For those of you who are parents longing to visit Italy with your young ones, I hope that this particular section ‘Italy With Kids’ will give you the encouragement to stop worrying and give you the confidence to visit a beautiful land with your children. It should not be as daunting as you think.
First and foremost, one thing that struck me on arrival in Italy is you get the feeling Italian people adore children. And it’s true. In shops or in queues, the locals will smile or make nice comments about them. They’ll also chatter to babies in prams or pushchairs as if it’s their own offspring, whether they can be understood or not!
Here is a rather reassuring comment I have received from a mum: “People here absolutely love and worship babies and talk to them
and you all the time. They don't mind if a baby makes a noise in a public place for example, a church or theatre. In fact if the baby's upset, they want to know what's the matter and help you. Quite often she kicks off when I'm in the supermarket and I get other women offering to help unpack my trolley and pack my bags, that sort of thing.”
In fact here in Italy, you can basically take your children just about anywhere (within reason of course). Children seem never to be excluded and attend many different functions, even late at night with their families. Baby-changing facilities incorporated within the women’s washroom/toilet area are available at Italian airports, and in general, parents will discover that all the necessary amenities needed will be found in the larger cities and if not in villages and towns, then certainly won’t be far away. For example, there are various commercial centres/shopping centres/malls with warm, clean toilet areas including baby-changing facilities. A lot of small towns and villages do not have public toilets, and if they do, seldom have changing facilities, just a loo and a sink. To be honest, most modern parents carry a changing bag that includes a little foldaway mat, and if you do not have a vehicle in which you can change the baby’s nappy, then why not ask at a bar for example – “Mi scusi, c’e un posto dove posso cambiare un pannolino?” (Excuse me, is there a place where I can change a nappy?) I’m sure you will be assisted.
With regards to nappies and baby food, these products are readily available in most small towns and villages from small
supermarkets, but the best option for choice and cost is if you head to one of the many larger supermarkets usually situated not that far away. You will be pleased to find that in Italy too, the supermarkets compete with one and another over prices, so often there are selected ‘special offers’ which is great for keeping expenditure down. As well as the Italian brands there are also the well-known brands for example, nappies; the Huggies and Pampers range, and the well-known baby milk formula for example is Milupa Aptamil covering birth to 36 months.
A wide choice of jar baby food is available, with perhaps (to some maybe) a strange array of flavours to pick such as Ostrich, veal, rabbit, and horse, as well as the usual tastes expected of beef, poultry, fish, vegetable etc., together with fruit and pudding flavours. Of course there is a full range of other baby and toddler products like wet wipes, pacifiers, pottys, feeding bottles, bibs and the list goes on, so you needn’t have a problem in finding what you require. Breast-feeding is socially acceptable here in Italy, unlike some countries you may visit. Here you do not need to feel you should hide away to feed your baby for the fear of upsetting someone. I have spoken to mums, and the general opinion is they’ve felt comfortable whilst breast-feeding in public areas. Should you feel unsure on a particular occasion, a friend says she drapes a scarf or shawl around them both to be a little more discreet. It’s really good to hear also that the bars and restaurants will happily warm up bottles of milk, water or jars of pureed food. High chair availability inside restaurants appears to be good. However, some have a type of high chair which is wooden and without the centre piece which would stop your baby sliding out! A friend said she’d used her partner’s trouser belt to loop into place for the centre piece, which fixed the problem. Obviously if your child is a toddler, then you’ll be able to judge if your partner’s belt is required!
The safety regulations for babies and children travelling in cars seem to be a little sketchy. It is required, but not
understood by all as you’ll probably notice, for young ones under 3 to be travelling in the car with the correct child seat, and children travelling between the ages of 4 and 12 must have the correct seating or seat belt adaptor. I’m told that many people are not aware that the passenger airbag must be disengaged if a young child is travelling in the front. If in doubt, check with your car hire company. Most, if not all, car hire companies have a range of child seat and booster seats available for hire when you collect your car, and you may be fortunate to catch some special offers. It is advisable to check on availability of your requirements and reserve the appropriate seating on booking. Of course, you can take your own seats with you.
Let's conclude with a list of useful nouns and their equivalent in English and Italian:
Baby (USA/UK), Bambino (male) Bambina (female) (IT)
Diaper (USA), Nappy (UK) Pannolino (IT)
Wet wipes, (USA/UK/IT)
Potty (USA/UK), Vasino (IT)
Baby Carriage (USA), Pram (UK), Carrozzina (IT) Stroller (USA), Push-chair (UK), Passeggino (IT)
Crib (USA), Cot (UK), Lettino, Culla (IT)
Pacifier(USA), Dummy (UK) Succhiotto (IT)
High chair (USA/UK) Seggiolone (IT)
Car Seat (USA/UK/IT)