Sunday, 24 February 2013

John Lewis, Oxford Street

A sink alongside the baby change unit. Huzzar!
Ah, John Lewis! Everyone knows John Lewis in Oxford Street is the place to go for new mums, don't they? Don't they? Er... nope. I thought I knew John Lewis pretty well as I'd spend six months of my pregnancy buying up their store. But once again, I'm the last to know that it's famed for its baby-friendly facilities.

Throughout the store, signs point you in the direction of the "Parents Room" on the fourth floor where they apparently have a rest area for exhaused parents (are there any other kind?), private nursing booths and excellent baby change facilities. I say apparently because on the two occasions I've tried to use the Parents' Room, there's been a queue for the nursing booths. (I'll not get into the discussion of who on earth  queues for a nursing booth... evidently other people's babies are more polite than Cosmo...)

So what to do? Find a comfy bed and get on with it? Tempting but no. I'll let you in on a little secret... John Lewis has an un-signposted Parents' Room on the fifth floor, which due to it's un-signpostedness has plenty of room. You don't have a completely private booth, but you have a screened off area with comfy chairs and a table. On the other side of the screen there's an area for bottle feeding with bottle warming facilities - how nice is that?

It doesn't stop there. The baby changing area is probably the best I've seen. Not as plush as Harrods, but very well designed with a sink alongside. Hurray for not having to pick up your baby with pooey hands!

This Parents' Room is alongside the cafe / restaurant 'The Place to Eat'. This is one of the best places for an incompetent mother to grab a bite. Why you ask? For one very good reason: the staff always offer to carry your tray. Nowhere else in London has someone offered to carry my tray. Staff in empty restaurants have watched with blank stares as  I precariously balance a bottle of water and a croissant on a tray crashing the Bugaboo into chair after chair. Not so here.

"Can I help you to your seat with that?"
"Yes, surely you can, kind sir, thanking you kindly."

Such a small detail can not only alter an incompetent mother's decision on what to have for lunch (starter, lunch and pudding? Hey, I'm breastfeeding don't you know...) but whether to have lunch  at all. So three cheers for John Lewis. We'll be back.

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