Travelling with a child is often a daunting task. It’s more than just looking for the right activities that your kids can partake in, or whether the restaurants serve up nutritious yet delicious meals made specifically with mini-you in mind.
Ever since I’ve become a mom, I find myself checking if the place I’m headed to has one, if not of all, of these facilities in place: a baby/nursing room, women only/family parking spots and stroller-friendly walkways. A breastfeeding-friendly restaurant is an added bonus – this is a story for another time, I promise!
Now let’s talk about a facility that every shopping mall needs to have: a baby/nursing room. With the rise in breastfeeding advocacy in the country, a comfortable, and more importantly, well maintained baby room is highly sought after. Why not just nurse in public, you ask? Well, for one, a lot of locals are still trying to wrap their heads around mothers who breastfeed in public. Yes, you could probably use a nursing cover, but really, it shouldn’t be a prerequisite to be able to feed your child as and when they want to be fed.
I have also heard horror stories of nursing mothers, with or without covers, being shoo-ed away by security guards because of “public indecency”. It’s bizarre, but it happens. So where do these mothers find sanctuary? The nursing room, of course.
Pro Tip #1: If you’re at these following restaurants, they are breastfeeding-friendly and will provide you with nursing aprons from Lilie Pilie for your comfort: Artisan Coffee Bar, Marmalade Café, Stuff Your Face Café and Paddington House of Pancakes.
Most shopping centres within the Kuala Lumpur city centre are readily equipped with baby rooms, but they are definitely not all made equal. Some are shoddy; some are ill-equipped – so please steel yourself for the possibility of encountering a sub-par facility.
That said, there are properties that go out of their way to offer moms (and dads by extension) an easy breezy shopping experience with their young ones. My personal favourites are KLCC Shopping Centre, Bangsar Village II, The School @ Jaya One and ISETAN departmental stores.
In fact, KLCC has recently renovated one of its washroom areas to better cater to families with children. The new and improved Parents Room, located on the Concourse Level near Maybank, is spacious and able to cater to more parents in need. Private breastfeeding rooms, as well as comfy plush chairs and sofas are just some of the frills it has in place. All the equipment you need are there to make sure your child has a clean diaper and is fed by the end of your visit there.
Alternatively, you can head to ISETAN KLCC’s baby room on Level 2. Be warned though, any nursing room inside an ISETAN departmental store is located within the Children’s section, where rows and rows of toys may distract your kids from your task at hand. You may end up having to chase after a toddler with a full diaper down the aisle.
Next up is a fairly new addition to the many parking lots in Malaysia: women-only or family parking. There was a point in time where crime against women, well crime happening in parking lots in general, was rampant. A number of parking management took the initiative to create such lots to make lone women or women with children feel safe. The best bit of all is that you get to park near the entrance. It may sound like we mothers are just being lazy by not wanting to walk far, but really, have you tried pushing a stroller with one hand and carrying your groceries with the other – all while trying to fish your keys out of your handbag? Yes, the struggle is real and it makes us easy targets. This is why I enjoy going to places like Publika and The School @ Jaya – I get to enjoy such privileges! They also host many child-friendly stores and activities to boot. What’s not to love?
Last but not least, the question of ‘to stroller or not to stroller’. I personally feel there is a place and time for strollers, and Kuala Lumpur city sidewalks are not one of them. Uneven and sometimes just downright missing (re: construction), walking with your child in a stroller is just not feasible. I saw first-hand a family crossing the busy roads of Kuala Lumpur: dad carrying (yes, carrying) the stroller, while mom was clutching her bub tightly.
Consider ‘babywearing’ your child if you are planning to go about exploring the city for its sights and sound – it’s great for your sanity and plus, you’ll get a good workout from it.
If you’re planning to just be within the confinements of a shopping centre, then by all means, whip out the stroller. However, do note that such places can get very packed during the weekends and public holidays, so please be prepared to steer your stroller like a professional race car driver to avoid the human traffic.
Pro Tip #2: Find your local babywearing group on Facebook. If all fails, there are forums like TheBabyWearer.com to guide beginners. For Malaysia, consider joining Facebook groups like Gendong 101 to find out more about babywearing and its benefits. They even have certified babywearing experts on hand to answer your queries.
More from Fie
More from Zafigo: