Hajj with Children: a survival guide for families!

Is Hajj for kids? From packing and preparation to advice for navigating the challenging journey, here’s what you need to know prior to performing Hajj with the family.

Before setting off on a trip to Makkah with the family it’s important to understand what to bring, safeguards to take and ways to engage children on the sacred pilgrimage.

Find Child-Friendly Hajj Packages

Search for organizers with services that cater to kids. For example, some packages offer to have guides supervise children while you perform Hajj rituals.

Essential Items for Makkah with Kids

The desert sun can be harsh on both you and your children. Bring an ample supply of sunscreen and a hat for each member of the family. You’ll also want to travel with plenty of water bottles as dehydration will be a concern for much of the journey. Consider snacks that can withstand heat such as dried fruit, granola bars and individually wrapped hummus tortillas. A travel pillow will be indispensable when your child wants to sleep.

There are pros and cons to bringing a stroller. It’s useful to have one while shopping in Makkah and traveling from hotel to mosque. A stroller that reclines to a flat position is also great for sleeping. However, strollers are not allowed in or around the Grand Mosque during Hajj. Also, keep in mind you can hire a wheelchair to ferry children around Makkah. So it might not be necessary to lug a stroller around for the entire trip.

Clothing for Hot Days and Cool Nights

Children should dress for hot weather in Makkah. While kids are not required to wear Ihram clothing, the loose lightweight garment is still a good idea. It’s also a good opportunity to teach them that simple clothing is worn to express that all are equal before Allah. Evening temperatures drop in the desert climate so you should also have clothing for cool weather. It’s a good idea to bring blankets or sleeping bags for your night under the stars at Muzdalifah and Mina.

Document Hajj Steps in a Family Diary

Keeping an account of one’s pilgrimage is a time-honored tradition in Makkah’s heritage that’s almost as old as Hajj itself. It’s also a wonderful way to bring the family together to recount shared experiences, discuss each day’s events and record how they impacted members of the family. Let the older kids write about the activities in their own words and have a parent write for younger children. Encourage them to draw pictures depicting what they witnessed each day. The diary will be a memento that’s cherished for generations.

Educate and Entertain with Digital Devices

Your smartphone or tablet can be an invaluable tool that both educates and occupies young minds on the journey. Online stores have lots of Hajj-related apps that will come in handy on long rides. Check out Learn Hajj Games and Salah for Kids. You can also download e-books such as Tell Me About Hajj and Muslim Child to teach about the importance of Hajj in inspiring and interactive ways. If you have a reliable Internet connection, watch any number of kid-friendly YouTube videos that illustrate the significance of the pilgrimage. Feeling retro? Buy some animated Hajj DVDs from Amazon to play on your laptop.

Make a Hajj Map

Visuals are a great way to engage children. You can download and print an online map of the Hajj steps or create your own. Make the map in black and white and have the kids color each step as they’re performed. Let children draw the hill of Mount Arafat as you explain the importance of the site where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preached his final sermon. Fill the sky over Muzdalifah with stars as you teach your children why pilgrims spend a night in the open. The map will also make a wonderful keepsake your family will treasure for years.

Consider a Safety Plan

Getting separated from a child is one of every parent’s greatest concerns. An identification bracelet for your child can give you peace of mind. You can order one online. YouTube videos can help you make a fun and fashionable wristband. Include the names of both the child and parents, your hotel and a local phone number in both English and Arabic. Keep in mind that Hajj locations can get crowded and chaotic. So it’s a good idea to always agree on a meeting point in the event of separation.

A pilgrimage during childhood doesn’t free one from the obligation of Hajj during adulthood. But the journey can be an inspiring spiritual experience that helps children gain a deeper understanding of their faith.

Discover the best restaurants in Makkah for kids

If you’re in Makkah with your family, you’ll know how important it is to find family-friendly restaurants where kids are welcome and will have a good time. Here’s a new guide to some top places to eat if you’re travelling with children.

You’ll find that many international restaurants in Abraj Al Bait and around the Grand Mosque allow children in all areas. Other restaurants, especially those specialising in Turkish, Indian or Arabic cuisine, have separate family sections. Check when booking to get a table in the right area!

All of the restaurants below have facilities for children like high chairs, changing facilities and special menus. Some even have play areas where the kids can amuse themselves while you enjoy your meal in peace.

Casual dining at Makkah Clock Royal Tower

For a casual meal with a dynamic touch, take the family to Atyaf Restaurant in the Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel by Fairmont. This all-day dining restaurant is bright, colourful and has plenty of choice for fussy children, with dishes ranging from Middle Eastern and North African to Asian and Mediterranean. Children will love the lively kitchen theatre and juice station – plus of course, the pizza and pasta station!

The restaurant is incredibly convenient if you’re near the Grand Mosque or in Abraj Al Bait Mall. Of course, the Fairmont hotel has several other dining choices to offer, from a quick coffee and snack at Mazaq Café to the casual Asian restaurant Aja with its fresh hot noodles and dim sum.

Arabic food in Al Aziziya

Al Aziziya neighborhood, a short stroll from the Haram area, is known for its good shopping centers and markets – but it’s also a great place to come for Arabic food. It’s packed with Arabic restaurants of many types, including many serving traditional Saudi Arabian dishes like al kabsa chicken with rice, jareesh (or harees, a popular Saudi dish of crushed wheat cooked with milk) and mathlutha (a mixture of rice, jareesh and meat).

Look out for Redan Restaurant, serving traditional chicken and rice dishes like mandi, madhbi and mafoon, plus mashawi (barbecued chicken).

Family-friendly Indian cuisine on the Taif road

You’ll find the family-friendly Dar Taj Al Hindi on the road from Makkah to Taif, 15 km northeast of the Grand Mosque off highway 40. Children will love the exotic Indian decor and ornate wooden wall with its waterfall.

When they’ve finished their meal they can enjoy the colourful playroom, which has a slide and toys.

A taste of Turkey

If your kids love Turkish food, take them to the Turkish Taste Restaurant (Al Mathaq Al Turki) in Al Shasha district.

It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Haram but well worth the effort: the grilled meats, expertly made Turkish pizzas and delicious desserts offer a real taste of authentic Turkish food. There’s a separate section for families.

Chinese buffets & private rooms

The Chinese Jumbo Restaurant in the Diyafa district is great for noodles – which are always popular with kids. Bright and colourful with generous portions of authentic Chinese food, the restaurant has screened booths so you can dine with your family in privacy.

It’s located about 5 km northwest of the Grand Mosque, so is an ideal place to stop for a meal if you’re travelling to or from Jeddah. The road – as well as the restaurant! – can get busy during peak times.

An ice-cream treat in Abraj Al Bait

Homemade ice cream at the Raffles Makkah Palace hotel? What a treat! Visit the fun Raffles Creamery for artisanal ice cream and other delicious desserts on a terrace overlooking the Grand Mosque. The ice cream is served on frozen stones with tons of delicious toppings to choose from – great for a birthday or other special occasion.

More recommended restaurants in Makkah

For more ideas of restaurants in Makkah to take your family, check out our restaurant guide – or simply ask your concierge for advice.

Family gathering eating meal around kitchen table

Make your children happy by taking them to the best restaurants in Makkah for kids!

Family eating at Fairmont Makkah Aja Asian Restaurant

Enjoy dining at Fairmont Makkah Aja restaurant with your children

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