Bump to Baby: ReallyKidFriendly.com
Every couple of months we will be telling you about a site we have come across which is for you when your bump becomes a baby. These sites may not be fashion related, but will be a great pick for mums-to-be. They will always be independent sites providing review on services and/or products. With that in mind, this month, we asked Janis at ReallyKidFriendly.com to let us have her top tips on being out and about with a new baby.
Eating out with a your new baby
As a new mum, the best places to be are calm environments with tasty food and friendly staff, a good baby changing area, and lots of room for buggies. And if you’re breastfeeding, you might also want somewhere you don’t feel completely on display while you rearrange your breastpads.
It’s also worth knowing that in those early days lunch with friends tends to take nearly a full day what with all the feeding, changing, napping (the baby, not you) and then more feeding and changing. You’ll want to be somewhere with a really relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff where you they won’t mind you lingering all afternoon chatting about poo.
Be prepared – Bear in mind that you’ll be out for at least a few hours and probably 2 feeds, so pack your bag accordingly.
Call up a few new friends – Nothing beats a leisurely lunch with some new mummy friends. You’ll welcome the company, enjoy the chance to commiserate about how ridiculously tired you are, and will probably even learn a few things.
Get the timing right – Timing is pretty tricky with new babies. Your lives revolve around nap times and feeding times, and in those early days it can take 3 or 4 hours before you even manage to find time or energy to brush your teeth, let alone get dressed to meet friends. Set an arrival ‘window’ as opposed to a fixed time so nobody feels rushed, and try to time it so that your baby drifts off to sleep just as your meal arrives.
Check out the venue beforehand – Want to know whether there is a changing table, step-free access, enough room for your buggy, a friendly atmosphere or is breastfeeding-friendly? Look up the venue on ReallyKidFriendly.com, a brand new website with baby-friendly and child-friendly places selected by parents for parents. Reading about other parents’ experiences can help you choose the perfect spot to meet up with some mummy friends and plan stress-free outings.
WHERE TO GO
There are plenty of child-friendly places around, but be warned that these places attract parents with toddlers, and the atmosphere and food often reflect that. You want to sit and snoodle with your precious little bundle, chat with some friends and enjoy nice food, not eat fish fingers (they are good though!) while protecting your baby from a sea of rampaging two-year-olds. With that in mind, we think you should avoid the places that advertise themselves as being child-friendly and instead stick to…
Gastropubs – Many gastropubs have lovely fresh food and hearty portions, and they tend to be pretty quiet during the day, so you’ll find that you and your mummy friends have plenty of room to park all the buggies (hopefully with the babies snoozing while you enjoy lunch). You’ll probably find that for the most part they’ve got disabled toilets so you can bring the buggy in with you if need be, and very good baby changing facilities. Most importantly, baby spit-up is very easily wiped down off those trendy leather sofas.
Cafes & Restaurants – Much as we love those unique little cafes, you might find it easier to stick with some big names for the first little while. Most of the chain coffee shops like Costa Coffee and the restaurant chains have a bit more space (you’ll need it!), disabled toilets, good changing facilities, and free wifi in case you want to check your email or surf the web while the baby sleeps. Some restaurant chains also have great lunch specials and 2-for-1 offers that you can download from their websites.
Breastfeeding Friendly Places – If you’re new to breastfeeding, you might find that it takes a bit of practice before you can just slip the baby against you discreetly and carry on with whatever you were doing. With that in mind, we’ve put together a nice little selection of breastfeeding friendly places here if you need some ideas.
Galleries and Museums – In the early days, babies don’t do much besides feed, sleep and poo, so you might as well do something nice for yourself. Some of the most popular museums and galleries are free, have nice restaurants and cafes, are incredibly buggy-friendly and have “baby care” rooms.
Art, Dance and Theatre “Spaces” – Some of these are really quirky and interesting, with nice cafes and even soft play areas – great if your baby is starting to roll around a bit. The atmosphere in these types of places tends to be decidedly relaxed, so nobody will mind if you hang around for hours on end talking about the sorry state of your pelvic floor. If you’re in London, the Curzon Soho and the artsdepot are particularly popular with new mums.
Shopping Centres and Department Stores – This may look like a bit of a dull inclusion, but I don’t know any mums who don’t feel completely at ease in a mall. Parking is often easy, usually with an underground area so you are sheltered from the rain while you try and work out how to unfold your lovely new buggy. Everything is incredibly buggy friendly, even for the widest side-by-side tandem. You can wander around looking at cute little baby clothes and dream about what you’ll be wearing once you’re out of post-baby-paunch clothes and into yummy mummy outfits. There are often excellent baby care rooms, discreet areas for breastfeeding, and baby friendly places to eat. A few go above and beyond – Mamas & Papas at Oxford Circus is a lovely oasis of calm for mums and mums-to-be, John Lewis always seems to get it right, and Westfield Centre has weekly Mummy Mornings with kids clothing fashion shows, pampering goody bags and scrummy food.
– Janis Curry, Co-Founder & Director of ReallyKidFriendly.com, the guide to great places for your family.
PS – For a regular heads-up about baby friendly places to go, offers and events, follow @kidfriendly_uk on Twitter, and for some insight into navigating the world with two rambunctious toddlers, follow @MumVersusKids on Twitter or tune into Audioboo.fm