What are the most important things you should really know before taking a baby or young child to Dubai?
Our Editor Keri has been a UAE resident for over nine years and shares her on-the-ground insights into how best to prepare for your first trip to Dubai and the UAE if you are travelling with young children.
The first thing you should know outright is that it’s an INCREDIBLY family-friendly place to visit. There might be a few little (or large) differences to your home country to be aware of, especially if you have not visited a Muslim country before, but there is nothing that adventurous family travellers cannot tackle. We think Dubai makes a great introduction to visiting the Middle East region.
We’ll talk you through:
- Car seats, strollers and travel safety and getting around Dubai
- Pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care in Dubai
- Dining out with a baby and young kids in Dubai
- Dealing with sun safety and the heat
- Top baby-friendly activities in Dubai
- Where to stay with a baby in Dubai
- Emergency information and extra resources to plan your Dubai trip
Where exactly is Dubai? Don’t worry if you still can’t place it properly on a map or have no idea whether it’s a country of a city! We have a detailed guide to exactly WHAT IS DUBAI you should read here before you dig any further into your travel plans.
Traffic Safety in Dubai & Car Seats
I think this quite often this is one of the cities biggest concerns family visitors. Dubai is a big busy city with huge multi-lane freeways and cars move FAST! Driving is not as bad as some Middle East countries we have visited, but nonetheless, expect frequent braking at high speeds, sudden lane swaps without indicators and poor road manners – albeit ever-improving.
I would NEVER travel in Dubai without some sort of restraint for your child.
It is law in the UAE for all children under the age of 4 to use a car seat. That said, enforcement of the law seems to sadly be scant.
There are a few ways you can tackle the issue of keeping infants safe in car seats in Dubai:
- BYO car seat (recommended)
- If you are renting a car, add a car seat to your hire car order
- Use a car seat hire company such as Skytots or the Stroller Spa (they do rental strollers & car seats)
- Use family-centric hire car service such as Careem Kids instead of hailing a taxi
We understand that standard taxies from the airport are also able to borrow at no extra charge a pooled car seat from DXB to return later, though have not personally tried this service.
Is Dubai Stroller friendly?
Unless you are used to carrying your baby a lot, I would say yes bring a stroller. Make sure it’s a compact stroller for ease of getting in and out of taxies and public transport. Even just walking around the giant malls or along the beachfront promenades can involve quite a lot of walking.
There are way more surfaces around the city now that can handle stroller wheels. However, if you are visiting “Old Dubai” you may not find the streets are as suitable and a few high or non-existent footpaths to contend with.
Bear in mind if you prefer just to baby carry the impact of heat and sweat – more on the weather in Dubai and how that might affect baby below!
If you are just flying through or only making a really brief stop in Dubai, DXB airport does have courtesy strollers, though I wouldn’t absolutely guarantee their availability every time.
Using the Metro in Dubai with a baby
The Dubai Metro is a convenient way to get around town, but do remember it’s still a busy working city, not JUST there for the tourists! So if you travel at peak times of day the Metro will inevitably be very crowded.
You will want a stroller that is capable of collapsing in peak times. There are lifts at stations from ground level to platforms so it does make for a convenient way for families to get about some of the cities main attractions. Children under 5 are free and there are women and children only carriages available.
Taking a desert safari from Dubai
It is very popular to take a desert safari when you are visiting Dubai, but be very careful about what you are signing up for! Whilst families are welcome, some tours involve an element of “Dune Bashing” in 4WD’s to get you to your camp. Most companies restrict this to children of at least 4 to 5 years of age+, and no expectant mothers.
There is most likely an alternative option given where families can go directly to the camp for evening activities but check the fine print. We suggest if you book tours through a trusted app such as Get Your Guide, they give good details on what you can expect, any age or health restrictions and also include a good cancellation policy up to 24 hours in advance if you decide once you’re in the UAE it won’t be the right thing for you.
