Firstly, I´m only considering country-specific issues here. I f you want more general advice there are some links to good websites at the foot of this article.
Ecuadorians are almost all comfortable around children and very tolerant of boisterous, over-excited and even downright bad behavior. You can take children almost anywhere. Hotels are very relaxed about young children sharing your bed, although they won´t have a cot. Restaurants generally do have highchairs and even smart establishments will welcome you in with children. You can enjoy a meal without having to worry about bothering the other diners – they won´t be bothered.
Travelling with children is a great way to break the ice with the locals. Not only will your child probably be more adept at making friends than you, they will also attract the attention and sympathy of all around you who will go even more out of their way to help you than normal.
While this attitude is very welcoming, it doesn´t actually mean that all Ecuadorians spend too much time thinking about children´s needs. Here are some things to bear in mind:
• It´s very rare to find a low wash basin in a bathroom – I only remember McDonalds having this, and only the bus station in Guayaquil has toilets for boys and girls. Some malls and Guayaquil airport have baby changing areas but don´t expect to find them in restaurants.
• Apart from having an insatiable urge to take unnecessary risks, intercity bus drivers also like to show movies that are entirely unsuitable for children. Sit at the back if you can because there is usually only one TV at the front, or try requesting a more appropriate choice.
• There´s unlikely to be a toilet on the bus. Sometimes there´s a door but it´s locked and there is no water. The exceptions are the longer non-stop routes but even then ask before you buy the ticket and check before you leave. If your child really can´t wait, the drivers are usually fairly sympathetic to having to stop in the middle of nowhere for 2 minutes.
• Children´s activity books aren´t so widely available and are more expensive so bring a supply.
• Few towns and cities are stroller-friendly so getting across roads, up kerbs and into any form of public transport can be a mission.
• Dirt and bacteria are rife. You need to be armed with some liquid hand gel and a pack of wipes and be constantly alert to what children are touching or eating, even more than usual.
• It´s easy to see a doctor at short notice and get medicine from a pharmacy. There´s a great product called Neogazol for when a baby gets gases. When we travelled in the highlands with Santino it was invaluable.
• Health and safety hasn´t really made it to Ecuador. That can have advantages ( taxi drivers don´t refuse to take you with no car seat as in the UK) but you need to be prepared to do you own risk assessments all the time (tell that taxi driver to get off his mobile phone, stop beeping his horn and respect the lanes and the traffic lights)!
Here are some links to pages that provide some helpful advice for travel with children.