Bringing up Toddlers and Children in France

Find out about the services, activities and help available to you and your children in France...

From birth to young adulthood, the information needed for parents in France on child health, out of school activities, financial assistance available to the family, and traditions in French schools.

Below is information on:

  • Health Booklet
  • Doctors and Paediatricians
  • Children’s Emergencies in France
  • Vaccinations

The Health Booklet

A health booklet (carnet de santé) is issued by the hospital, doctor or town hall after the birth of your baby. This should be taken to every medical consultation the child has until they are 18 years of age. The doctor will enter the details of any procedure. This provides a record of full medical history. There are 20 compulsory medical visits for children up to the age of six.

If your child was born abroad and you have just moved to France, you can request a health booklet from your local Town Hall (Mairie) or the nearest Centre de protection maternelle et infantile (PMI). 

Doctors and Paediatricians

Most children are followed by a paediatrician in France, and when you give birth, your chosen paediatrician will generally come and visit you and your baby at the hospital before you leave the maternity.

Following the birth of your baby, there are 20 compulsory medical check-ups up to the age of 6, the first 2 take place at the maternity itself, then there is one visit per month until the child is 6 years old. The next check-up is at 9 or 10 months old, then when your child is 1. After that, there are 2 compulsory check ups per year until the child is 6. All of these check-ups are reimbursed at 100%.

A referral is not required to see a specialist if your child is under the age of 16.

Private health insurance (santé complémentaire or mutuelle) is available from any medical insurer. Rates vary depending on the degree of cover required and status of the applicant. Anyone with a top-up insurance has the treatment recorded and the appropriate balance reimbursed by their mutuelle.

Hospital costs are reimbursed 80% by the social security fund. A mutuelle is advisable to cover at the very least, all costs related to hospitalisation for your child, as the costs can mount up very quickly if your child is hospitalised. For example, if your child was to be hospitalised in intensive care (réanimation), the cost is nearly 600 euros per day.  Most mutuelles also pay up to a certain amount per day (forfait) for private rooms. 

Children’s Emergencies in France

If your child is seriously ill, take them to the nearest emergency department or dial 15 or 112 for medical help. Emergency departments (urgences)are found in most hospitals, and some have their own children’s emergencies department -  urgences pédiatriques. Many big towns also have their own specialist children's hospital - Hôpital pour enfants.

In Paris the main hospital for children is the Hôpital Necker, which has been classed as the best children's hospital in France. It is also the main hospital in France for very sick children and children with rare illnesses.

Other specialised hospitals for children in main towns across France include:

  • Hôpital Lenval in Nice
  • La Timone in Marseille
  • Hôpital Femme Mère Enfant in Lyon
  • Hôpital des Enfants - Groupe hospitalier Pellegrin - CHU de Bordeaux
  • Hôpital des Enfants - Centre Hospitalier de Toulouse

Which vaccinations are compulsory for children in France?

Since January 1 2018, the following 11 vaccinations are compulsory for children under the age of 2:

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio DTP  - given in one vaccination with 3 compulsory injections at monthly intervals from the age of 2 months
  • Haemophilius influenzae Type B – against the bacteria responsible for meningitis, pneumonia, and other serious infections
  • Whooping cough (la coqueluche)
  • Hepatitis B (l’hépatite B)
  • Measles (la rougeole)
  • Mumps (les oreillons)
  • Rubella (la rubéole)
  • Meningococcal C – against the bacteria responsible for certain forms of meningitis (méningocoque C)
  • Pneumococcal – against the bacteria responsible for meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis (le pneumocoque)

Note: These vaccinations are compulsory and parents or legal guardians can be fined for not vaccinating their children.

The BCG for tuberculosis is recommended but not compulsory.

Proof of vaccination is required when enrolling your child in school in France.

References and Further Information

  • Information from the French government site, Service Public about the Health booklet