Paris and Florence with a 1 year old

I will be traveling to Paris for one week (end of August) and Florence for one week (beginning of September) and I'm having trouble deciding what I should bring and what to get when I'm there for my 1 year old. My biggest stressor right now is deciding between getting a soft carrier (ergo baby), framed backpack (phli&teds metro) and/or umbrella stroller? I've seen some people say the ergo is sufficient but my concern is that he won't be able to sleep in something like that since there is no neck support. The framed backpack is big and bulky plus a lot of museums won't let you bring it in. The stroller will be a pain on the metro and at restaurants. Has anyone travelled to these 2 cities with any of these items and a 1 year old? What would you recommend? Are there any sites you weren't allowed to bring something like this in? Also... My son recently switched from formula to almond milk (kind of hard to transport) Does anyone know if this will be hard to find in Paris or Florence? Any help is greatly appreciated :)

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1364 posts

" My family and I go to Europe every other year and it's a full family event so leaving him behind is not an option - nor do I want to be away from my son for 2 weeks. " I understand not wanting to leave your baby, but have you done this before with an infant? It really does make for a vastly different full family event!

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
257 posts

I always ask why take a baby to Europe. They will never remember it nor enjoy it!
I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I adore children but this kind of vacation is for adults.

Posted by Kaley
Orlando, Fl, USA
7 posts

My family and I go to Europe every other year and it's a full family event so leaving him behind is not an option - nor do I want to be away from my son for 2 weeks. He might not remember the trip but that's not really the point. At this age he's free to fly, eat, and stay. I know traveling to Europe with a baby isn't for everyone but it is for my family.

Posted by Kimberlee
Birmingham, USA
24 posts

We took our grown children and 8 month old granddaughter to Germany and Austria. We bought a car seat online before we traveled over that can also be a stroller because we rented a car. Her mom mostly carried her in a soft carrier. We all had a wonderful time and can't wait to take her back. Hope you all have fun travels.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

HI there!
We have also taken our kids all over the world since they were babies! I would bring a sturdy stroller if I were you. I don't know how big your 1 y/o is, but it would have killed me to carry one of my kiddos around for 2 weeks in a soft pack. We took our "big" stroller to Europe a couple of times when the kids were babies, switching to umbrella stroller when they were big enough to climb in and out themselves or sometimes walk. You can pile gear on the stroller, including the Ergo in case you find yourself in a situation where you want it. Much better for naps, too. The ideal situation is baby asleep in the stroller as you savor some lovely museum. Buses are easier than the metro, esp if you have a stroller that can be quickly folded up for boarding. You can take your stroller in the Louvre. Plenty of elevators, too. At small shops and cafes, people often leave the stroller outside (sometimes with the baby in in!). No one will bother it, and it makes it much easier to manage small spaces. In situations that might seem good for a backpack, we got many miles of good use out of dad's shoulders. My kids both loved that. Shoulders are free, easy and take up no additional space.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

Look, she says she's taking her babythat's that. We should take that as a given when giving her advice. My husband was taken on all kinds of trips, including backpacking, when he was a baby. No one ever expressed regret. If that's the way she gets to travel, so be it. As to your original question, Kaley, while I agree that the soft carrier/backpack may get tiring, you have to also consider that there will be a lot of cobblestones in these two places, which you maybe unfamiliar navigating with a stroller. However, surely the mothers there do it, but they are used to it. Backpacks are definitely out at museums, as it is considered a possible hazard for knocking things over. One possibility is to rent strollers on those days a backpack can't be used. I googled "rent stroller Paris" and there were hits so it may be worth looking into. I myself know nothing about doing that, but maybe someone here does.

Posted by Kaley
Orlando, Fl, USA
7 posts

Awesome! Thanks for the advice on the stroller! I was really dead set on not bringing one but I think I will now. I have a nice Chicco lightweight stroller - about 10 lbs- that I think will work, although I would like something with a cup holder and tray for snacks. hmmmm....

