It’s quite an untouched topic when it comes to packing for Hajj/Umrah with kids as most of the people you’ll consult would tell you to never take your kids along because:
1) You can’t focus on your ibaadah.
2) Your kids can get infections or get trampled on.
3) You may get angry at them for crying amidst the crowd and hence lose the rewards by shouting etc.
4) It will add to your extra stress as Hajj is already a test of your patience.
Even though leaving kids behind would perhaps be ideal in your case, but it may not be the possibility. And the reasons could vary from not having any close relatives around to no one agreeing to keep your kids for whatever reasons – busy schedule etc. Some would go to the length of advising you to not do Hajj, just because you have kids. If the authorities are allowing, then I say: Pray Istikhara and go for it. For most, Hajj is only a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. And if they lose one opportunity, they may never get it again. They may not have means by the next year or even be alive…life is fickle and there are no guarantees.
A woman lifted a child and said: Messenger of Allah, would he be credited with Hajj? He said: Yes. and for you, there would be a reward. [Muslim]
I don’t see why you’d let go of the opportunity because:
1) Taking care of your children is a part of ibaadah. Older kids can even worship with you. It’s a beautiful learning experience.
2) Infections/stampedes etc. – things like these can happen anywhere if Allah wills. Probability at hajj is more indeed, but seek Allah’s refuge, trust Him and do your best by taking the necessary precautions – like getting the immunizations and keeping away from large crowds.
3) As a parent, you must have gone through a crying child amidst crowd already, but you might be extra careful about your reactions at Hajj and you never know…it might bring you back as a calmer parent. If you develop a life-long habit through Hajj/Umrah, it’s definitely worth it.
4) In parenthood, stress can be an everyday thing just as joy is a part of every single day. Yes, it is probably ten times harder at Hajj but not to mention, ten times more rewarding as well.
As-Sai’b bin Yazid (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
“I was seven years old when I was taken to perform Hajj (pilgrimage). This was during the time the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performed the Hajjat-ul-Wada’ (Farewell Pilgrimage).” [Bukhari].
Ihram is not mandatory for kids but if they clad them, be sure it is not over fitted or extremely loose. Let them rehearse by wearing it at home before going. It is basically just to teach them through practicality as Hajj is mandatory only for an adult able Muslim.
So, if you’ve made your decision to go with the kids, now is the time to pack what you might need in this imaan-boosting journey. Most of the things that you and your child can use are mentioned already in these three posts:
Depending on the kind of personality you have, minimalistic or precautionary, it’s covered in the posts above.
First of all (like even mentioned in the previous posts), choose comfortable clothing for yourself and kids. Clothes which are made for activity – a lot of walking and climbing.
As an obvious keeper, medicines and liniments including AntiHistamines, band-aids, thermometer, and ORS etc. should be kept handy in the luggage. We have talked about it already in THIS post.
As a more specific list, consider the following for your child/children:
1) Identification Card
Make an Identification Card for each kid displaying their Name, Father’s Name (or Guardian’s name), Hotel Name/address and Phone Number. Kids should not forget to wear it every time they are out. Yet, always mention a meeting point before entering a prayer hall or any crowded area, in case anyone gets lost.
P.S. I’ve designed a safety ID card which you can download from the picture below (save image as…) and print out for your child/children:
(Fake name/Numbers are used as a sample). Arabic is also written at one side because sometimes policemen there may not understand English. So reading this, they can help your child track you more easily in shaa Allah.
(You can put a picture of the child at the backside or pen down other things like Blood group, Allergies etc.)
Although strollers can’t be used within the vicinity of masjid-al-haraam or during Hajj/Umrah, but when you go to Makkah, you may need the stroller for different reasons. For traveling from mosque till your hotel, for shopping, for just reaching your taxi/car/bus etc.
Buy a stroller especially for this journey. Super light and portable that reclines flat as well (because it can get tiring for kids and they might want to sleep). Select a second-hand stroller perhaps and give it away before coming back from KSA.
3) Baby Sling/Carrier
As keeping track of kids around you can be difficult at times, having them attached to you is easier as your hands are free that way – but yes that will mean walking with more weight. Rotate turns with your spouse while performing rituals like tawaaf and sa’ee or you can take a wheelchair to let the kids sit on them (also, because the wheelchair section is less crowded).
4) Safety harness
This is a very debatable topic and I’ve personally never used it. These are generally for kids who can walk/run. It may come with a plain bag or simply with buckles. I’ve seen parents in Haram etc. using it successfully. So I won’t judge. Rather it does seem like a necessity at Hajj. Some kids are mellow in nature and can sit for long periods of time. Some can’t. None is better than the other but at Hajj, you want your kids close by. And if you have multiple kids to handle, at least one with the harness will definitely be a plus. Especially at the time of prayers when the kids suddenly decide on running away.
Most kids love to walk so let them do that but a safety harness will perhaps keep your mind at peace. Most of the people making tawaf are only looking up, so they don’t see children and some of them will push everyone in their way – young or old. Hence, It’s a decision only you can make according to the personality of your child.
Depending on the age of your kid, diapers are a basic necessity! But don’t bring bundles of them as they are easily available in the markets around. (We have already mentioned rash cream/flushable wipes etc. in the posts before this one as adults may require them for different reasons as well).
