Planning a trip to Rome with a baby or toddler can be daunting: can a city so big and chaotic be family friendly? In this guide, we share expert advice on what to bring, where to stay and how to get around when visiting Rome with a baby or toddler in tow.
The first time I visited as a mum, my son was a 2 month old baby. I am from Rome and while I now live in Ireland, I lived in the city for the best part of 30 years and still have family there, so I assumed a trip home would be easy. Surely, knowing the city so well would make the trip to Rome, even with baby, a breeze, right?
The reality turned out to be a bit different. Rome kept its promised in terms of charm, food and all around awesomeness, but visiting with a baby sure posed some issues I had not foreseen!
Rome is a wonderful city to visit as a family. It has lovely parks for leisurely strolls, nice weather most of the year and many family friendly accommodation options.
However, Rome is also big and busy city and it poses some challenges to families visiting with a baby, potholes and restless mosquitoes being only two of the many.
Many trips to Rome and two children later, these are my top tips about visiting Rome with baby, put together mixing insider knowledge and visitor’s doubts.
How to plan the perfect stay in Rome with a baby or toddler
Best time to visit Rome with baby or toddlers: when to go
Rome enjoys a temperate climate, but not all seasons have the gorgeous ice-cream weather we tend to associate with the Mediterranean.
When visiting Rome with baby or toddler it is wise to avoid the extremes of Rome weather in summer and winter and prefer milder times, in particular the spring or, even better, the autumn.
Winter in Rome
Winters are mild in Rome but bring frequent rain, especially in November and then again in January and February. Humidity makes the city feel colder that the temperatures on the thermometer, so make sure you have layers and warm blankets for the baby and a solid waterproof cover for the pram or buggy.
If going to Rome with a toddler, it is wise to bring wellies with you and wrap the children up in rain clothes: Rome puddles are irresistible!
Spring and autumn in Rome
By far the best times to visit the city, especially with a baby, are the spring and the autumn. In April and May the weather is mild and sunny, except for the occasional shower, and October is famous for its bright sky and pleasant temperatures.
During those months, you might find yourself reaching our for a light jacket in the evening (and a knitted, cotton cover for the baby) but you will never be threatened by excessive temperatures and you don’t have to worry about your baby overheating.
Spring and autumn are great times to enjoy Rome parks and the easiest to enjoy if travelling with a toddler, due to the many outdoor spaces available. At this time, you don’t have pool weather but opportunities to let off steam outside abound.
Summer in Rome
Summers in Rome are hot and sticky.
Romans leave the city, especially in August, and the city becomes a hot and dusty wasteland, empty of locals and filled with sun stroked tourists. This is definitely not a good time to visit Rome with a baby or toddler and one I would strongly advice avoiding not just for the sun but also for the presence of the ever annoying mosquitoes.
Rome is full of them and they are a colossal pain. They do not carry illnesses, but they are a nuisance and the peculiar breed that infests Rome’s gardens and waters are active both during the day and the night, giving you no rest. Babies often develop small allergic reactions to the bites, in the from of big, sore bumps: while nothing to worry about, they are a bothersome and they can spoil an evening out.
If you are visiting in the summer, I highly recommend bringing a mosquito net for the pram and the cot so you can keep your baby protected without having to use chemicals.
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Getting around Rome with baby or toddlers
The biggest challenge for parents visiting Rome with a baby or ever worse with a toddler is mobility. Traffic in Rome is a nightmare, cobbled streets and crazy parking habits make the city stroller-unfriendly and public transport is hit and miss (click for our survival guide to getting around Rome!).
To make your stay less stressful, I highly recommend picking accommodation in the centre so you don’t have to rely on public transport and always have a carrier with you.
Rome by taxi
Official taxis in Rome are white and they operate with the meter. They can be called using the app ‘MyTaxi’ or the hotel can ring them up for you.
In theory, it is also possible to flag a cab on the street but this doesn’t work well: there are fewer taxi than needed, in Rome, and if you need one fast you may find yourself stuck for quite a while. In Rome it is a good rule not to find yourself being in a hurry: they city sadly does not provide well to those short on time.
