Baby and Toddler Essentials in Germany; Food, Formula and Nappies
Breastfeeding in public is perfectly acceptable in Germany and is widely promoted.
You will be able to find Aptamil and Hipp Organic formula in most supermarkets and large pharmacies. Rossmann is a large chain of pharmacies located throughout Germany and is the equivalent to Boots Chemists.
Rossmann stocks formula, food, nappies, wipes, sterilizing equipment and other baby essentials. You can also find pampers in most supermarkets and pharmacies throughout the country. The baby food selection is excellent; for example , Heinz is widely available and you will find kids menus in most restaurants. Supermarkets and pharmacies also stock snacks, puree, yoghurts and cereals for babies and toddlers.
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If travelling from the UK and Ireland you should ensure that you and each family member travelling has either the European Health Insurance Card or private health insurance. Irish residents can apply for the card at http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/EHIC/ and UK residents can apply at www.gov.uk . This card allows you to get health care covered by the public health system in Germany. If you have previously applied for a card make sure that it is in date before you travel. Travel insurance should be taken out if you are covered by private healthcare however check your policy as it may offer you some cover while overseas. The European Emergency number is 112 where you will get English speaking operators who can direct your call to the appropriate emergency response services.
Most pharmacists speak English well and if your child is unwell they may be able to direct you to a doctor or hospital.
Contact your consular service or embassy if you have been a victim of crime, arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, if you or anyone in your family has a serious illness, experience the unexpected death of a partner or spouse and for help with repatriation after a crisis. Consular offices also provide help in the case of a lost or stolen passport.
Strollers and Slings
Ideally, you should bring both a stroller and a sling/ baby carrier with you. You might want to bring a smaller fold up stroller for older children however it is very handy in the evenings if your baby can sleep in a stroller when you eat out, so make sure whatever you bring is comfortable. When in larger cities, a backpack stroller can be very useful if you are using the metro and other forms of public transport a lot. Remember to bring a sun shade or a parasol and blackout covers are fantastic if you will be out and about a lot as they allow your child to sleep easily. For information on slings and strollers click here.
You should bring a grow bag if your baby or toddler is used to them. Some children sleeping with blankets for the first time wriggle around at night and may get cold. The cots offered by 4 and 5 star hotels are usually good quality travel cots with sheets and a baby duvet or blanket on them. Make sure to check first to see if a hotel has a crib before booking (most online booking sites will say whether cots are available). When hotel staff set up a travel cot make sure that it is done correctly as if it is not it could buckle when you put your child in. Also, check the crib is generally clean and safe by moving it around a bit and if it is not right ask for another. For Tips on sleeping soundly abroad click here.
There are mosquitos during the summer in Germany although there have been no reports of malaria. Click here for further information on insect protection and how to deal with bites.
Germany can be get quite hot during the summer months so make sure to protect your baby from overheating and bring light loose clothing. For further information on taking babies and toddlers swimming click here. For more information on protecting your baby from the sun click here.
Public transport provides discounts for children under 16, while the under-4s travel free of charge.
Buses and Street Cars – Nearly every town and many rural areas have local bus services and many cities also offer a tourist hop on hop off bus service. These buses are a great option for seeing the sights and are generally stroller accessible. Where local rail service is offered, buses compliment those services. In Berlin, you’ll even find double-decker buses which are stroller accessible. Most medium and large cities also have a stroller accessible streetcar (tram) system, sometimes fairly extensive. Trams are especially prevalent in many eastern German cities. Trams usually arrive every 20-30 minutes during off-peak periods and are more regular during busier times.
Some cities, most notably Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hannover, Cologne, and cities in the Ruhr region, have relatively new light rail systems known as a Stadtbahn. Generally, these systems function very much like a regular U-Bahn system (subway, see below) and mostly run overground outside of the central city.
Subways & Commuter Trains
Germany’s largest cities have a subway system, or U-Bahn. For the most part, these systems are located underground, but may run on elevated tracks or at ground level, especially in outlying areas. Most U-Bahn stations in the larger cities are stroller accessible however you may need to contend with stairs in some stations.
Driving in Germany
To rent a vehicle, you will need your driver’s license and passport. Remember to pre-book a car seat if you are not bringing one and inspect it for damage before setting off. All major car rental companies can provide child seats on request for around €5 a day. Please click here for German car seat rules. Germans drive on the right. In most German cities, there is a good selection of parking facilities including on-street parking as well as off-street parking lots (Parkplatz), above-ground garages (Parkhaus), and underground garages (Tiefgarage). Most large cities have extensive parking facilities, and parking maps are usually available from the tourist information offices. Except on the busiest days and during the peak times, you should be able to find a place within a reasonable amount of time. Costs for parking in Germany are a little expensive so bear this in mind if you are renting a car and check with your hotel in advance as to whether there are parking facilities on site. Gasoline (Benzin) and diesel (Diesel) are readily available throughout Germany, although filling stations (Tankstellen). You should have little problem finding a place to fill your tank when you need to. Most small towns have at least one station, and there are 24-hour stations located at intervals along the Autobahn and major highways. Parking on the street is the most common means of parking in Germany. Unless specifically prohibited by a sign or general regulation, on-street parking is usually permitted everywhere that you see a ‘P’ sign on the side of the road.
German taxis are cream-colored with a black and yellow taxi sign on the roof. You will be able to request a taxi with a car seat from your hotel or book one from most taxi companies. Taxis are exempt from EU rules covering car seats and you may opt to carry your child on your lap. This is highly dangerous in case of an accident and it is always safer to hire a cab with a car seat if possible.
There are 35 or so commercial passenger airports (Flughafen) in Germany, with Frankfurt and Munich being the two biggest. There are regular flights between Germany’s major cities and budget airlines such as German Wings make this a relatively cheap option for getting around the country.
Trains in Germany are generally very punctual. While you may not be able set your watch by the trains anymore, the DB reports that 90% of trains arrive within five minutes of schedule. Group rail tickets provide good value so keep this in mind when travelling with a family.
Taxis in Germany will have a seat belt in the back if you plan to bring your own car seat however this may be cumbersome and you can also arrange to hire a taxi with a car seat if you will only be using a taxi for airport transfers (See getting around). For a guide to German car seat laws click here and for further information on keeping your child safe while travelling, click here.
Using Hotel Babysitting Services
Using a babysitter abroad is not be for everyone but it is your decision. Most good hotels in Germany will offer babysitting services with experienced babysitters. For information on using babysitting services when abroad and a checklist of questions to ask a babysitter click here.