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A good friend of mine once said, there is travel and there is vacation. After having kids, this has never been more true!!! Sometimes, traveling the world with tots in tow can feel exhausting. We know how fortunate we are to be showing them the world, but then we come home feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation! But a CenterParcs Baby trip is truly a vacation. It is relaxing, low key, and chill…everything you want in a Holiday with a baby.
^Heading to Center Parcs? Pin It For Later!^
We have now been to Center Parcs Allgäu twice (read my full review on that location here), which is actually quite unusual for us to go back to places more than once, so that is quite telling in how we felt about our first time. We now are eyeing other Germany CenterParcs locations to see if they stack up. Our very close travel buddies that went with us have also stayed at the Center Parcs Park Eifel and said that, more or less, you can expect much of the same at each location.
So, after two CenterParcs Baby trips, here is what we have learned, figured out, and know for our next trips!
Are CenterParcs Good For Babies?
This depends. What is the goal of your vacation? How old is your baby? Are you wanting to really utilize all of the Center Parcs activities and attractions at the park, like the ziplines, bowling, spa, and impressive water slides? Well, then maybe it’s not great for your youngest addition to the fam.
Are you looking for just a chill, go with the flow trip where the purpose is to have a little getaway and simply just be with family? Then yes, it’s a great place.
We have traveled with babies as young as basically newborns, so to us, any travel can be adapted to babies. However, you should know that most of the baby “activities” on-site at CenterParcs are going to be for older babes. For example, there is a stellar indoor play area, even a section for the littles, but it is geared more towards the tots that can at least hobble around. There just simply isn’t a lot for the 6 months and under crowd.
At most of the CenterParcs there is a fantastic pool. In fact, it is basically the sole reason why we’ve gone back twice to the CenterParcs Allgäu location because the one there is insanely awesome. There are TWO pool areas for babies in the HUGE “Aqua Mundo,” but again, if you’ve got a baby just a few months old, they aren’t going to be doing a whole bunch of splashing around. On the other hand, when J was just 8 months and then again at almost 2 years, the kiddie pools couldn’t have been more perfect for him!!! (More on tips and tricks for the pool below)
Decide On How To Get Around
If you haven’t already figured it out, Center Parcs is basically like “Family Camp” with a whole slew of cabins. The way that the Allgäu CenterParcs works is that the Market Dome is basically in the middle of the park, surrounded by “layers” of cottages. Besides at check in and checkout times, it is a car-free resort. These resorts are HUGE, so depending on where your apartment is located, it could be a good 15 minute walk to the Dome (which is where all the restaurants, the pool, kids play areas, etc) are.
If you’ve hung around this blog at all or seen our Instagram, you know we baby wear ALL.THE.TIME. Sooo, maybe I’m a smidge biased, but I still think baby wearing, even at Center Parcs, is the way to go. For example, when you get to the Aqua Mundo Centre Parcs pool, there is a big room for strollers. Of course, I didn’t even think to bring a stroller lock, and luckily everything in it was safe, but it was just one more thing to lug around and deal with on our trip. On our second go-around, we baby wore and it was SO much easier to just toss the Tula into the locker.
Depending on how old your baby is, you can bike with a bike seat or with a trailer around the nice paved paths. This is actually extremely handy since, like I stated above, it can be a good 15 minute walk or so to the cabins from the main areas. I never found this to be an issue, but it can obviously be nice to zip around a bit faster.
You can either bring your own, or there are bikes and trailers to rent on sight as well, which is a splurge, but a nice amenity to have.
Rent a Golf Cart
If you really want to get around fast, there are golf carts to rent on sight as well. These definitely cost a pretty pretty, but if you plan on going back and forth a lot, it is something to consider.
You’re Apartment is (Mostly) Baby Friendly
The Allgäu cottages are new, beautiful, and feel like home away from home…mostly! I love that things like high chairs and cribs come standard in all cottages. If you have a two story cottage, like we did, there is even a really great baby gate at the top of the stairs!
And while you have a really amazing, fully stocked kitchen, none of the dishes are kid-proofed. All of the cups are glass and the dishes breakable. This wasn’t a big deal for our 4 year old, but when J was 8 months, it was actually kind of a pain. Even just a few plates, bowls, and cups that are those cheap IKEA plastic ones would have made a big difference for a family that had multiple babies with us.
With that being said, there were tea spoons and small forks which actually made for the perfect kiddie cutlery.
There are also step stools in the bathrooms and even a potty seat for the younger kiddos, too (which was especially handy with my newly potty trained child last year!)
Whenever I travel with babies, I always bring along a white noise machine (or just download an App) and this was especially handy at CenterParcs. I found the walls quite thin and could easily hear from one room to the next as well as a late night outdoor group down the road from us. The white noise helped keep the babes asleep, I felt.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
While it is a fully stocked kitchen, this is where it felt more like a “cabin” to me. There were a lot of things that we were supposed to bring that I felt the website wasn’t very clear on. Since we didn’t know to bring these things, we either made do with what we had or had to go to the store on site to purchase them.