This is not to discourage you from heading out into the desert with your kids. Unless you have an exceptionally bad weather day where it is windy, kids love to get some sand in their toes and your toddlers and older kids are sure to remember their first camel ride!
I would only advise, like many things UAE don’t attempt this with a baby in the peak of summer, the heat and humidity even in the evenings are probably too much for a young child.
Pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care in Dubai
Breastfeeding in Dubai
Breastfeeding is encouraged for new mothers in the UAE. Coming from overseas though, you may find the Arab ladies are MUCH more discreet in how they go about it. If you are feeding out in public, it is courteous to use a breastfeeding cover and find yourself a discreet corner.
If you are not feeling comfortable and confident in a public place, breastfeeding mums are welcome to use the ladies prayer rooms, usually located adjacent to bathroom facilities in malls and public places. Within mall toilets, you may also find a mothers’ resting area where you can feed quietly.
Bottle feeding in Dubai
You will have no issue getting hold of baby formula, but you may not get the exact brand your baby is used to so suggest you bring your own supplies. Tap water is definitely drinkable after boiling, though I personally find it still leaves a slight chlorine taste so I prefer bottled water for myself and when feeding my children. You should have no problem using cooled boiled water and steriliser tablets to sterilise your bottles. Some resorts and hotels may even offer this service for you.
Changing tables in Dubai
One of Dubai’s big downfalls is the lack of baby change rooms accessible to all. You will find culturally this is still very much seen as a woman’s job and almost all change tables are located in the female bathrooms. Very occasionally you might find a family bathroom.
You should have no issue getting treated with courtesy and respect as an expectant mother. Note that if you are visiting during Ramadan, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are exempt from fasting. You are still advised to be discreet and conscious of those around you who may be fasting. You can learn more about Ramadan etiquette for visitors here.
Baby products in Dubai
If you find yourself needing any emergency supplies of clothing or equipment, you will find baby shops in all the large malls. Many online shops also deliver and have express services such as Mumzworld, the Baby Shop, Mothercare and Baby Souk.
I would suggest if your child fusses when not given the exact product that they are used to, you may want to bring these supplies with you. While supermarkets are plentiful, there’s no guarantee they will stock the exact brand you need.
Dining out with a baby and young kids in Dubai
Unless you are dining at the most high-end, trendy restaurants, you will have no trouble finding a restaurant that will allow you to dine with your child at the table, and provide you with a high chair. You can luck out that some restaurants are so busy they run out of highchairs, but it’s not a location I would suggest it’s essential to bring your own.
A lot of restaurants are attached either to the large shopping malls, or to hotels. Our top tip is to download the Entertainer App and purchase the Dubai product. It’s a small investment to make but has a HUGE number of 2-4-1 dining vouchers and other savings that will come in really handy during a Dubai trip.
And don’t worry about jet-lag either. You will find this is a very late night culture so it’s not unusual at all to see families out at midnight still enjoying dinner!
Dealing with sun safety and the heat
Just a quick recap on the weather in Dubai in case you’d not picked up on it before, it’s HOT!!!!
OK, it’s not stinking hot ALL the time, but for a good 6 months of the year temperatures are over 30c – hitting peaks up to 50c in mid-Summer. The winters comparatively are mild and pleasant and perfect for outdoor exploration.
From late November through to March you should have no issue. The shoulder seasons around October to November and April though to May can be too hot for peak day time activities but pleasant enough in the early mornings and evenings. From June through to September, only your most ardent heat lovers will find it pleasant outside.
So with this in mind and travelling with a baby, how can you best prepare for the Dubai weather?
- Drink lots of water. Bring your own water bottle with a filter is best for children & adults. Water is drinkable in Dubai but may not be to everyone’s taste.
- Small infants still on milk only or breastfeeding, do factor in if you’ve been outside you may need more regular feeds and if they are weaning, supplement with water too.
- Children over 6 months can wear a high protection sunscreen. Under 6 months infants should be kept in the shade completely.
