I’ve lived in Istanbul, Turkey for two years as an expat, including my entire pregnancy. Vera was born at Istanbul’s American Hospital and has spent nearly all of her first year here (when she’s not globetrotting). It’s a challenging place to be with a baby: bad sidewalks, many hills and stairs, and few baby amenities like changing tables in restaurants. It’s also the most baby-friendly place I’ve been; you can’t walk down the street without a chorus of Maşallahs (bless you*) and compliments from strangers, and every restaurant is child-friendly.
GETTING AROUND: A guide to public and private transportation around Istanbul with a baby.
OUT & ABOUT: Here’s a list of cafes, museums, and other spots with baby changing tables/rooms.
BABY-FRIENDLY FACTOR: A few examples of how no one loves babies more than Turks.
*A good definition of Maşallah, from my friend Ani, a Turkish teacher: ‘This expression literally may be translated as “What wonders God has willed” but may be used to express “how marvelous”, “how wonderful”, and “great”. This expression is used upon hearing of a birth, being introduced to someone’s children, when learning of an achievement such as someone winning a scholarship, or together with praise and compliments. It is particularly important to use this word within a compliment so that the person or thing being complimented is protected against “nazar” (evil eye). Maşallah may also refer to the blue bead or a small gold charm with an inscription of Maşallah (in Arabic script) which are both used to ward off the “evil eye” or “nazar”.’