Sanity saving tips for doing London with a toddler or baby
Earlier this year we made our first family trip to London. As anyone travelling with toddlers or babies will relate to, it was both a wonderful and testing experience. Alongside every iconic sight seen there was an avoidable tantrum involving either our then 11-month-old, our three-year-old or me. It was shattering.
We picked up a lot of tips that week for visiting big cities with kids and have already been able to use them to make subsequent city breaks much more harmonious. If you’re planning to visit London with a toddler or baby or both, here are our top tips.
Top tips for visiting London with a toddler or baby
Bring food, and lots of it
It’s easy for meal times to sneak up on you when you’re caught up in sightseeing or queues for attractions. Avoid toddler and baby meltdowns by packing plentiful of snacks to dish out during your day. We were waiting to get on the London Eye when it was suddenly time for lunch one day. Luckily we had a some wraps for the girls. Another day we were caught short and it caused all kinds of stress.
Take the train
We were staying in Crystal Palace – a half hour train ride or a 45 minute bus trip from the city centre (up to an hour and a half in traffic). If you’re using public transport the bus can be fun but we found it was less comfortable for getting into the city than the train, especially with a baby and pushchair. However, once you are in the city check out your route as it might be easier to hop on the bus for a short ride than carry children and pushchairs up and down tube station steps.
Stay somewhere central
Staying outside the city centre seemed like a good idea in advance. It was definitely the cheaper option. However, if you intend to see the big sights, a hotel in the city will work out easier than staying on the outskirts and commuting in every day. We spent half of our time going to and from Crystal Palace, which threw out of timings for feeds and sleeps.
Don’t expect to see all the sights in a day
Pace yourself. It always takes longer than you think to navigate a city, especially when you need to factor in feeds, nappy changes and naps. We tried to squeeze more than one thing into the day on a couple of occasions. Bad idea! This resulted in us not having enough time to appreciate the sights or get the girls back to where we were staying in time for bed. Cue more meltdowns.
Using a baby or toddler carrier will help you navigate London’s busy streets and attractions easier than a pushchair. I lost count of the number times we (I mean Mr Tin Box) had to pick up our buggy and carry it up steps to cross bridges or get to the tube platform. There are lifts around but at peak times there will be a queue of parents and other passengers waiting to use them.
Seek out free attractions
Visiting London is expensive, even if your children haven’t reached the age where they ask for something every time you walk through the gift shop. As well as a couple of treats, like visiting the London Eye and Cutty Sark, we also went to the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the parks. There’s plenty to entertain kids of all ages, as well as fulfil your lust to see the best of the capital. If you’d like more recommendations for free attractions in London The Trusted Traveller has written about 30 places you should visit.
What are your top tips for visiting London with a toddler or baby? I’d love to top up my tip list for our next city break.
More family travel inspiration
There’s plenty more family travel tips and inspiration on Tin Box Traveller. Why not check out: the travel stroller that we rate best; our top recommendations for luxury holidays with kids and a dog; or family days out we’ve tried in the UK and beyond.
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