Breastfeeding and baby changing rooms in Nottingham came under scrutiny last week after a new mum posted a picture of one in a branch of Debenhams – which she compared to a toilet cubicle.
The story led to a debate about what it is reasonable to expect shops to provide, along with dozens of tips from mums on Facebook about where has decent facilities in Nottingham – and where doesn’t.
And some mums said there were big differences between changing rooms supplied by some of the biggest stores and shopping centres.
So we decided to put some of them to the secret shopper test with a local young mum.
Jean Simple, 24, and seven-month-old baby Jacob, of Derby Road in Nottingham, regularly head into the centre to go shopping and attend WoMum baby and toddler group, which Jean helps to manage.
Jean said: “We regularly meet up with friends and go for coffee in Café Sobar or Revs as they are both family friendly and have great changing facilities.
“I’ve never really had a problem finding somewhere to go in the centre but as a whole Nottingham is not a very baby-friendly city.”
Although Jean says there is a lot on offer for adults and students, she says activities for babies and toddlers are harder to find and often involve travelling further.
Jean said: “When you have a baby you always have to be prepared.
“Before making trips I find out where the nearest toilets and changing facilities are and plan my trip around that.
“When places have good facilities it makes things so much easier and you remember where they are for next time.”
John Lewis – 3/5
Our first baby changing stop was John Lewis, in the Victoria Centre, which has a family room on the first floor featuring a changing table, wall chair and adult toilet.
Jean said: “The room is quite small and a little cramped so if you have a pushchair – especially a double – it will be a tight fit.
“The good thing is it is fairly clean and has a toilet so you can use that while you are watching your baby.
“I would score it a 3/5 – it is reasonable but I have seen better.”
Victoria Centre 5/5
A short walk from John Lewis are the Victoria Centre main facilities, also on the first floor, which feature TV screens, breast feeding booths and a spacious changing area.
Jean said: “These are definitely the best ones I have been to.
“It’s clean, there are lots of supplies and there’s even a microwave to heat up food.”
The room has three separate changing mats and free nappy sacks.
Jean said: “I like how the breast feeding area is private and there’s plenty of space for buggies.
“This one definitely scores a 5/5.”
Marks and Spencer 3.5/5
Marks and Spencer, on Albert Street, has baby changing facilities in its men’s, women’s and disabled toilets, as well as a separate feeding room.
Jean said: “Space-wise the room is even smaller than John Lewis’ – but the fact it has more than one makes it better.
“It is clean, well-equipped and easy to find – but there is no microwave or supplies.
“This one scores a 3.5/5.”
The Broadmarsh has a choice of two family rooms and offers feeding areas, TV screens and comfortable seating.
Jean said: “This room is very big and again, has a toilet in the room which is a big plus.
“It has machines so you can buy any changing equipment you need and the chairs look comfortable to breastfeed in.
“It’s also great that it has things to entertain older kids – but it’s not as spacious as intu Victoria so I’d score it 4/5.”
Cafe Sobar 5/5
Cafe Sobar, on Friar Lane, is a regular meeting point for Jean and her friends due to its easy accessibility and well-equipped changing room.
Jean said: “The baby room here is great – it smells fresh, it has complimentary supplies and it’s all on one floor which is helpful if you have a buggy.
“The cafe is a great place for mums to rest while they feed and there are also baby-friendly drinks on the menu.
“For me it’s a 5/5.”