Rome is one of my must-visit places and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to do so last Christmas with a couple of friends. It was also the first time we went to a new city since having our little boy and the experience taught us a lot of things – both about Rome as a city and the changes of having a baby while on a trip, too. So for fellow parents planning to visit Rome anytime soon, these are some of the things you may want to take note of.
Bring snacks/meals for the little ones
Younger babies tend to have their meals earlier than adults. At the time we went to Rome, my son usually eats his lunch at around 10:30 – 11 AM and his dinner at around 6 – 6:30 PM. Move it a little bit late than that (even for just half an hour) and he will be too sleepy to stay awake for his meals – especially if the food is not his favorite.
Italians have their meal times a little bit late than most people do and surprisingly, there are good restaurants in Rome (even those situated within close proximity of tourist hot spots) that will not be open for lunch not until it is 1-2 PM!
So if traveling with a small child who eats earlier, it is best to bring his/her food (meals included) with you. It is a lot easier to stop by a café or an empty park bench to feed your child his/her meals at the time you want them to rather than find a restaurant to accommodate you. If they are still awake as you are having lunch (or dinner), your child will definitely not think twice gobbling on (or playing with) pizza and pasta even after they have had their meals! A full stomach can help them sleep longer naps, allowing you to take peaceful strolls around the streets of Rome, too!
Prepare to change a nappy on the bathroom floor (or in the park!)
Rome is a famous tourist destination but nappy changing facilities are close to none! Even my Italian friends find it odd how come it is like that (and are very apologetic about it), but there’s nothing much we can do, isn’t it? So if going to Rome with a baby, make sure you pack enough disposable changing mats to take with you. That way, you can protect your little one as you change his/her nappy on the bathroom floor and just throw it after use.
Ditch the pram (buggy) – bring a carrier instead
One of Rome’s distinct look are their cobblestone pavements. As my friend said, “It is one of the things that make Rome – Rome!” and I couldn’t agree more. These pavements look amazing and beautiful in photos or postcards but these are the pram’s worst enemy. Just imagine the bumpy ride your child gets when you hit a street filled with uneven cobblestones!
Instead of bringing a pram to take with you, it is more advisable to use a carrier to move around with your child. Apart from preventing your child going dizzy riding the pram, it is a lot easier to walk through the busy streets of Rome with a baby strapped to you instead of pushing him/her. Apart from that, tourist spots in Rome like the Sistine Chapel or Trevi Fountain may end up being too crowded and bringing a pram with you will only make it a lot more difficult to move or get closer to capture a photo.
Don’t fuss when you can’t visit a particular landmark or place of interest – just enjoy the time spent with family!
Before my son was born, all our trips itineraries were planned ahead. I usually research ahead of time which are the “top places to go to where” and try to plot everything to make sure we go somewhere interesting on a daily basis. My husband is the same that when he visits a new country, he would stay outdoors the entire day and only goes back to his hotel room just in time for bed. I guess that makes us suitable traveling companions in the sense that we really want to maximize and see everything a country has to offer!
Everything changed during our trip to Rome with our son. My husband and I learned that traveling as a family is more to it than capturing amazing selfies and posting on Facebook with a famous landmark as our backdrop. We learned to be flexible with our “must visit places for the day” and if things didn’t go well as planned – we easily let it go. We learned that it is a lot better to set our expectations really low on the number of places we can “tick off our list” so we don’t feel too bad if we can’t. I guess being parents and traveling with an infant made us hopeful that one visit to that country will not be the last time and we will find new opportunities to come back in the future.