Amsterdam with Toddlers

cherry blossom amsterdam 2024

If you’re traveling to Amsterdam with toddlers and are worried about exploring a new city with little ones and their not-so-little luggage (and bladders), or you’re worried about Amsterdam’s “adult” reputation, rest assured that Amsterdam is one of the top kid friendly cities in Europe.

Here’s why: (Plus my tips for making the best out of your family trip!)

Stroller Accessible Public Transportation

After living in Amsterdam for nearly six months, when we visited Paris for the weekend, I was absolutely shocked at how difficult it was to get our little umbrella stroller up and down all the stairs in the metro stations. We were exhausted before we even got our on first train after leaving the Airbnb.

Amsterdam is a different story.

Amsterdam’s public transport is extremely stroller accessible. Bus and trolly stops are clearly marked with a shelter, there are crosswalks leading to it, and they have clearly marked, larger handicapped (and stroller) accessible doors.

You will be able to easily hop on and off public transportation with your stroller without breaking a sweat. The busses, trams, and metros are extremely clean, and people are friendly.

Note: If you are booking an Airbnb with a traditional Dutch staircase, a larger stroller may be tough to bring up the stairs. I sold my big stroller and bought an umbrella stroller just because of how difficult it was to get up and down the stairs with my toddler and big stroller in tow. (I got stuck.)

verjaardag fotograaf

The “Free Bathroom Pass”

Every potty trained parent knows that your toddler absolutely does not have to use the bathroom until the second they have to go. And then you have exactly 20 seconds to find a bathroom before they have an accident.

I’ve always heard that it’s hard to find a free bathroom in the city, but I’ve never had this problem. Turns out, if you run into someone’s business with a toddler that looks like they’re about to pee all over the floor, you’ll be pointed to the nearest bathroom with a friendly smile and no fee asked.

Which brings me to my next point: Friendly Dutch People

Friendly Dutch People

If you’ve watched one video on Amsterdam or the Netherlands, you’ve probably heard that the Dutch are direct and maybe even rude. But I’ve never thought that to be the case. Anytime we go out with the kids, someone strikes up a conversation. “Jongen of meisje?” they ask about our toddler. (Boy or girl?) I was baby-wearing my toddler for a quick Albert Heijn trip and a lady waiting at the crosswalk with me commented on how cute my kid looked wearing Timberland boots while being strapped to me at the same time. People are nice here.

Once, our four year old had an entire conversation with a gentleman on the bus. They talked about his new school and how it was going learning Dutch.

Sure, you’ll see grumpy cyclists in the city center right outside of Centraal Station. But when you visit the neighborhoods, you’ll find people are really, really nice. A “Goedemorgen” goes a long way!

(translation: good morning / pronunciation: ghood-uh-mor-ha)

Kid Friendly Cafes

Cafes (not “coffeeshops”) in Amsterdam can be incredibly kid friendly. Cafes that are kid-friendly will have something for your children to do while you drink your coffee in peace. I’ve seen entire corners devoted to play kitchens, tiny tables, board games, puzzles, coloring sheets, and even a whole playground right outside the cafe.

Groot Melkhuis in Vondelpark has terraces and a playground.

Terrasmus in Erasmuspark has a play kitchen inside if it’s raining and a playground outside with picnic tables and umbrellas for parents.

Hannah’s boasts of four highchairs and a whole bookshelf devoted to toys and games ranging from toddler play cubes to board games for teens.

I promised tips for making your stay in Amsterdam with toddlers the most relaxing it can be, and here they are!

Stay in the Neighborhoods

If you can, book your hotel or Airbnb in one of Amsterdam’s neighborhoods. De Pijp and Jordaan are beautiful, and I’m partial to Amsterdam West because that’s were I live. The city pace is much slower and quieter out here than in the city center, and you’ll be near all major museums after a short bus ride verses taking two hours waiting and riding the bus if you stayed outside of Amsterdam, like in Vinkeveen, for example.

Don’t you dare visit Amsterdam during New Years if you want to sleep at night.

You think I’m exaggerating. That’s okay. I also thought the moms that warned me were exaggerating when they told me to rent an Airbnb for the week and get out of Amsterdam during New Years.

I’m not even joking. Amsterdam New Year’s sounds like a war zone. It’s not one firecracker every second, it’s an overlap of everyone in the city popping five fireworks at once. Starting at about 7pm, the constant explosions go on till around 2am, where you can finally start to hear seconds-long stretches of silence.

And the days leading up to New Year’s?

Broken glass from windows hit by fireworks is all over the sidewalk. Teenage boys will put fireworks in trashcans at bus stops or set them off on the sidewalk, even when children are nearby. A teenager set one off right outside our window and absolutely traumatized this little girl that had just walked outside with her family.

Don’t believe me? Google “Amsterdam New Year’s.”

But, all other times of year, don’t worry about loud noises at night. Dutch windows are very heavy-duty and soundproof, and the most you’ll hear is a motorbike whizz past or a bicycle bell dinging. Cities aren’t really that loud, cars are.

Don’t trust Instagram when it comes to dressing for the weather.

The first image is how my client dressed during her photoshoot. The second image is what she showed up in and quickly put back on when we were done. If you only looked at pictures of Amsterdam online, you’d think it was a sunny place all of the time. It’s not! It can be chilly in the shade and the wind coming off the canals can be intense.

Bring a wind and waterproof outer layer for yourself and your kids, and if you’re wearing a spring dress for photos with the cherry blossoms, I recommend throwing on some fleece-lined leggings underneath and rolling them up when it’s picture time. I also suggest layering your small toddler’s pants, as it can be colder when they’re sitting in the stroller and not walking themselves.

Quick and Cheap Albert Heijn Meals

Don’t pay €10 for a meal in the city center that your kid isn’t going to even touch. Instead, go to Albert Heijn and find the bakery section. You can buy a ham and cheese croissant (ham en kaas) for €1.89. They also have really good smoothies for fairly cheap to help fight your toddler’s vacation constipation. My favorite is the sinaasappel-mango-appel (orange-mango-apple). My husband likes the aardbei-banaan-appel (strawberry-banana-apple) blend. Our kids will throw either one back like its the best thing they’ve ever had.

Don’t stop there at the bakerij (look at you, reading Dutch!). The maple pastries are heavenly. The apple triangles are good and usually on sale. There’s also these egg-roll-like sticks that are phenomenal. Seriously, skip the overpriced tourist meals in the city center, and get you an Albert Heijn lunch.

Just note that the Albert Heijns in the city center should take American cards, but the ones out in the neighborhood absolutely do not. You can withdraw cash from the ATM machines at the front of the store.

Hire a babysitter!

How nice would it be to be able to put the kids to sleep and then head out to explore the city together with your partner?! Absolutely a dream, right?

I met Byrony and Stacy when they were nannying for Mamasocial, a mother’s brunch club. They also visited my home studio for a branding photoshoot where we got to know each other more. Byrony and Stacy own Bumble and Tumble, and they offer vacation care to parents visiting Amsterdam as part of their nannying services. So, if you’re in need of a vacation from your vacation (and vacationing with toddlers, who on earth can blame you!), make sure to get in touch with them and schedule a consultation.

Interview with Bumble and Tumble coming soon!

Light and Airy Amsterdam Photographer Sim Sawyers

I’m Sim, a motherhood and family photographer living in Amsterdam. I’d love to capture you and your family while you’re visiting the Dam. If you’d like to book a session, please use the booking tab on my website or email me directly at

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