It was the biggest challenge to go perform Umrah with my toddler son (Ayaan who was 17 months old then). Needless to mention that he started walking on his own by then. He started eating solids too but also was relying so much on milk too needless to say he is a picky eater. This term means a whole new thing at my home. Normally the picky eaters love eating out. They love candies, sweets, cakes, juices, biscuits but Ayaan eats none of it. He likes eating chapati and salan. So I had to plan a whole lot of everything here because a hungry and hyperactive toddler is not a good combination to travel with.
We started planning for it. Discussed with friends who had already been there. Saw many YouTube videos, read a lot of stuff over the internet not only about ‘how-to’ do it but also about ‘what-to-pack, what -to expect. And searching about the weather and analyzing about the rush hours in Haram. Etc
We searched, packed and prepared well for our 12 days trip to Mecca and Madina. But even after so many searches and planning we had to have surprises and nothing there taught me what to do exactly to prepare for an Umrah trip with a toddler . So here I am writing this post using my experience to help minimize surprises for you and to make your trip comfortable, smooth and well planned.
To make sense of what is coming your way through Umrah blog posts. I am going to divide it in 3 parts, so three blog posts are coming your way divided as below.
1)- What to pack
Your essentials for Umrah
Baby essentials for Umrah
Do and don’ts – while on this Journey
2)-Visiting Riaz ul Jannah – how to prepare what to expect
3)- After Umrah stay in Makkah- what to expect and how to manage
Let’s talk about the first one in our list, shall we?
Part 1… What to pack – Absolute essentials for Umrah travel
Here is some absolutely necessary stuff you need to pack if you are traveling for Umrah with a toddler
Baby essentials for Umrah travel
1- Travel kettle
2- a microwave safe bowl ( to wash and dry feeder, cup, and bowl)
3- travel spoon, sippy cup, and bowl for babies to eat
4- dishwashing liquid and feeder cleaning brush
5- Towels (More, the better, I never use hotel towels for my son, neither should you).
6- Small cotton sheets ( I used them to cover the vehicle seat during our travel from Madina to Makkah and also used to cover the floor or carpet in Masjid, for Ayaan to sleep on)
7- Baby soap and shampoo ( we went in summer. So a lot of sweating resulting in a regular need to take bath)
8- Baby travel pillow (small and lightweight)
9- Baby Vests- With all the clothes you pack for your little one don’t forget to pack vests. As ACs make the rooms real cold sometimes. So it’s better that your baby’s chest is covered with an extra layer of clothing. Trust me both of you shall sleep peacefully
10- Travel stroller (its a must!!!! )
11- Small jay-e-Namaz (prayer mat). If your baby can sit still (without being distracted) for more than 5 minutes (Ayaan does not, ever!) or he is trained to sit, watch and imitate you. It’s the best way, best place and best time to let him see masses performing salah (Namaz) and copy.
12- Medical kit- it should include Baby thermometer, cough and cold syrup, fever reducer, baby moisturizer and any other thing that you think might help you in case of any medical situation
13- baby nail cutter and comb – I forgot to carry these. Must keep nail cutter if you are going for more than a week
14- A baby strap- it is to tie with your baby on one side and to yourself on the other side. So that when you are offering prayers, he does not roam around. It shall help you offer prayers peacefully.
General Tips for Umrah with Toddlers
Tip #1 you can make your baby sit in the stroller with his favorite toys or book (whatever does not bore him) and tie him nicely with the stroller belt. This will help you pray peacefully while he is. I only put and not running around. But sometimes you can not possibly take the stroller with you. Especially when inside the mosque, strollers are not allowed. Neither in Masjid e Nabvi (S.A.W) nor in Haram. That time the straps shall help you and you can easily pray after tieing your baby with yourself through a strap. I have seen many women do this and this struck as the most practical idea to me. I did not take starp with me and I regretted it so much.
Although, you can limit the use of the strap by offering your prayers in the open air outside the Masjid’s covered area. That open-air is inside the boundary of the mosque and is, by all means, part of the mosque. However, when performing Umrah, you will definitely be inside Haram and strap shall be saving you from the extra trouble and shall help you manage your baby.