- Toilet Paper (they will only provide one roll per bathroom)
- Paper Towels
- Hand towels for bathrooms and kitchen
- Trash bags (none are supplied)
- Dish soap
- Dishwasher tabs/ soap
- Coffee filters (and coffee… I DID say essentials, after all!)
Meal Prep or Bring Foods For the Self Catering Apartments
The kitchens in the apartment are seriously impressive (besides the above things we totally didn’t know to bring!) and stocked really well with appliances. There were all sorts of things like a toaster, plenty of pots and pans for cooking, cups, plates, bowls, coffee pot, can opener, spatulas, pasta strainer, and more. Outside of fancy gadgets, the kitchens have pretty much all the basics that come in a fully functioning kitchen.
While there is a store on site, and it is fantastic for those things you may have forgotten, it is also overpriced and I personally can’t justify eating out for every meal. On the other hand, when I am on vacation, I don’t want to be cooking all day!!! I always make up some meals that can either be re-heated or just a few things done to finish it all up when I am there. Here is some of the food that I prepped before hand so that it was a cinch to get food on the table for my hungry army:
- Baked and shredded chicken for white queso nachos
- Measured and baggied all the dry ingredients for pancakes ahead of time
- Baked a pan of enchiladas that just needed to be reheated at the cottage
- Made up a batch of chili ahead of time to quickly and easily assemble chili dogs
- Premade meatballs that could easily be plopped on top of spaghetti noodles made quickly there
- Batch of no bake cookies and rice krispies
Other food we brought with was plenty of fruit for snacking, yogurt to grab and go in the mornings, eggs for breakfast, and sandwich supplies for lunches. Couldn’t be easier!
There is also a microwave/oven combo, so if you need to sterilize bottles for babies or heat up baby food, that’s a cinch. And if you formula feed, there is a water boiler as well to help purify the water.
Order Take Out
I don’t know about you, but after having kids, going to restaurants just isn’t as enjoyable as they once were, yes, even at a family resort! I feel like I’m constantly trying to keep my kids quiet, “entertained,” and the baby from losing his mind from sitting in the Kinder Stuhl. Buuuuut, I also really love not having to cook for my family once in awhile. Oh the struggles!
What is nice is that you can order take out from the restaurants (and even mix and match the food from the different restaurants) and either do pick up or even have them deliver it to your cottage. The delivery is free after a certain amount spent, so that was a nice perk. A totally added surprise was if you spent over $40 you got a free bottle of wine. Hey, I’ll take free wine!!!!
Guys. This is a game changer!!!! It was so nice to not have to cook or clean and just have our food at our cabin!
Stock Up On Your Own Diapers and Wipes
Just like the food at the on-site store, the diapers are totally overpriced. We were only staying for a long weekend, but if you are doing a proper holiday where you are going to be at Center Parcs for a week or so, make sure you have packed enough to last, or pay the price.
Child Care Doesn’t Start Until 2 Years
There are some child care options where you can pay to have your kids attend the child care center for a few hours. This is especially fantastic if you want to get in some Spa time, or just want to do a couples activity that the young kiddos can’t do (like ziplining).
However, kids under 2 can’t attend the child care and I have to admit, when looking for a “Kinder Hotel” type of place, this was a big “con” for me. I really like staying at family resorts that babies as young as 6 months can attend, but CenterParcs is NOT one of those.
Bring Toys For The Kids
While the apartments are fantastic, there is nothing in them that makes them especially appealing to the younger kids. In a matter of time, the kids will be on your nerves saying, “I’m boooooored!!” We always bring open ended toys for the kids to play with when we travel. For example, the travel tea party set was a hit, as was a “Little People” airplane set.
When we travel with babies, we always find simple things to keep them entertained, like a ball to roll, a lovey to play with, etc. Depending on how young your baby is, or just how much you want to pack, a kick/play mat could be worth bringing though to a place like this, especially if you intend on just hanging out at the cottage for periods of times.
Of course, there are playgrounds every which way at the resort. That means it’s only a minute’s walk to the nearest one. Don’t forget your sand toys! Again, these are more for the “older” babies and the kids, but even at 8 months, J still had fun playing in the sand and doing the slides.
Pay For the Bedding
Some cottages are different, depending on the packages. The first time we went, the bedding and towels were not included in the base price/package. Paying a few extra bucks was totally worth not having to pack all of that!! The second time we went, it was a part of our package, so we didn’t even have to worry about it. Just make sure you know that it’s not an automatic inclusion, so look into that, and strongly consider just having them provide it. It’s one less thing to pack and deal with when trying to get out the door with a baby!
CenterParcs Swimming Pool With a Baby
Each CenterParcs is a bit different, but they all have areas that are extremely kid friendly. Have I mentioned just how much I LOOOOVED the Allgau pool (Aqua Mundo)? “Pool” doesn’t really even do it justice. It was a whole freaking aqua resort!!