6) Empty opaque plastic bags
I know this is not really necessary, but at times you will find garbage lying right in front of you – Not covered. And the sight of open dirty diapers is NOT nice. So if you have a dirty diaper to throw in the open, at least wrap it up. Please. We have discussed more toilet-related issues in the sacred places HERE.
7) Thin Changing sheet
It can be skipped but let’s not risk your child letting loose on the Mina tent mattress.
8) Feeding bottle
I’ve seen women nursing their kids on Hajj so it’s possible and certainly more convenient if you keep yourself well-hydrated, but if you have an infant who takes feeder only, then keep one along with the formula-milk-powder in a small container. You can wash and re-use so there won’t be any need to keep multiple bottles. Lightest and smallest would do.
9) Bendy Straw
Although kids can drink directly from the bottles there but if your kid only drinks from a sippy cup/or one with silicone straw, then bring a few straws (instead of packing a whole sippy cup or a bulky straw cup) to ensure that your kids are well-hydrated. There’s a lot of commuting so hydration is the key.
Totally off-topic (from bendy straws) but commuting reminded me of comfortable shoes. When I went for Hajj, a girl broke her shoes so her dad gave his shoes for her to wear and wore a plastic bag around his foot even though the ground was extremely hot and it’s not easy to walk barefoot. May Allah grant him the best reward.
So yes, I’ll say again and again. Durable comfortable shoes that your child has used a lot already. Preferably all rubber ones that they can take inside the bathroom as well. Flip flops are NOT a good idea.
10) Baby Food/ Snacks
Although whatever you’re eating, your child can eat too, but if your baby is really small, then you can take along a few pouches of baby food (I wouldn’t recommend food jars as they are heavy and breakable – also need an extra spoon with them). You can easily feed the kid directly from the food pouch through the nozzle. And don’t pack many snacks either as they will be available there inshaaAllah so you don’t want to keep traveling with the bulk until your child actually consumes them.
11) A plastic bib
Don’t bother with the cloth bib as plastic ones are easier to wash and don’t need extra detergent or anything.
Pacifier can be a life and death situation for some parents so you know what works best for your child. If he/she is small and is soothed by a pacifier, it can be a life saver.
13) Sun hat
We’ve already talked about sunscreens in the previous posts, but even with that, keep a sun hat for kids. Some kids don’t mind having accessories on their heads, some can’t stand it. So decide accordingly. An umbrella (like already mentioned) isn’t an ideal way of providing shade amidst large crowds.
14) Sleeping bag/ Swaddle
Depending on the age of your child, zipped up sleeping bags/ swaddles are really easy to use and save you from extra layering for upper and lower body separately as Muzdalfah can be really cold, especially when you’re lying down underneath an open sky. Other than that, light fully covered cotton clothes are the best if your child is not wearing an Ihram.
15) Their favorite toy/activity
There is always one thing that your child absolutely adores and let’s admit, most of the times it’s not even an actual toy. It could be a book they are obsessed with, a bottle, a spoon, a stuffed toy, a game…anything! and you as a parent know that best. Although it’s not ideal to bring inexpensive gadgets, but if you think your kids would only be entertained by an app/cat video etc. Then bring it at your own risk for the survival of your sanity. There will be times when they will have to sit for hours on end. But please make sure whatever you put on for them has no music in it (or even a loud noise as you’re not the only one there).
Gotta love Alif Baa app for that. It is interactive, educational and music free. Alhamdulillah.
I personally don’t know any music-free Hajj/Umrah cartoons or games that I can recommend, otherwise, something like that can double their knowledge of Hajj/Umrah. Upon research, I found the FOLLOWING RESOURCES. None of them are affiliates or reviewed/used thoroughly so feel free to run an in-depth research.
Although the essence of Hajj is to strip yourself, layer by layer, of everything that can be a distraction from being the slave of Allah, but for kids, it is more of a learning experience. They will usually get amused by all the people/kids around but if kids want to play, then let them do so. Now is not the time to follow strict schedules. You can catch up on your ibaadah in that time. Especially when staying in Mina tents. It’s a constricted place and sitting for long periods of time can be boring for little kids.
Most of the tips are mentioned HERE.
*Take kids along with you to collect the tiny pebbles for Jamaraat. They’ll love a little adventure.
*Most people would be amused seeing your kids and most would actually help you out without you even asking for help. People are always looking for ways to multifold their rewards at Hajj and it’s not about Athkaar only. So let them help if they offer. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.
*Wrap a tag/banner around the wrist of your child with details, in case they lose the identification card. And also give the child a hotel/group card that you’re staying with. You can write down a phone number on each child’s arm – just in case anything happens (God forbid). (courtesy of Umme Hafsa and Fareida)
*Child trafficking and female trafficking does happen in Saudi – even in Makkah (just like all over the world), so please stay safe!
*And last but not least, like Jalbas mentioned:
“Don’t take anything home that you don’t need. As you are packing to go home, remember all of the people who could use the extra food you have lying around, the sleeping bag that you plan to stash in your closet, or even the flip flops that you won’t need once you have a shower to yourself. Consider using your last days in Mecca to give away some of the items that you don’t really need to take home with you.”
May Allah make this journey blessed for you and your family. Don’t forget to keep us in your prayers. Jazakumullah khairan katheera.