If catching a taxi with a baby, be advised that car seats are not compulsory on Rome taxis and drivers do not usually carry them.
We usually carried with our our maxi-cosi car seat which we also used in combination with our Quinny chassis both at home and on travels until our kids were old enough to move onto booster seats.
Strollers on Rome buses
Strollers are allows on buses and some have an area reserved for wheelchair users buggies can use too (wheelchairs have priority). However, this is one of those situations where rules and reality differ. Catching a bus in Rome with a buggy is a bit of an adventure!
Unless you find yourself on a little used route, buses in Rome are crazy busy and you often find yourself squashed in like in a can of sardines!
It is one of the reasons many people find Rome overwhelming and it is a problem for the new parent: nobody respects the designated areas on the bus so if you find yourself trying to board a full one, you’ll have to fold the stroller and bear the crowds. I wish t wasn’t this way but sadly, this is how it works!
On top of this, buses are often crowded and hardly buggy friendly: most of them have very high steps, impossible to negotiate with wheels, and no space is foresees for buggies that have, therefore, to be folded.
The best strollers for Rome
The best strollers for Rome are those that can take the city’s cobbles without falling apart or making the ride too bumpy for their little passenger. My top picks for Rome are:
Quinny, which we used as a travel system in addition with the maxi cosi car seat
Maclaren quest (we found it particularly good for the toddler years).
A very popular stroller in Rome with local parents is the Stokke Explory. This is not a travel stroller or one I would recommend buying specifically for a trip (the price is high!) but it is very popular in Rome as it gets your baby to sit higher than the car exhausts.
If you do have a stokke already and are wondering whether you should bring it to Rome, it may be worth taking this into account as it may compensate the pain of carrying a bigger stroller on a plane ride.
The best baby carriers for Rome
A baby or toddler carrier is a great piece of gear to have in Rome but even in this case, you may want to select which one to carry to avoid disappointments and awkward situations.
Because of the heavy crowds and security challenges in locations such as the Vatican or the Colosseum, structured carriers such as those with metal frames are often not allowed.
Your child preference allowing, select soft carriers that do not stick out of your body too much (they need to follow the same rules as backpacks!) and be prepared to unwrap / unbuckle them and get them through security scans if asked.
Where to buy baby equipment in Rome
Baby equipment and first necessities are easy to find in Rome.
Most big supermarkets stock baby essentials such as nappies, formula, baby food and cups, while medications and high-end baby lotions are sold at the pharmacies.
Supermarkets to keep an eye out for are Carrefour, Elite, Conad, Coop for general supplies and ‘Io Bimbo’ or ‘La Cicogna’ for specific baby products (as well as strollers, seats etc).
Eating out with baby in Rome + toddler friendly restaurants in Rome
Breastfeeding is common and widely accepted in public. You will notice people will rush to help you as soon as they see you with a baby or young child: family in Italy definitely comes first!
Restaurants are also usually family friendly: not all of them have high chairs suitable for babies but they are getting more and more common.
Both restaurants and cafes will easily warm up baby food or you or pour a glass of milk if asked. Just be aware that the quality of the milk in Italian cafes is quite fatty (it’s what you need to cappuccino foam) and might be different from what you are used to at home.
We have listed some of our favourite baby and toddler friendly food addresses in Rome here.
If visiting Rome with a toddler, you may be on a hunt for restaurants with children menus and may despair at the abslutel lack of them.
indeed, Rome doesn’t really do children menus but this doesn’t mean than the restaurant in qjuestion is not toddler friendly. Unless you go to a very high end establishment, most restaurants will be happy to make a simple meal for your child in small portion. Pasta with tomato sauce or simple grilled meat are easy to find: ask for a ‘mezza porzione’ (half portion) or just point at your toddler and you will get a child portion (sometimes at half price, sometimes sadly not)
Where to stay in Rome with baby + toddler friendly hotels in Rome
Rome has many family friendly areas but these are my favourite, for family visits.