Tip # 2- While in Haram in Makkah, there is a place where you can safely keep your stroller and any extra things you are carrying (Of course not any valuables like mobiles ). People mostly place their strollers there. I saw many strollers and baby bags there tied together with a lock and strollers had the wheel locks too. But we did not have any lock and placed our stroller there anyway. It remained safe and was not stolen. However, you can minimise the risk and choose to take a wheel lock with you to safeguard.For the exact location of the place, you can ask any Shurta (Police guard) in Haram. They are generally very helpful people.
Your essentials for Umrah
- Umrah book – so that you know what you are going to do and nothing comes as a surprise and you miss nothing
- Printed masnoon duaein – although you can make duas all that you want and in whatever words you want. But I have learned this by experience that it’s better to keep with you the duas that Our Prophet (PBUH) used to make. So that you miss nothing and pray for a beautiful mix of Dunya and Akhira both. You can search for duas online and get the prints in your hands
- Abayas with head caps and scarfs – buy according to the season. I bought light textured easy to wear abayas and light colored scarf of very soft texture. I knew it was going to be hot in April. So keep weather in mind while shopping for this stuff. Keep some safety pins/ scarf pins to tie up your hijab. If you not use scarf in daily life see hijab tutorials on YouTube to learn how to wear them like a pro.
- clothes – I got my old, super soft clothes and PJs all washed and ironed. Ironing saved space in my suitcase and it was very easy to find whatever I want from the suitcase later. Because one big thing about Umrah is Time -management. You get very little time to do a lot of things let alone managing a baby too. So pack all tidy and neat.
- Medicines – my medicine box had a painkiller, fever reducer, voltraline (muscle pain reliever ) and cough syrup
- Backpack – a must!!!!
- water bottle – should be very easy to carry in your backpack
- Travel prayer mat with its bag to carry it around
- A scissor – to cut your strand of hair after Umrah
- shampoo and conditioner – trust me you would like to wash your hair every other day because of sweating. So it’s better to carry your regular shampoo and conditioner with you in travel in small travel bottles (or may be getting small packaged bottles , whatever suits you).
- Travel Quran– Though You can find Quran almost everywhere in haram and Masjid e Nabvi both. However, if you are to keep a mark of your reading it’s good to have Quraan with you. Also during Your visit to other mosques keeping a Quraan with you can help you save time. As in rush ( Every Ziarah place in Makkah and Madinah is always risky) So, you would like to sit wherever you find space. Further mostly you will not be able move around so much while you have a baby with you. I personally did not bring one with me but now I think it would have been so helpful if I would have carried one
- umbrella – well guys it’s a must-have, shift it upwards in your priority list. It is one of the best things which make umrah with toddler super safe and easy. No need to worry about sun-tan.
- Plastic bags – keep some properly folded with you in your backpack. Will help you keep food or its trash later and your shoes. No matter if you decide to put away your shoes in a designated space or you decide to carry in your bag pack with you, plastic bags shall help enormously. I kept shoes with me because I never came out of the same gate I got into form. Because there were so many gates for the mosques and difficult to keep track of them for at least initial couple of day.
- Food – some ready to eat food like biscuits, dates, juices, Chips, dry fruit, fruitcakes. basically whatever can give you instant energy (Don’t pack them from home. But keep them in your backpack with you before you leave the hotel in Sacred cities). You cannot imagine to perform umrah with kids, especially when you have no food in hand.
- hand towels – among many obvious uses it shall help you keep your head cool (like literally) put a wet towel on your head during tawaf. It’s a must if you are performing Umrah in the daytime and under direct sunlight.
- shoes– Those which are easy to put on and put off, are waterproof and not slippery. I got myself 2 pairs, one slipper for regular use and second sandals for when I had to walk for long. Choose accordingly.
- Mobile power bank– It is optional but can add to your mental peace while traveling
- Hand sanitizer – Before offering food to your baby , use this. You shall not always be able to wash your hands with water and soap.