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Families who live in Europe take their young children with them to sites in Europe - just as American families do in the U.S. Why shouldn't an American family take their young children to Europe if they want to and are prepared to modify their activities to suit the needs of their child? I've seen European families all over European museums and other sites with small children dozing peacefully in strollers while their parents enjoyed the galleries, etc. And I'm glad parents are mindful of fellow visitors' feet! :) Kaley, I hope you find the best equipment for your trip and that you take many pictures of your little one. When older, it will mean something to him that he began his European travels at a very tender age.

Posted by Kaley
Orlando, Fl, USA
7 posts

Thanks Christina! Great idea about renting the stroller when we get there. I will look into that as well. I'm somewhat familiar with both cities - This will be my 5th trip to Paris and my 3rd to Florence. But it will be my first time with a little one. I wish I would have paid more attention to what mothers in those cities were doing! oh well! Just to say my peace about bring my son - as I mentioned I know bringing a 1 year old isn't for everyone. All children are different. My son happens to be very easy going and we are use to long outings together as we have been doing so since he was about 2 months old (we go to Disney World almost every weekend). If I thought it was going to be a disaster I wouldn't go. I understand it won't be as easy as the last times but he is part of the family. I'm planning less than I normally would and if he happens to have a complete meltdown, I can take him back to our apartment and not feel like I'm missing out.

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

Kaley, check out the website ciao bambino for helpful hints. Please let us know how your trip turns out with your little one. Your experiences will help other parents traveling with kiddies. Have a great time.

Posted by Bonnie
Acworth, Georgia, USA
31 posts

Our son and his family lived in Rome and traveled extensively with a child from age one to four. Their recommendations are as follows: In Paris an umbrella stroller is OK. They used a jogging stroller which was hard to carry up and down stairs but she was comfortable in it and they could store things underneath. In addition it rolls well over cobblestones which you will find in Florence. In Florence they recommend Ergo or the jogging stroller. If you take an umbrella stroller it will be difficult in Florence. They always kept the jogging stroller with them in the airport and checked it at the gate so they always had it until they got on the plane and it was waiting for them when they got off. As for the almond milk, you should be able to find it in Italy at a Pharmacy. Look for the big green cross. Bottom line, they recommend Ergo or the jogging stroller.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Kaley , important, while your son may be free in most hotels in Paris, he is most definitely not invisiable.. you must include him in reservation numbers.. as hotels are bound by firecode laws that limit occupancy numbers in rooms, and your baby does count as a person... So while he may be free, please be sure to mention him in the reservation . There was a very upset woman who posted on tripadvisor.com a few months ago.. her and her hubby and their 18 month child were turned away at the hotel desk. They had booked a double room, there was no triple available and when they arrived the hotel refused them the room. Really. Secondly, you also say your child flys free. Sorry, that's one economy I will never understand. My babies got seats on planes.. I put them in carseats , they are safer and comfier for long flights!! Babies can fly out of your arms in turbulence. Its not a risk I was willing to take. And yes, of course take a stroller, millions of Europeon moms do.. unless you are already used to carrying child on back 12 hours a day.. I know by a year old my kids were just too heavy for long days on my back.

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

I second Pat's recommendation of buying a seat for your child. Not only for the safety issues but comfort as well. It means you will have to bring baby's car seat for the trip. We traveled to Hawaii with our grand daughter who was 11 mos. old at the time. She was not only safe but napped comfortably. Was a 14 hour flight and I think my son and daughter-in-law were happy with the decision to get her a seat. You

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

I second Pat's recommendation of buying a seat for your child. Not only for the safety issues but comfort as well. It means you will have to bring baby's car seat for the trip. We traveled to Hawaii with our grand daughter who was 11 mos. old at the time. She was not only safe but napped comfortably. Was a 14 hour flight and I think my son and daughter-in-law were happy with the decision to get her a seat. You

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Kaley... there have been a number of discussions regarding types of strollers, etc. so if you do a search for it you might find some additional information. As far as going to Disney every week, you probably have seen my daughter and her kids there... they live in Lake Mary and are regulars too:) And they would not go to Europe and leave their kids home either. You gotta love all the unsolicited parenting advice you get here. And for the child not remembering it, you will, and frankly there is a reason parents do things with their kids when they are babies, and play with them and read to them. They might not remember it, but it shapes who they are... so take the little one to the beauty and great art of the world...some of it will soak in.