At 8 months, J was content sitting in the very, very shallow baby pool just kicking and splashing. Granted, this time around, at almost 2 years old, I totally forgot the pool toys. While a bit overpriced at the store on site, once we had those in hand, he spent hours upon hours just splashing around in the kiddie pool and splash area. At almost 2, he even loved doing some of the “baby slides” with us as well! By the end of the trip, he was constantly asking “Pool Time??” So, yeah…I’d say he loved it!
B (3 and then 4 years) also never wanted to leave the pool! He enjoyed the same areas just as much as the baby, which made it really easy to all be together. He was even old enough to try out several of the “big” waterslides, too!
Both boys loved the “lazy river” inside and the wave pool (with the adults, obviously) as well.
One of the really nice things that I appreciated about the CenterParcs pool was that they have life jackets on hand for the younger kids. This was fantastic since there were some locations (like the water slides) that I felt a lot better with B wearing a lifevest.
Food At the Pool
Feel free to bring your own food and snacks to the pool. This is especially handy to pull out some fruit or a healthy snack after hours of swimming.
There is also a microwave for use if you have something (like baby food) that you would like to heat up.
There is also a restaurant on the pool side as well (at Allgau, it’s a great burger joint). However, like most restaurants there, it is a bit on the pricier side. Also, if you hit it at the wrong time, you are sure to be waiting in line for a loooong time. And nothing makes hungry kids hangrier than having to wait for food after swimming all morning!
Find an Empty Cabana or Crib
Yes, you read that right. CRIBS. AT THE POOL! Definitely try to find a spot with an empty crib or cabana. It was so loud (white noise-esque) and warm in the tropical style pool. Combine that with a busy morning playing at the park and swimming, J faded fast 2 of our 3 days swimming. Instead of having to walk him all the way back to the cottage, he just zonked out at the pool. I was able to lay him down in a crib nearby and let him snooze while we kept an eye on B in the splash area. It was so perfect!
When To Go To the Pool With Babies
Again, depending on the age of your kiddos, this may all vary. For example, one of the busiest times at the pool is in the morning through about mid afternoon. However, if you have a baby that needs an afternoon nap, that might not be ideal for you.
We found that going right at opening and all morning was really full. In fact, with Covid capacity restrictions, we ended up having to wait in a long line at only 10:3am to just get in (the rainy day didn’t help, I’m sure).
It started to slow down about mid afternoon (3pmish). Going around dinner time is a fantastic time to be there as well, since most people had spent most of the day at the pool and are done or are off finding food by that point.
*Note: During Covid, there were capacity restrictions, time limits, and adjusted pool hours. This changed even from when we booked to when we stayed, so be sure to check often for the newest policies regarding Coronavirus.
Baby Swim Classes
There are even baby swim classes that start for babies at 6 months old with an instructor. As a prior swim instructor myself, I can’t stress how great Mommy and Me (or parental) swim classes are! The only downside to this is that it is an additional cost.
Center Parcs Packing List For Babies
*Scroll to the end to download your free Center Parcs Packing Checklist
I know, I know, I keep saying “Depending on the age of your baby” but that is obviously going to be the case here. So, just plan accordingly depending on what stage of baby your kiddo is in.
Also, the apartments don’t have washing machines. If your kids are anything like mine, we can easily go through multiple outfits a day from spills and when B was a baby, he’d spit up on bibs like nobody’s business. Therefore, either pack a LOT of extras or bring along some laundry soap and a line for some good ‘ol fashioned sink laundry! There is a drying rack in each cottage, so that was extremely helpful, especially with all the wet swimsuits and pool gear.
- Diapers, wipes, cream
- Baby bath soap
- Swim diapers (and swim suit)
- Binkie/Pacifier/ Dummy
- White noise
- Baby food
- Simple Toys
- Crib sheet
- Stroller or Baby Carrier
- Pool toys
- Playground toys (shovel, etc)
- Swim suit
- Board games
- A few easy to pack toys (Dinosaurs, soccer ball, UNO cards, etc)
- HDMI cord to plug laptop into TV for movies
- Laufrad or bike
General Packing Supplies for Center Parcs
- Swim suits for all
- Trash bags
- Dish soap
- Dishwasher soap
- Laundry soap and travel drying line
- Hand towels
- HDMI cord to plug laptop into TV for movies
- Pool towels for everyone
- Plenty of kid’s snacks!
- During Covid restrictions, face masks are required for people above the age of 6 in all indoor locations
CenterParcs With Baby FAQs
Does Centre Parcs Have Childcare?
Yes. In the UK, it is called Creche and in Germany it is the Kids Klub. However, both start at age 2. You need to make reservations and pay extra for this service.
Is There Babysitting at Center Parcs?
At some locations, babysitting is an option and is an added feature/ cost.