Historical centre: the historical city centre of Rome gets the top spot because of its proximity to almost all important sights.
Staying here means you can walk everywhere and don’t have to worry about public transport: the accommodation in this area is abundant and varied and worth stretching the budget for.
Toddler friendly hotels in Rome city centre
NH Piazza Cinquecento: 5 star hotel close to the station, well equipped for families with babies and young children
Hotel Mascagni: 4 star hotel well equipped for a family stay, in a very well served central area
Hotel Le Clarisse Al Pantheon: good and friendly 3 star hotel with bigger rooms for families
Toddler friendly hotels in Rome close to a park
Porta Pia, Villa Torlonia: this is, by far, my favourite part of Rome for families. It is about 20 minutes by bus from the city centre (buses from here are usually local and not crowded) but it is green, beautiful and full of facilities for kids including beautiful parks and playgrounds. I recommend this area for longer stays and if you want to experience a less touristy, crowded side of Rome.
In this area you can check Hotel Fenix, a 4 star hotel in lovely position close to parks and shops and offering great family rooms
Toddler friendly hotels near the Vatican and beyond
The area around the Vatican is not the best connected to the city centre but has some great family friendly hotels with large gardens and pools for the summer.
Staying here is a good choice if you have a baby as you have more outside space than in the city centre.
Budget permitting you can stay at the wonderful Grand Melia Hotel (also one of our favourite hotels in Rome with a pool, you can check our selection here).
A good 4 star option is the Best Western Plus Hotel Springhouse which has special attention for families with babies and toddlers such as changing stations, food warming options and a restaurant on site with child menu.
Best toddler friendly hotels in Rome Trastevere
Trastevere is better known for nightlife rather than family friendliness but it is actually a lovely area if you are visiting Rome with a toddler. It has a wonderful local feel, lots of places to eat and smaller streets that keep fast traffic in check. A good hotel in this area is the Hotel Ripa Roma which is has family friendliness as part of its core mission and a convenient restaurant on site.
Parks you can enjoy with your baby in Rome
Rome has many gorgeous parks that are the perfect space to get a breath of fresh air and a moment of peace from the city busy roads.
Among our favourites there are:
Villa Borghese: large and beautiful it sits in the city centre and has a pond with ducks and rowing boats, a small playground and Rome zoo
Villa Doria Pamphili: a very large park equipped with playgrounds, a lovely family friendly bistrot and offering stunning views over St Peter’s dome
Villa Torlonia: smaller but beautiful, equipped with play are and a cafe’/restaurant
Villa Ada: a large park with beautiful trees, perfect for long strolls with a buggy
The best place to visit in Rome with a toddler
In case of rain or if you have a toddler who can do with some running around in a padded and stimulating space, the best place to be in Rome is Explora children museum.
As well as the dedicated under 3s area, Explora also has some water games, an area where you can grow and pick wooden fruit and a children kitchen and supermarket to stimulate role play. On site there is a restaurant with child friendly meals and toddler friendly high chairs, making Explora an easy bet for child entertainment
What to pack for visiting Rome with a baby or a toddler
My essential to visit Rome with a baby are:
- Car seat
- Full diaper bag: diapers, changing mat, wipes, nappy bags, change of clothes, nappy cream etc Find a list of our favourite diaper bags for travel here (if you prefer a diaper backpack, look here instead)
- Sippy cup / bottle
- Blankets / covers /sleeping bag depending on the season
- Baby safe mosquito repellent (from May to September)
- Baby paracetamol or anti fever medication
- Small bottles of disinfecting hand gel, baby wash, and baby lotion
- Extra pacifiers (if your baby uses one)
- A few of your baby’s favorite toys
- Clothes, socks, and booties or shoes
- Washable bibs
- Sun hat / winter hat
- First-aid kit (check what we have in ours here)
- Sling or front carrier
- If your hotel doesn’t provide satisfactory baby cots, have a look at our favourite sleeping solutions for travel here (baby bassinettes and travel beds)
I hope you find this practical guide to Rome with a baby or young toddler useful. Safe family travels!
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