- It is best to keep skin as covered as possible – both for modesty and sun protection – you can see more clothing advice for the UAE here.
Other things to note about the heat in Dubai
- For a lot of the year, the ground and play equipment might be too hot to touch during the day. Make sure you test any surface before letting a baby walk or crawl on it, beach/pool shoes can be a good idea for little feet too.
- Wearing a baby in a sling or carrier in a hot and humid climate can leave both you and the baby very sweaty. Look for carriers in breathable material to help, but avoid using for extended periods of time.
- Most hotel pools these days are temperature regulated to heat in the winter and cool in the summer. But the sea has no temperature control! Do expect it to be too cold to swim in the peak of winter and like spa water at the peak of summer.
- Because it’s so darn hot, everything is air-conditioned! You could theoretically spend your whole trip between taxi’s hotels and malls and not encounter much of the heat. But that also means it can be pretty chilly! Pack cardigans/sweaters and dress your baby in enough layers to cope with the fact you will be in the air conditioning so much.
What can I do in Dubai with a Baby?
OK, I know babies are pretty much along for the show with mum and dad so there is A LOT you can do travelling with a baby in Dubai!
Children under 3 are free to enter almost every major attraction. Some have a slightly lower limit if the attraction is specifically aimed at young kids.
Here are some of the top attractions that are more interactive for the younger crowd that are ready to start totting around and need more interaction.
- Dubai Frame – great city views and crawl across the glass floor to Zabeel Park, interactive displays as well
- Dubai Garden Glow – Zabeel Park comes to life with a Dinosaur Park & Glow Garden
- Dubai Miracle Garden – World’s largest flower garden. Also
nectdoor the Dubai Butterfly Garden
- Splash Pad – made for toddlers at The Beach JBR
- Aquaventure at Atlantis – includes a smaller kids area Splashers
- Legoland Waterpark – designed for the 2 to 12 crowd at Dubai Parks & Resorts
- OliOli – Interactive children’s museum
- Caboodle – one of the UAE’s leading indoor edutainment centres Dubai Mall
- Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo – in Dubai Mall
- The Green Planet – enter the biosphere at City Walk for mild temperatures year-round and a chance to meet sloths!
- XPark Jr – adventure playground for smaller kids, near Kite Beach
Where should I stay in Dubai with a baby?
If you have only the one child the great news is almost anywhere! Hotel rooms, on the whole, are large in Dubai and most hotels have no issue adding an extra baby cot – though do check the fine print on a case by case basis – some may charge more for this service.
A good area to stay if you like easy walks from the hotel is around JBR and Dubai Marina, you can be immediately on the beachfront here and there are excellent change facilities by the beach as well a playpark and splash pad (paid).
Any of the luxury resorts would be great though, and many come with babysitting services if you would like a night off too.
Emergency information in Dubai
If the worst is to happen and your baby gets sick on a holiday to Dubai, there are plenty of hospitals and medical clinics you can turn to for help.
Speciality 24-hour children’s hospitals in Dubai
The following hospitals have specialist paediatric A&E facilities.
- Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital
MedcareWomen & Children’s Hospital
- Zulekha Hospital (Sharjah – closer to Deira/Old Dubai)
There are plenty more options open during normal business hours. You will also find pharmacies everywhere, malls, even within some hotels so first aid supplies are easy to come by.
The Emergency services numbers for Dubai are:
- Police 999
- Ambulance 998
- Fire 997
- Civil Defence 996
- Coast guard 911
Other Dubai Resources
You may also like these posts about Dubai & the UAE to help you plan your trip
- Eco-tourism hotspots in the UAE
- How to get between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
- Dubai Facts to know before you visit
- How to road trip Dubai to Muscat
- Short break ideas from Dubai
- Dubai with a toddler
- Best indoor activities in Dubai
Do you have any more questions about visiting Dubai with a baby? Leave them in the comments we’d be happy to help or pop over to our Facebook Community Family Travel in the Middle East.