Early childcare

The system

Belgium has an extensive network of quality childcare for young children aged 3 months to 3 years. A good starting point is to ask your municipality for a list of the day care centers, not always complete.

Their quality is supervised and supported by two official agencies:

If you want to make a choice, be aware that two main features characterize day care centers, one is the type of facilities and the other is the type of financial participation.

  • Collective facilities : your child is welcomed into a group of children (8 minimum for K&G, 9 for ONE) generally divided into sub-groups, supervised by one or more nurses depending on the number of children.
  • Family home : your child is welcomed into the home of a childminder in a small group of children (from 1 to 8 maximum for K& G, 1 to 4 maximum for ONE).
  • Accredited and subsidized facilities : the day care center is accredited and subsidized by the ONE or K&G and the daily rate is based on the parents' income. This is the case for all municipal day care centers.
  • Authorized facilities : the day care center is only authorized by the ONE or by K& G and the rate is freely determined by the day care center.

BE AWARE : for daycare overseen by the ONE/Kind en Gezin , you will need to show proof that your baby is vaccinated. More details in "vaccination in Belgium" below.

Subsidised childcare for sick children 

Many municipalities and most national healthcare services (mutualités) offer a childcare service if your child (from 3 months to 15 years) is too sick to go to daycare/school. Subject to certain conditions and availability, a qualified childminder will come to your home to look after your child.

Note that you will need to have a doctor’s note stating that your child needs to be looked after.

With your "mutuelle" the cost is around €3 per hour, with a maximum of 10 hours per day, and 3 days per illness, and you can usually have 18 days per year per child. Check with your own mutuelle for details.

The childminder only looks after your child – no other domestic tasks can be requested. In Brussels, demand for this service is very high, so you need to contact your mutuelle as soon as you know you will need the service.

Depending on availability, it may be possible to arrange care for the following day.

More info about subsidised childcare for sick children here.

Vaccination in Belgium

Under Belgian law, vaccination against polio is mandatory and you will need to show proof that your child has been vaccinated against polio before they can attend daycare/school. Vaccinations against other illnesses are commonly given and you may need to have your child vaccinated against these to be able to attend daycare or school.

For daycare overseen by the Office de le Naissance et de l’Enfance (ONE), you will need to show proof that your baby is vaccinated against diphtheria, whooping cough, type b Haemophilus influenzae, measles, rubella (German measles) and mumps.

The website vaccination info features a handy vaccination calendar based on Belgian recommendations. It also advises in general on vaccinations for children and adults, both when in Belgium and when travelling.

You can have your child vaccinated:

  • At the ONE/Kind en Gezin (free) consultation center in your neighbourhood. These agencies offer free vaccination programmes, based on the recommendations of the Superior Health Counsel of Belgium. If you choose to take advantage of this programme, you do not need to acquire the vaccinations yourself – the ONE/Kind en Gezin paediatricians keep the necessary vaccinations in stock.
  • By your paediatrician / family doctor. If you choose to do this, you will need to get a prescription for the vaccines from your doctor, and get them yourself in a pharmacy.

Find more practical info on babyhealth here.

First child

The birth of a child is an important moment in the life of a family. It also brings with it a number of administrative formalities for the parents. Here is a series of FAQs on various topics such as registering your child with the local authority, enrolling with an health insurance organisation, and the allowances you can claim as parents.

1.    Do I need to register my child with the local authority?

Yes. Within 15 days of its birth, the mother, father or both must go to the town hall (Registry Office) of the municipality in which the child was born to have a birth certificate issued. Find more info in our chapter residence formalities.

GOOD TO KNOW : if you are not married ("legal cohabitation" is not taken into account), consider prenatal recognition of the child to prove the link of paternity or co-paternity. Prenatal recognition of a child takes place before the child is born to create a link of paternity or co-paternity between a person and a child. It will simplify the administrative procedures immediately after the birth. For instance, this will save the mother having to travel to the commune to register the child immediately after birth. Without this document, the father or co-parent cannot go without the mother. The prenatal acknowledgement certificate is a document issued by your municipality. For more info, ask your commune of residence.

2.    Do I need to enrol my child with a health insurance organisation?

Yes. Actually your child will be signed up automatically to the same health insurance company as the oldest parent, but of course the parents can also change this. All you need to do is submit the birth certificate issued by the local authority when the child was registered to your (new) health insurance organisation.

Find more information in our chapter healthcare insurance and hospital insurance.

3.    As a parent, do I qualify to receive some financial allowance from the authorities or other bodies?

Yes. You will receive a birth allowance which is a one-off payment made to parents when their child is born. It amounts around €1100 for the first child and around €500 for subsequent children. A number of bodies (health insurance organisation, certain local authorities, trade unions etc.) award a birth bonus in addition to the birth allowance. This additional gift varies between €200 and €300. Finally, there is also the child benefit: this is a monthly contribution to the expenses incurred in your child's upbringing until its 18th birthday (or its 25th birthday if the child continues to study) and is based on your family situation.

Find more information in our chapter family allowance.

4.    Do I need to ask for these financial allowances or are they automatic?

No they are not automatic and therefore yes, you will need to make an application. If you live in Brussels, you can choose from the following child benefit funds, which will pay you both the birth allowance and child benefits : FamirisParentia BruxellesInfino BruxellesBrussels Family and Kids life Brussels. If is very easy to apply online. Do not forget to enclose the document received from the local authority when you registered your child.

Find more information in our chapter family allowance.

5.    What happens when parents work for European institutions?

In the event that both parents work for a European institution, it will become their institution's responsibility. When their child is born, they will automatically receive a birth allowance as well as child benefits. In the event that one parent works in the Belgian system (as employee or self-employed) and the other works for a European institution, you will not receive any EU allowance. However, the child can receive supplementary cover from the institution, after deduction of the amount already received under Belgian law.

If you live in Brussels, you can choose from the following child benefit funds, which will pay you both the birth allowance and child benefits : FamirisParentia BruxellesInfino Bruxelles, Brussels Family and Kidslife Brussels. It is very easy to apply online and do not forget to enclose the document received from the local authority when you registered your child.

Find more information in our chapter family allowance.

Activities for (young) children

Brussels offers a wide range of activities for young children. There are a number of good sources available:

  • visit.brussels, the regional tourism agency, has put together a series of activities for the whole family.
  • The Brussels-Capital Region website also includes a series of activities to do with your children.
  • The youth service of your municipality can also inform you on the activities in your neighborhood.
  • Brussels has a huge number of parks and green spaces, typically with a children’s play area. Check out the top 5 playgrounds in Brussels and download the playful brochure "Et si on jouait dehors" produced by Bruxelles Environnement.
  • Jong in Brussel is an initiative of the youth service of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC). The website gives an overview (by theme or location) of the Dutch-speaking leisure activities for young people in Brussels.

usefull links

  • Gezinsbond defends the interests of all families in Flanders and Brussels vis-à-vis political decision-makers.
  • La ligue des familles offers its members services and benefits that make their lives as parents easier every day.
  • Born in Brussels answers questions about birth and early childhood.
  • Hospichild offers a large range of information about non-medical healthcare solutions for children