Enjoy our new series, Out & About, focusing on accessibility and suitability of various public places in Auckland for babies and small children.
In search of a mattress that would fit our vintage cot, we ended up deciding on NatureBaby. Interesting aside, almost all mattresses sold in chain stores are now the American size mattress (as opposed to what is usually called the continental size mattress) and won’t fit many older New Zealand cots. We have the cot that my sisters and I all slept in and wanted to avoid freighting charges so a family trip to Newmarket was decided on. We set off bright and early, planning that CJ would have a morning nap in the car and headed on our way.
Having worked in Newmarket in the past, I did know that it’s not the most family friendly destination. Parking can be a challenge (although there is a nice parking building on Nuffield Street, as well as a couple of other parking garages and on-street parking) and many of the boutiques are not easily push-chair/wheel-chair accessible as they have stairs in the front. Having purchased our cot mattress and returned it to the car, it was ticking round to that time where CJ was due to be fed. With our feeding issues, I prefer somewhere private to breast-feed so we tootled off to 277, the Westfield shopping mall, in order to feed.
Entering in at ground level, we consulted the directory to find the parents’ room. Seeing that there was one located on the ground floor and one located on the food court level, I decided that I’d try the ground floor room and sent Papa M on his way to spend his vouchers. Rounding the corner to look for the parents’ room, I realized that “room” was overselling it a bit.
Maybe I’ve been spoiled by some truly fantastic parent rooms but this area was significantly underwhelming. Entering through what basically amounts to a pool gate, changing tables are on view to everyone that walks past. As this is off the main thoroughfare to both male and female bathrooms, and one of the car parking levels, it’s a significant amount of people. Not to mention the chilly breeze flowing in every time someone entered through the doors from the carpark. Not an ideal situation in which to be stripping the pants of your wriggly baby.
Our first priority, however, was to feed and so I meandered down to the two cubicles at the end of the area, choosing the cubicle at the end and wheeling the stroller in. Well, trying to. The cubicle isn’t actually large enough to fit the stroller in without pushing out the curtain. I imagine that if you had a small umbrella-style stroller, you might manage to squeeze in. The long, narrow room also seemed to act as a sort of wind and aural tunnel, meaning that we were still feeling the breeze from the carpark and hearing lots of noises. CJ couldn’t settle into breast-feeding at all and started to have an epic meltdown. Luckily, since starting mixed feeding, I always carry an emergency bottle and was able to get a feed into him that way while he kept his eyes peeled for what was making those sounds.
I thought that maybe I had just chosen the wrong room, that the one near the food court might be better and so once CJ was finished, we met up with Papa M and headed up to the food court to suss the food situation and change CJ. No such luck, unfortunately. What we found could basically be summed up as an extended disabled toilet.
While this room was large enough to fit two adults and a stroller, it was only able to be used by one party at a time. In a high-traffic area like the food court, this was not ideal; we had people knocking on the door for the five minutes we were in there. Thumbs up that it had an adult toilet in the room (something that the other parents’ area did not) and a door for privacy but thumbs down that there was no chair or cubicle for feeding. Other mothers may be able to feed in the food court area, but that’s not a situation that works for us and this was disappointing. Thoroughly disheartened by our experience, we decided to leave the mall and head over to Nuffield Street to eat instead. We had a delicious meal at Tasca, who were incredibly family-friendly and we’d highly recommend. Knowing now that we’ll have to bottle-feed during our trips to Newmarket, we’ll skip the mall next time and just enjoy ourselves some delicious lunch with friendly staff members who smile at our little one.
As parents we know we need to be flexible; changing the odd nappy on the back seat of the car or closing ourselves off in a bedroom at a friend’s house to feed can be par for the course. We just expected better from Westfield, given that they own many shopping malls both domestically and internationally. Making parents’ rooms a more comfortable place to hang out ensures that you gain more of our time in your mall, and therefore more of our dollars. While your parent rooms at 277 may work for some, they are not ideal during winter, for fussy breastfeeders or if you had an infant and a toddler as there is nothing to keep them entertained.
A solid C for effort, Westfield 277 Newmarket.