Though I have lived in Egypt since 2003 I never really looked at what was available for babies until last January when I travelled with my two year old grand-son, Jonny. Consequently most of my luggage was taken up with everything I thought I would need for him. When we travelled again in May, I was a wiser woman and my luggage was much lighter! I thought it would be a good idea to share what you can and cannot get easily everywhere in Egypt for a young baby or toddler.
YOU CAN FIND THE FOLLOWING EVERYWHERE –
when I say everywhere I do mean everywhere including outside most hotels – unless you are staying in an isolated or out-of-town resort, but you can easily get taxis to take you the supermarket and pharmacies, which are the places you will find these items:
Nappies – bringing more than you need for the first 24 hours really is a waste of space in your luggage. We tested one Egyptian brand, one Lebanese and, of course Pampers. The Egyptian ones were the cheapest, definitely cheaper than you will get at home, and they were excellent. the Lebanese were even better and Pampers were totally no good at all, had little or no soakage and were the most expensive.
Baby Wipes – very cheap and every bit as good as any I have used in Ireland.
Creams for preventing or healing nappy rash, and baby powder – you will find in the pharmacies
Sun Screen, Shampoo for both adult and baby – all pharmacies and some supermarkets
Jars of baby food, yogurts, plain biscuits, honey – supermarkets.
Even though Jonny was using a baby cup for drinking while in Ireland we took baby bottles to ensure he would be getting enough water. I did find it difficult to get juice concentrate thin enough to go through the bottle teats so we gave him a half teaspoon or more of honey in his baby bottles mixed with bottled water and he loved it. Jonny drank way more bottles of water than he would have needed in Ireland and they were usually the answer whenever he got cranky – I can safely say it would not have dawned on me that a toddler needed so much water though it might seem obvious now that I am saying this.
If you are staying in an area where you will be near the fruit and veg market and your baby would be in heaven if you bought a cheap liquidiser – around €20 (your hotel would tell you where to go for household stuff) – liquidising the fruit with yogurt would give it enough body to feed baby with a spoon – Jonny got his first experience using straws and absolutely loved the different fruits. His favourite fruits to eat were strawberries, grapes, pomegranate and the oranges which are sweeter than we normally have in Ireland.
Travel Cot – some hotels provide them but not many – you can buy a good one in Cairo or Luxor for around €40 – I am not sure about the Red Sea or other areas. If you didn’t want to take it home you could always donate it to a local charity for children or someone who is really nice to you in the hotel etc….
Blankets – you can buy really thick, soft, beautiful baby blankets – complete with disney characters for around €5 – excellent for making baby cosy in the plane on the way home.
Baby clothes and laundry. Most hotels have good laundry facilities with a 24 hour turnaround time – you can also easily buy baby clothes if you needed really cheaply – if you want to wash them yourself it would be a good idea to bring a travel clothes line for quick and easy drying – you will probably have a balcony in your hotel.
Familiar Food for toddlers can be a bit of a problem but you will get chips , bread, jam, peanut butter everywhere – and fruit/veg is in abundance most places.
Spare bottles – not all sizes of teats for baby bottles are available. Jonny threw one of his in the Nile on our May visit but would you believe that our friend, Captain Mahmoud was downstream from us in another boat and managed to rescue it for us!? No, we did not give it to Jonny after that until it was well sterilized with boiling water.
Lightweight Stroller instead of big buggy. I got a stroller in Argos for €20 before our January visit – it has since been used continuously in Ireland and survived a second trip to Egypt undamaged. The stroller is very handy for transfers between terminals in airports and much safer in the streets than having baby in arms (unless using a baby sling) or holding by the hand. A big buggy can be difficult to manage in small lifts, through traffic, up and down on pavements, on and off coaches or even using taxis.
Shoes – I think crocs are the best shoes for kids while in Egypt – they are comfortable with or without socks, lightweight and with a strong sole to protect tender feet over rough ground.
Toddler Walking Harness Egyptians do not like to see babies in walking harness or with the wrist safety lead. On our first trip into town using the wrist safety lead with Jonny we got too many bad looks – one man actually said in English ‘he is not a dog you know!’ After that it was the stroller every time we out in the streets. However, there are places where a walking harness is a very good idea for peace of mind – such as on a fellucca trip or a calesh ride if you have a toddler like Jonny who loves the water and every now and again decides he would like a swim in the Nile! While an argumentative toddler might slip from your hands or take advantage of that one second when you are not watching him……a walking harness can give the toddler freedom and at the same time keep him safe.
Having traveled alone with our little toddler I would now definitely prefer to travel as lightly as possible and buy what I need as much as possible in Egypt.