London with a baby

No, I haven’t had it yet! Still very much pregnant and very much fed up with it…. But a facebook post from a friend visiting London with her 6-month old made me feel like I should dig into my memory banks and retrieve some of my “wisdom” on trekking about London with a baby. The post from my friend mentioned having to feed and change her baby in the foyer of a bank and made me realise that not everyone knows where the baby facilities are. So, here we go…

Your first and most obvious port of call is coffee shops. I’m ashamed to say that the major chains score higher on the baby changing facilities than those lovely independant ones you like so much. Why am I ashamed to say that? I love Starbucks! The red cups and gingerbread lattes truly make it feel like Christmas. Their raspberry frappucinos were the only thing I wanted when I had morning sickness.  And the coffee is so yummy. I know certain coffee-snobby friends will be hitting the “report abuse” button right now but hey, I like Starbucks and I will admit it. Have just admitted it, even. And they have good changing facilitites.

The downside to this is that you have to buy something. This is not like sneaking into a pub or McDonalds to use the loos and then walking nonchanantly out. When you have a screaming baby and you leave the disabled loo smelling like the subway at Elephant & Castle, it is very difficult to be either nonchalant or subtle. So, you generally have to buy something. The upside to this is that you may then be able to sit down and enjoy your drink in relative comfort. Some of the best times I had with Roo as a baby were when he fell asleep at a convenient time and I could just sit in a coffee shop and enjoy my (decaff, soya milk, extra sugar) caramel macchiato. Coffee shops also tend to be fairly breastfeeding friendly, especially if you get one of those comfy chairs, so for a couple of quid you’re sorted.

Of course, this time round such things will be a distant memory. Unless the impossible happens and Roo sleeps at the same time as the baby, our cafe trips will continue to be less of the “sip coffee, read trash magazine” variety and more of the “WANT MORE PINK CAKE MUMMY!” variety. We had a successful trip to a local cafe the other day, where Roo and his friend Ayla sat quietly for almost half an hour, eating all the icing off their pink cakes. But you can just imagine what happened next. High jinks doesn’t begin to describe it…

But, back to babies! So, you don’t have the time or money to faff around in Starbucks. Where next to change your baby? I suggest you head to the nearest free tourist attraction. In London, you are never far away from a rat, a Starbucks (see above), a member of Madness (Camden only) OR a museum of some sort. And free museums – even the smaller ones – tend to have disabled access and baby changing. The photo above is of Roo and his cousin Leo outside Tate Britain at four and seven months respectively. They did not appreciate the entrants for that year’s Turner Prize but they did both get breastfed and changed there. And to be honest, their mothers didn’t really appreciate the Turner Prize either. I don’t really “get” art…. Other centralish museums include National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Tate Modern and if you’re in the city, the Museum of London. Of course, if you’re in the vicinity of the South Bank, there’s the ever- reliable  Royal Festival Hall , with its free changing facilities, loads of room to breast feed and its policy of letting mothers hang out in there all day without paying…

But what about if you’re stuck in Oxford St? I’m sure I’ve posted about this before but Mamas and Papas at the top of Regent St has a lovely feeding room (with rocking chair) and changing room. Mothercare at Marble Arch also has changing facilities. Then there’s the major stores  – House of Fraser, Debenhams, M&S, BHS and John Lewis all have toilets/changing rooms.  Don’t go into the shoe shop I used to work in and demand to use the staff toilets, otherwise your child will wet themselves on the shop floor. That cuts no mustard with the Floor Manager, trust me. Especially not when there’s a perfectly good department store next door. If you’re shopping somewhere more ….designed e.g. Westfield, you’ll find feeding rooms and changing there too (and I LOVED the ones at Westfield). I haven’t been to the new Westfield in Stratford (it always bothers me that it’s not called Eastfield) but I’d think it’d be much the same. I have fed on a shop floor before (Monsoon in Oxford St) and didn’t get kicked out, but it wasn’t ideal. I also fed on Bethnal Green station, which was also not ideal due to a strange Eastern European man trying to befriend me….

And I think that’s all I have to say on the subject of baby London for now. Particularly because a little boy who is definitely not a baby anymore (“No baby – Percy!”) is nagging me to go to “Number One shop” and buy “teddy bear crisps”. He may also be under the impression that he’s a small green tank engine, but that’s a whooooole other story…

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3 Responses to London with a baby

  1. Pingback: The mobile milk bar – breastfeeding around town | London With a Toddler

  2. so strange this just popped up in my feed reader and I had to search to see if you were pg again!!

    • katese11 says:

      Ha ha, I think my last post makes it abundantly clear that I’m not! I did a whole load of editing on this post – maybe that’s why it popped up?

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