dried out by the time you open the package. You can add water, but they never seem to hydrate back up like the American kind. And of course, you’re going to want a diaper wipe warmer.

That was a joke, people.