17 January 2007
I find that the facilities available for babies when shopping vary widely. I'm therefore compiling a list of some of the facilities available for babies and young children when out shopping. This is the first one which starts with my home town of Coventry.
There are some good baby facilities in Coventry, but you really do have to know where to find them. In general then I think Coventry Town Centre is not particularly baby friendly.
Places to Park
Getting a baby in and out of the car can be very difficult if there is no space between you and the next car, not to mention dangerous if you have to put the pushchair up in the route of passing cars. So parent and toddler spaces can make it much easier. These are designed for those with babies or toddlers, some people seam to think that having a teenager in the car counts as a child. If the child doesn't need a push chair or similar and doesn't need to be lifted in and out of the car then you do not need to be using a parent and child parking space.
The only town centre car park that I know of with parent and baby / toddler parking spaces is the Lower Precinct car park. This has only about half a dozen spaces, so chances of getting a space are slim. This is reached from Junction 7 of the ring road (the same junction as the Sky Dome and Sky Dome Arena). Drive straight past the sky dome arena, and then turn left at the small roundabout.
WARNING: See an updated entry on the Belgrade Plaza Car Park: Update to: Baby Friendly Shopping - Coventry Town Centre | Belgrade Plaza Car Park.
The Belgrade Plaza Car Park (formally Leigh Mills Car Park) does not have special parking spaces, but it is sometimes possible to find an end space, and it does have good walkways around the cars, but it's a bit further out of the town centre. This is reached from junction 9 of the ring-road, but the exit takes you back on at junction 8. Leave the ring road at junction 9, but then take the slip road as though you were going back onto the ring-road in an anti-clockwise direction, and the car park is from the left hand lane.
END WARNING: See an updated entry on the Belgrade Plaza Car Park: Update to: Baby Friendly Shopping - Coventry Town Centre | Belgrade Plaza Car Park.
Baby Changing Facilities in the Town
There are very good baby changing facilities downstairs in the lower precinct by the entrance to the indoor market. These are spacious and available to male and female parents / carers.
There are also baby changing facilities in the West Orchards Shopping Centre.
Getting around shopping Centres and larger shops
The West Orchards shopping centre does have lift / stair free access but this can mean having to go quite a long way further, particularly at the entrance near the Virgin Megastore. The lifts in the central area are very busy and you may have to queue for a while to be able to use them.
The lower precinct also has lifts, but only at certain places. You can also get between the upper and lower floors using the lifts inside Next (just inside the entrance). Boots also has a lift to reach the lower sales floor where their baby goods are found.
Woolworths has a lift, but this is not obvious. To use the lift inside Woolworths you need to head to the back of the store, and find the door bell next to the double doors. Someone will come along and operate the goods lifts for you. These are not particularly pleasant, but better than trying to struggle up and down the stairs.
Where to Eat
Places with high chairs, baby changing and non-smoking.
If you are with someone else then the food court at the top of West Orchards is quite good. If it's just you and your baby then it is very difficult to carry your baby, food and try and find a place to sit. Some of the places have smaller meals for children, but the jacket potatoes are almost as cheap as children's meals and popular with our child.
Debenhams restaurant has high chairs and baby / child menus. They do not have their own baby changing facility, but it is only a short walk away from the shopping centre toilets. I did have a problem with the high chairs when I first tried the restaurant, and none of the staff knew how to use the straps. I think I've worked it out now, but they weren't as helpful as they could have been. You should be able to get a member of staff to help carry your food over, but you will have to ask as like most places it's rarely offered even if they see you struggle.
The Woolworths restaurant has baby changing facilities and high chairs, but you'll have to get someone to operate the lift for you (as per shopping on the lower sales floor).
BHS has a restaurant, but it is unsuitable for babies or young children due to the large flight of stairs that go up to it.
As well as the Adams and The Early Learning Centre there is a baby shop near to City Arcade. Unfortunately you have to go upstairs to get to part of the shop, but that is due to the layout of the building.
Although Coventry does have some facilities for babies and young children it is let down in quite a number of areas.
If you disagree with any of this review, or have your own suggestions please leave a Comment.