My Tip for You Guys – Pack your backpack carefully before you leave the hotel. Not every hotel is near to Haram and Masjid e Nabvi. Save yourself the trouble. Keep all that you absolutely need and also those you might need. Don’t leave things to chance. Medicines, food, baby things, scissors, plastic bags, water, juice, hand sanitizer, baby spare clothes, hand towel. etc Think well beforehand. Always prepare your backpack daily at night. There is always very little time you get for preparation before Fajar Prayer
Do and don’t of Umrah with kids
Here is a list of some things which you should do or should avoid while during Umrah, just to make your experience unforgettable. Now check what you need to do and absolutely ‘not-to-do’ when performing umrah babies and toddlers
Don’t perform in sunlight with baby
Don’t plan on performing Umrah in sunlight with your baby. They can dehydrate quickly and can also get sunstroke. If you absolutely have to perform Umrah in noon then get a wheelchair, put your baby in it, place umbrella on it. Do tawaf on outer circles of the Mataaf (Area around Kaaba)so as to avoid the rush and suffocation. Also, try to put a wet towel on your baby’s head and pray to Allah that He makes it easy on you and your baby.
Don’t wear a loose scarf
Don’t wear a long and loose scarf. In case of long scarf (or dopatta ) you need to pin it properly because in rush during tawaaf it can be pulled and injure you (I saw it happen with a woman in loose dopatta.itwas pulled and must have caused her rashes on the neck, to say the least )
Don’t use cold Zamzam for your baby
Everywhere in Haram and Masjid e Nabvi (SAW) two tanks of Zamzam are placed together. One is tagged ‘cold’ and other ‘not cold’ . Always fill your baby’s sippy cup \feeder from ‘not cold’ Zamzam tank.
Work as a team with your husband
If one is holding the baby, another one can read the Arabic duaen a bit loud during Tawaf. And after Umrah, if you want to do the Tawaf, one can go and other can babysit. This way your baby will not feel excessively tired. This means fewer chances to fall ill and more chances for your family to stay happy in this sacred journey of your lives.
Keep your water bottle and baby sippy cup full with Zamzam
Always Keep yourself and your baby hydrated in summer especially.
Yes, that’s very very important. You need to offer water, juices, glucose regularly.
Keep an eye on your baby
While you perform a duty towards Allah SWT, remember to keep an eye on your baby. If you see any signs that he might be a little suffocated, place him higher than your heads so that he gets to breathe easily
Tip#1 – If your baby falls asleep inside Haram and prayer time arrives, you will not possibly be able to go out to get your stroller. Make him lie down on cotton cloth and pillow that you have in your backpack. Place him carefully on your side. Try to choose a place near a wall to pray. So that wall covers the baby from one side and you cover him from the other side.
Tip#2- In Masjid-il-haram, there are open areas outside the main covered area . They are called ‘sehen’. In these open air areas there are designated places for women and men for namaz. Also designated places for mothers with strollers. So try to be there before time. Otherwise you will lose a lot of time in finding a designated area for mothers with strollers as everywhere is so rushy and full near prayer times in Haram.
Wrap Up of Part 1
That is all from my side on this topic. What do you think about it? Have you got something to add to the list? If yes, please add in the comments and let’s talk about them too. In my next blog posts, I will post about Riaz ul Jannah. Which is very important and sacred part to visit in Masjid e Nabvi in Madina. I am sure it shall help you a lot, Inshallah. I will not make you wait too long for that. See you guys soon with that post.
As the Umrah season has started, therefore I created this post to help all those family people who are planning to perform umrah with babies and toddlers (one years old and Above). I have shared my part 1 above and Working on its second part. Meanwhile, you can share your opinion about my post. I am always ready to answer your questions.
Footnote # 1: for convenience baby/toddler is mentioned as ‘He’.
Footnote#2: Although this post has been written with main focus for babies over 1 year of age however this is equally helpful to those travelling with babies under one year of age just ignore the baby walking and eating tips in that case. Because babies under one year of age do-not usually walk or eat much solids .