Holidays with babies and toddlers can bring a plethora of new things to consider. As well as figuring out whether a hotel is equipped for little ones, you also have to factor in travel time, weather and access to amenities while you're there. It can be tricky to find the right balance between them all, but there are plenty of family-friendly resorts, towns and cities both in the UK and further afield that parents and little ones will love.
We've rounded up some of the best holiday destinations for families with toddlers or babies, including Europe's very first baby hotel, some beautiful beach resorts and even some far-flung places for those who aren't put off by the idea of a long flight.
1. Costa Del Sol, Spain
Easily reached within three hours of the UK, you have the guaranteed weather and beautiful beaches every parent craves when they think of a fun summer break. While a self-catering villa or apartment could be ideal if you want to prepare your own meals, it may be worth paying a little extra for an all-inclusive resort, as they will have a selection of children's meals that even fussy eaters will enjoy and offer the convenience of having food available pretty much around the clock.
Puente Romano Marbella is one such stunning resort. With three outdoor pools and a dedicated family one down by the sand, there's plenty of variety for a whole week away. Plus, if toddlers are ready for pony lessons, the on-site equestrian centre is perfect. There are daily excursions, watersports, sailing and tennis schools and the kids needn't break the bank. Under 12, extra beds or cots are free. Yachts can be booked if you and the family fancy a day out alone, and there are kids clubs in high season for children arranged if you fancy a day out with the family and from May to September there's a kids clubs. Babysitting also available.
2. The Baby Hotel, Austria
As the name indicates, the Baby Hotel in Austria is the ideal place to go with your little one. Europe's first baby hotel offers 80 hours' childcare each week for babies, has special menus for nursing mothers and a full-board option for formula-fed babies. You'll also find dedicated baby-and-parent activities, as well as a spa and fitness centre where adults can relax and enjoy some time away knowing their baby is well looked after.
3. Club Med in the Algarve, Portugal
The newly-renovated Da Balaia resort perched on the cliffs of the Algarve is a veritable paradise for families with young kids. Guaranteed to offer mum and dad the one thing they really need - a break - this hotel has literally everything you could think of for young families. First off, there's the childcare. Taking babies from 4 months old and up to teenagers, there's a club for every age and a plethora of activities to get stuck into. While many parents start the week sure their child will only want to pop in for a session or two, the GOs (the staff looking after the kids) are so amazing and the fun so plentiful, kiddos are usually begging to stay all day.
While children are occupied, mum and dad can get some much-earned rest, either taking a dip in the adult-only, chlorine-free zen pool, getting a treatment in the luxurious Cinq Mondes spa, or perhaps squeezing in a game of tennis, a spot of golf or a gym class (all group sports lessons are included).
Food is divine - with bottle stations in each accommodation block, and freshly-made purees, the miniest of diners are well catered for. And with the array of food on offer, even picky toddlers can be sure of a full belly. After hours, kids are very welcome to join in the fun - whether you're watching them perform on stage or they're cosying up with new pals for a movie night while you hit the dance floor, the options are endless.
There are trips on the ocean to be had, visits to local golf courses, a circus trapeze to play around on and miles upon miles of stunning Atlantic coast to wander through. It's a place friends will be made and memories created. Little ones may prefer the more temperate April and May to the blazing heat of the summer - great deals can be found outside of school holidays too.
4. Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Dubai
Situated less than 30 minutes from Dubai Marina is probably the most thrilling and entertaining hotel - Lapita - which is ideal for families. Lapita Hotel is conveniently situated inside Dubai Parks and Resorts which is the home of three world-class theme parks and one water park. Can parents think of anything better to keep their little ones entertained?
Lapita is a Polynesian themed resort which offers stunning spacious guest rooms and suites featuring private balconies, five restaurants and bars, a spa boutique, a fitness centre, swimming pools and even its very own 'slow river'.
5. Center Parcs, UK
Each of the five Center Parcs villages across the UK is suitable for holidaying with a baby or toddlers, with lots to explore and activities including swimming pools which have separate areas for youngsters, while the crèche offers three-hour sessions for children up to 35 months. The accommodation is fully-equipped too; lodges are fitted with stair gates and have high chairs and a cot.
