There are three things that came out of the United Kingdom that have changed my life: Sherlock, Harry Potter, and Outlander. But there's something else stirring over in Europe that caught my attention and there's no question that the United States needs to follow suit. Last year, a new kind of cafe opened in the U.K., one that the U.S. sorely needs: a breastfeeding cafe.
The Milk Lounge was opened by owner Charlotte Purdie after she gave birth to her son and felt uncomfortable nursing him in her neighborhood coffee shops. Two years ago, she began plans for opening a unique cafe that caters to both moms and dads, and offers a nonjudgmental place to feed their children.
Yes, it’s geared toward breastfeeding moms in the sense that it’s a cafe where breastfeeding a child in public is encouraged. But it’s so much more than that. Purdie encourages both parents who are nursing as well as bottle-feeding to come and enjoy the cafe. In fact, she likes to refer to it as an “infant feeding cafe.”
There's a feeding room where outlets are just an arm’s reach away for pumping moms and provides everything a nursing or pumping mom needs from pitchers of water to a play area where siblings can be occupied. They even provide wait service for parents who are nursing or bottle-feeding.
Basically, The Milk Lounge is a place to take your breastfeeding/formula-feeding/solids-eating child and not feel shamed for what they’re doing: eating.
But that's not all. One of the rooms in the building is designated for group classes such as postnatal yoga and breastfeeding education. There's also an abundance of toddler activities throughout the cafe, and each store will have its own sensory room—the newest cafe has one that will be Garden-themed. Even the high contrast black and white walls are baby-friendly.
Moms with babies and toddlers on solid food can even put together a meal of fresh purees and control everything from ingredients to temperature. The cafe accommodates different diets for both parent and child and there isn’t any awkwardness of messy high chair clean-up as can be experienced in traditional restaurants.
Basically, The Milk Lounge is a place to take your breastfeeding/formula-feeding/solids-eating child and not feel shamed for what they’re doing: eating. Toss in some lactation cookies or a baby massage class and you pretty have the perfect cocktail for a stress-free outing. A place where both parents—yes, dads are welcome too—can come and relax, change diapers in a clean restroom, and interact with other parents without a cross examination.
Hopefully, the United States is paying attention and we'll see more of these types of baby-friendly cafes start popping up around the country. It would just be one more step in improving new parent support. And as any new parent knows, we'll take all we can get.