Posted by Mira
Midwest
108 posts

To everyone who says that this type of vacation is for adults...why? And what are parents to do? Wait 18 years to travel? Leave your kids with a sitter for at least a week or two? I've taken my kids to all sorts of places in the US (NY, SF, DC, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Hawaii...), with no one batting an eye, why is Europe different? There are kids all over Europe, the entire continent is certainly not just for adults, European families visit other places on the continent, so why shouldn't North American families visit too, if they have the interest and ability? And no, my kid doesn't remember the trip from when he was 1 (he's 3 now), but he recognizes the pictures, talks about the things he saw (because of the pictures and video) and gets the idea that travel is fun. The now-6 year old remembers. I'm not traveling for memory creation anyway, I'm traveling to enjoy new places and time with my kids. Seeing your child delight at the Eiffel tower or at French kids playing soccer is 100% worthwhile. Even if we all were to get amnesia tomorrow, I'd still travel. The experience in and of itself is enough. I will answer the specific question in the next post, I've gotten close to the posting limit. This "don't travel with kids" business is obviously a topic I'm passionate about :)

Posted by Mira
Midwest
108 posts

As for the specific questions, I was in Paris with a 1 year old two years ago. I have not been to Florence with kids, so I can only speak to Paris. I would bring an umbrella stroller and an Ergo. We had good luck with the Ergo, and my son could sleep in it. Usually, he was on my husband's back, but in museums that banned back carriers, we switched him to the front. The front isn't as comfortable as back for a bigger child, but it works for a while. Getting the stroller on and off the Metro was a pain. Doable, but a pain. Ditto for restaurants. When we had the stroller, we'd either eat outside and fold the stroller, or do picnics. But Paris is a great walking city and the stroller was great for the days we just wanted to walk for 10+ miles a day. I would go with the lightest, easiest folding stroller that is also comfortable. We had a combi that folded fairly small, and had a shoulder strap so you could more easily carry it down staris and such. My feeling is that a framed carrier would be way too cumbersome, especially in crowded spaces like the metro or climbing stairs, etc. I don't remember seeing anyone with these in cities, but they are popular in hiking destinations. I have no idea about almond milk, sorry. I found soy milk easily enough. Maybe check if there are vegetarian grocery stores?

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Hello Miranda, As to "why not bring one year old's to Europe?" As someone who isn't in favor of it, (and the parent of two teenagers) perhaps I can shed some light on the reasons. I am sure I will get a lot of flack for it, but you asked.
My main objection is that is seems to be more about what the parents want than what is in the best interests of the child. When my children were babies/toddlers, we purposely chose vacations that were geared to things they might enjoy and would minimize disruptions to their schedules as little as possible- and my kids were very easy going. National parks were big on our list - big cities were not. Why? Simple. Kids generally don't like to be confined for hours on end. They want to get out and explore -crawling, walking, running, touching, etc, etc. and museums, shops and famous sites are not conducive to this. For most people, the point of going to Europe (and it's big cities) is to "see the sights", dine in the restaurants, shop in stores, etc. These are not activities that young kids enjoy. Now, can you structure a vacation outside the big cities? Absolutely. But you can also do that in the U.S. for significantly less money and travel time and so again, why go to Europe? At that age, the kids don't care. They are just as happy splashing in a pool in Kansas as they are in one on the French Riviera.

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

I was not going to respond to the naysayers. However, whether or not you travel to Europe with a baby or toddler is a matter of personal choice. Works for some, others not. Kaley stated her reasons for traveling with her baby in an earlier post. Maybe we should respect her choice and try to assist her with helpful advice.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Look, she says she's taking her babythat's that. We should take that as a given when giving her advice. I love that. Straight talk from a straight-talkin' Upper West Side New Yorker. :) My main objection is that it seems to be more about what the parents want than what is in the best interests of the child. Is it really in the best interest of a one-year-old child to be left home with a sitter for 2 weeks while the rest of the family goes off on holiday? I think a baby would keenly feel the lengthy separation and not understand it. Better to be with the family where the child will receive the best care, attention, and love, regardless of where they are. And on the flip side, the parents will enjoy the trip much more if their child is with them (even if they have to adjust their activities somewhat), rather than thinking constantly about whether all is well back at home. Separation anxiety is a two-way street.

