Canada has many family friendly attractions and toddlers will love to explore the amazing nature and wildlife
The country is very safe and has an excellent internal transportation system. You will be able to find all your baby and toddler essentials easily, especially in the cities. High chairs and travel cots are found in restaurants and hotels and you will also find loads of changing facilities in the cities along with stroller accessible transportation. There are also loads of family friendly accommodation options with most hotels offering cots on request.
When to Go
Canada has a mild to very cold climate, so travel in spring and summer is the most comfortable time with a baby or toddler unless you plan to ski or snowboard, in which case you’ll need to go in winter or early spring. For details on annual temperatures, click here.
Canada occupies most of the northern region of North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward to the Arctic Ocean. Canada shares its borders with the US to the south and the US state of Alaska to the northwest. Most international visitors opt to fly into either Toronto Pearson International Airport or Vancouver International Airport.
Vancouver Airport is about 15km from the city centre and Toronto Airport is 32km from the centre. Shuttle buses run between terminals and between the airport and airport/city hotels at both Vancouver and Toronto airports. Limos, taxis and car rental are also available and you can pre book a taxi with a car seat from a number of companies.
Note: Parents travelling to Canada with a child under 18 years old are strongly advised to hold documentation showing that the child is theirs. Parents who are separated or divorced are also advised to keep legal and other relevant documents in order to clarify custody rights.
Canada is easy to get around in with a relatively reliable public transport system. The bus network is quite extensive and generally cheaper than the train service however, travelling by train is a great option, particularly with toddlers and the train service is recognised as being one of the best in the world.
Hiring a car is also a good option and remember to pre book a car seat if you are not bringing your own. Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road, and you’ll need an International driver’s license. For very long distances, air travel is easier with a baby or toddler and internal flights with budget carriers like Can Jet and Westjet are quite reasonable.
Baby & Toddler Essentials
Breastfeeding publicly in Canada is perfectly acceptable and is legally protected.
Tap water is treated and safe to drink in all but the most remote places. The water may be treated differently to what your child is used to and could cause a tummy upset so use bottled water with a low sodium and mineral content if you are travelling with an infant.
Powdered Formula & Cow’s Milk
You will be able to find a wide variety of formulas in Canada in supermarkets and local stores. The most commonly found brands include Good Start (produced by nestle), Enfamil & Similac. Fresh cows milk is also widely available. Depending on the region you are visiting brands and supermarket chains will vary although almost every large town or city will have a Walmart.
There are a wide variety of baby foods available in Canada. Baby gourmet is a canadian brand of organic baby food which comes in a variety of flavours and Heinz is also widely available. You will also be able to find a good selection of yoghurts, purees, fresh fruit and vegetables and cereals along with snacks for babies and toddlers.
Nappies & Other Essentials
You will be able to find Huggies, Pampers and Parents Choice nappies in Walmart Canada and in other stores throughout the country.
Canada has a diverse array of eateries suited to every kind of family. There is an abundance of family friendly restaurants with high chairs, changing facilities and kids meals. Most restaurants will be willing to heat milk or baby food for you.
Both the colonial and American influence is strong with excellent European and American style restaurants are available all over the country. The French influence in Quebec is easily discernible in the cuisine and an experience in a fine dining, or simple, bistro-style Gallic restaurant makes for a very Parisian style experience.
Canada’s vast coastline and clean and cold-water rivers produce some excellent fish and seafood. Canada’s central plains provide high-quality beef and agricultural produce. More unusual produce includes bison, elk and caribou. Canada also produces good wines and cheeses.
Health & Wellbeing
Pharmacies & Hospitals
Canada has an excellent health care system and the medical care is excellent. You will be able to buy paracetamol and ibuprofen based products for your child in pharmacies (over the counter). Make sure you bring a first aid kit and take out travel insurance for each member of your family before you go.
Warm clothes are essential for Canada, particularly in winter when the temperatures can drop below freezing. A hat and sunglasses are important when outdoors at any time of year as is a buggy shade or parasol. The sun can be strong in winter and summers so bring sun protection for your child if you will be outdoors at any time of year. If you’ll be visiting the snowfields in winter, warm, layered clothing is a must.
No vaccinations are needed to enter Canada.
Where to go
Ontario offers much in the way of family fun. Canada’s largest city, Toronto is a bustling, sophisticated city. It’s fun and fashionable with abundant markets, boutique shops and restaurants and lies a short distance away from one of the world’s great natural wonders, Niagara Falls.
French speaking Quebec offers plenty of outdoor action, sports and recreation and great city breaks. Montréal, Québec City and Gatineau are all nicely situated alongside great waterways, each are quite unique in their own right. Québec offers an exciting cultural scene, top-notch hotels and gourmet offerings that reflect the very best culinary traditions. Montreal is another great option with its Colonial mansions and gothic churches.
In Alberta, you can view prairie vistas, rolling foothills, majestic mountains, and countless lakes which offer loads of possibilities for outdoor activities. Immerse yourself in the wonders of the prehistoric world in Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Alberta’s largest city, Calgary offers western hospitality in cosmopolitan style. The region also has some of the best skiing on the planet is less than 2 hours from an international airport.
Nova Scotia is an incredible destination with its mix of dramatic seas, scenic lands, Celtic music and friendly, welcoming people. The province’s capital is the seaport of Halifax and other towns worth visiting include Lunenburg where you can see the home of the world-famous Bluenose II. At the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, kids can get up close and personal with slimy sea creatures at the unique touch tank. You can also go whale watching off of Cape Breton Island and discover dinosaurs at the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro. Another great option is the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park where you can explore nature in this 40-hectare park with its fantastic interactive displays.
British Columbia offers amazing diversity and a temperate climate with mountainous scenery, historical sights and endless beaches to comb. It also offers a host of cosmopolitan cities to explore such as Vancouver. Vancouver has some great attractions for little ones including the Maritime and the Science museums as well as the fantastic Grouse Mountain Skyride or the cliff walk and crossing the Capilano River over the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The CN Tower and the Roger’s Center in Vancouver are great attractions in this city which lies on the shores of Lake Ontario. Despite its damp, misty weather, this city is very laidback and absolutely packed with attractions that will keep the whole family entertained.
If skiing and boarding are more your speed, the beautiful resorts of Whistler, Banff and Fernie can offer a family snow holiday at affordable prices.
Canada’s capital is Ottawa, a pleasant but not very exciting town on the southern bank of the Ottawa River on Canada’s eastern tip. While it’s not necessarily on every tourist’s must-see list, it does have its fair share of impressive buildings and museums, and is a good base for sightseeing, fishing and rafting trips on the scenic Ottawa River.