There's an array of indoor and outdoor activities for toddlers, from mini football, to pottery painting and much inbetween. Many restaurants include baby stations with free baby food, bottle warmers and anything else your little one could require. There are even soft play zones inside some restaurants so there's no fear of hungry tantrums while you're waiting for supper to arrive.
There are kiddie zones in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, as well as baby trailers to hire to attach little ones onto the back of bikes if they're too small to ride. And if you go down to the woods (which you must - because the play parks are a lot of fun) you might be in for a big surprise. A real life teddy bear's picnic. Sign us up!
Bulgaria has many unspoiled Blue Flag beaches that are both clean and safe, so you can have fun playing in the sand or paddling in the sea with little ones. Nessebar has both old and new towns to explore, with plenty of places to shop and eat during the day and early evening before you retreat to your hotel or villa for your baby's bedtime.
Although it's a slightly longer flight to take with a baby or toddler, the Canary Island of Tenerife is a great choice for a holiday with little ones at any time of year. Some of the most family-friendly resorts include Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje. Choose your hotel carefully, as you'll want a place where you can unwind and spend the evening without disturbing your baby once they've gone to bed.
8. Rome, Italy
If you fancy a city break, Rome is ideal for young families. Not only is it easy to explore many of the sites on foot, the streets are relatively flat for getting around with a pushchair. You'll also find specialist tours for kids and families, such as a three-hour scavenger hunt tour around the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Or a pizza- and gelato-making class - bound to put any little monkey in a good mood.
9. Tuscany, Italy
Another child-friendly Italian destination is Tuscany, where you can indulge in pizza and ice cream in the Italian sunshine, while your tots can spend their days playing in the pool. The medieval town of Lucca is completely flat and easy to navigate with a pushchair, but you might want to consider travelling out of season as temperatures soar during the summer months and it may be too hot for babies and toddlers.
10. Bali, Indonesia
If you're prepared to travel further afield, Bali is an affordable baby-friendly option. Canggu, Ubud, Jimbaran and Nusa Lembongan are among the most family-friendly areas. Hotels are well-equipped with cots and highchairs, while you can easily book a nanny or babysitter to take care of your tot while you have some alone time. A nanny can even join you on your outings to let you have a bit of a break too thanks to an extra pair of hands.
11. Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City is another long-haul destination that is easy to explore with a baby or toddler. Once you've got over the journey, you can take in attractions like the Navy Pier and Shedd Aquarium, or take a free stroller tour at some of the city's museums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art - where you'll want to call by on the first Wednesday of the month, between 11:30am-12:30pm.
12. Athens, Greece
Exploring Greece with your baby or toddler can be an enjoyable experience for all, thanks to the child-friendly culture that often sees youngsters eat free at restaurants or stay for free at hotels. One of the best places to go is Athens, where you can see historic landmarks like the Acropolis and wander around the picturesque neighbourhood of Plaka with your children in tow.
13. New Forest, UK
You can't go wrong with a trip to the New Forest with youngsters. There is so much to see and do, including visiting Paulton's Family Theme Park – home to none other than Peppa Pig World – sure to be a big hit with toddlers.
There's lots of fantastic places to stay. The Mayflower in Lymington is super for young families - a perfect coastal gastro pub, situated a stone’s throw from Lymington marina – and ideal for children with a garden complete with play area and within easy walking distance to Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve which provids an idyllic place for a toddle or a stroll. They provide scrummy picnic lunches for longer adventures.
Try Sir Richard Branson's new Son Bunyola retreat in Majorca for a luxurious family holiday. The estate covers 680 acres of land and includes three villas, which each have their own private chef and a full concierge, while there is also a babysitting service on offer. Alternatively, if you're on more of a budget, head to one of the popular beach resorts like Cala D'Or, which has lots of affordable and child-friendly accommodation, small and safe beach coves, along with activities like the MiniT renet tourist road train and numerous children's parks where toddlers can play.