Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tricks Are For Kids...

So, travelling abroad with a young 'un? I had read before that you can't find diapers in France. This is much like the time I went to Germany with the Mom and Dad and we packed with us juice boxes and chocolate milk in a box because the Mom was convinced we wouldn't be able to get normal drinks in Europe (what, it had been 20 years since she had been there!) Diapers (and not just diapers, but pampers) were available at almost every pharmacy (of which there are possibly even more than the ubiquitous Duane Reades) and at the grocery store and Monoprix. Mind you, they weren't cheap by any means, but they were available and in sizes 4 and larger.

Formula? Formula and baby food is a somewhat different story. I had packed a case of RTF Similacs plus a few extra and a small can of powdered Similac. Towards the end of the trip I was concerned that we might start to run out so we ventured to the Champion to see what they had. No enfamil, no Similac but they did have formula looking things made by both Nestle and Bledina. The formula all seemed to be rated for various age ranges and even had chocolate flavored versions (which seemed a little odd, kind of like Quik milk for babies). In the baby food department in typical European fashion there were quite a few sophisticated options. I picked up for Miss B. some risotto con legumes which actually turned out to be some sort of pureed risotto with zucchini and tomato. Bledina also had a line of "Bledichef" meals which included veal (!) I will say there wasn't a very big selection of baby food and there was certainly no equivalent to the "Graduates" snack food line that's so prevalent here in the US. It seemed to me that the French have a very different approach to solid food-- I think mostly deciding to move into serving table food much sooner than we do, and with the food that they've got, why not?

In other news for moms and dads, changing facilities? Ha! There was one baby changing station that I found in all of Paris. Bring your skip hop changing pad, cross your fingers and pray is all I can advise.

Other than that Paris is pretty kid friendly. There are tons of parks with great playground options for kids of all ages-- we did witness real live pony rides in the Luxembourg Gardens and there are babies and kids in strollers everywhere. That being said, I would not recommend the ye old stroller on the subway as it appears that there is certainly no push to make the Metro accessible. Clearly the French have no equivalent to the ADA because elevators are few and far between, but steps? They've got steps like they're giving them away. Sure, the fold up stroller would be great if one was carrying said baby, but you'll tend to find that naps often coincide with whenever you want to go on the Metro so carrying the stroller becomes a two man job going down steps and a Dad-lift-the-14-pound-stroller-plus-23-pound-baby job on the way up. Upside? The workout certainly makes you feel less guilty about all the pastry.

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