Posted by Kaley
Orlando, Fl, USA
7 posts

First off I would like to thank everyone who has offered me great advice and gone out of their way to find answers to my questions! You all are awesome and I thank you dearly. For those of you who have decided to make this your forum for unsolicited parenting advice - I think there are other sites like babycenter.com for that. My decision to take my child to Europe does not make me a bad parent - frankly I think it makes me an awesome one. I'm exposing him to different cultures at a young age. I hope this will help his appreciation for other cultures and the fine arts. He might not remember the details of the trip but he's being exposed to something new which stimulates the imagination. I plan to take him as much as I can. As other posters have mentioned - what about parents that live in large cities? Or live IN EUROPE?!Do they not venture to the city until their children are older? I think the answer is that they do and more often than Americans.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Well, I should have expected that:-) Thanks Rose and Kaley for your insightful and polite responses to my post - which BTW was in response to Miranda's question and not addressed to either of you.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

Since the question has been asked about what European parents in the big cities do, I'll answer. If they have the money, they get their kids to the countryside as often as possible: visiting family, camps, mountains, etc. I'm sure they would love to take them to Disneyland every weekend! Whatever works!

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

Rose, I calls 'em like I sees 'em. Other people's parenting is none of our beeswax.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
749 posts

Kaley - You are an awesome parent in my book. I would never have abandoned my children at that age for 2 weeks to any sitters, even family members, and especially not to go off on holiday. Two weeks in Europe is not "date night" for the parents...that's an eternity to a child separated from their parents. YOU would be miserable without him. Of course, now that my kids are in their 20s, I can't abandon them often enough to get away on a holiday!!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Kaley , you may or may not be an "awesome parent" ( I don't think whether someone travels with their baby determines that.. , and I DID travel with mine).. so do be sure to consider what I said about infant safety, its awesome to spend the money on your childs safety and get them a seat on the plane. Also, someone brought up the metro and strollers, exactly why many French mommies prefer using the bus system instead, no stairs to deal with an no snapping shut doors !! The buses also have room in the middle for strollers.

Posted by Dee
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
5 posts

Hi Kayley, We took our 5 month old daughter to italy for a month a couple of years ago. It was wonderful. We took a Chicco liteway and an ergo. We used both extensively and were glad to have both. We took a car seat too. We traveled by train for the most part. I carried my daughter in the carrier when we traveled from city to city using her stroller as a luggage cart and we took a bungee cord to attach het car seat to the stroller while we travlled between cities. I only took the seat, not the base since the one I had could be used without the base if you used s seatbelt clip. You will be glad to have the stroller so you can recline it and your child can nap. The carrier was also nice to have, but could be quite hot at times. While we did have to carry our stroller up stairs the odd time, it was beyond useful. Even for diaper changes since there seem to be very few change tables in Rome and Florence. PM me if you have any questions. D.

Posted by Kaley
Orlando, Fl, USA
7 posts

Thanks Dee! I actually have the Chicco Liteway stroller! I just bought the Beco Soleil carrier (just like the ergo except it can hold a higher weight capacity). The only thing bugging me about the Chicco is that it doesn't have a snack tray. With a 5 month old I'm sure you didn't really need this feature but I'm thinking with a 13 month old it might be needed. I don't want to have to buy a new stroller just for the tray though! What did you do with your little one when eating out? How did the Chicco hold up with all the cobblestone streets? Thank you!

Posted by Dee
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
5 posts

Kayley, The chicco was great on the cobblestones because the back wheels have independent suspension. The chicco is Italian, so I think it was designed with that in mind. I purchased a Velcro snack tray for another stroller we use at home that didn't have one. It was made by the Jolly Jumper company (not sure if they're in the USA), but it just velcros to the side rails of the stroller. Ours works great. I think I bought it at walmart. We are taking the chicco for our trip in late August again this time with a three year old. As for the restaurants, maybe you want to get one of those tie chairs. They're like a fabric booster seat. I think that the Munchkin company also makes an inflatable booster. I agree that your child is probably too big to keep in your lap and won't like sitting in the stroller all the time too. Dee