Baby-Friendly Winnipeg?

November 15th, 2010 by Emma Durand-Wood

My good friend Courtney and her adorable 16 month old daughter came to visit us this past weekend. While frequent naptimes for our kids meant we didn’t get out to see too much of the city, we did get over to The Forks one afternoon and enjoyed looking around at Kite & Kaboodle and the Antique Mall in Johnston Terminal, and of course, picked up some cinnamon buns at Tall Grass Prairie. And there’s nothing like a child to make you see the city in a new light.

We were fortunate that it wasn’t too busy that afternoon, and between elevators and ramps, navigating with a stroller was a breeze.  But Courtney mentioned how she’d recently been poking around in the Kensington neighbourhood of Calgary (our old stomping grounds from our days at SAIT) and she was astounded at how stroller un-friendly it was: stairs and tight corners everywhere! (This also makes you wonder about people with limited mobility or those in wheelchairs or walkers.) And on a recent trip home to Alberta, I noticed a number of “No Strollers Allowed” signs in shop windows. This got me to thinking, what parts of Winnipeg are kid- and baby-friendly?

Before our son was old enough to go in a nice, compact umbrella stroller, I made the mistake of taking him to the mall in his “travel system” stroller (aka “Monstro”) and quickly found that I was unable to manoeuvre inside a lot of stores, and I was actually embarrassed at how much space we took up.  (Don’t worry, I never took Monstro on the bus!) But even with a much smaller umbrella stroller, I find that a lot of places just aren’t designed with parents in mind.  Even if you’re wearing your baby in a carrier or sling, thereby avoiding the stroller hassle, you definitely don’t notice how many places don’t have baby change tables until you need one. And as a new mother desperate to get out of the house every now and then, I figured out pretty quickly which places had quiet, comfortable places to nurse and which didn’t.  (St. Vital Centre’s parents’ room is amazing! They definitely know which side their bread is buttered.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect that the world should cater to me now that I have a little one in tow, I’m just saying that the reality is that parents need to and want to take their kids with them as they go about their errands, and businesses that take that into account probably attract more of those customers. I know I really appreciate the little things that make it easier to bring my baby along.

So, readers, I put the question to you – which places in our fair city are baby- and kid-friendly? What neighbourhoods do you feel welcome with a stroller in? Any places you avoid because you don’t want to get stuck changing your baby in the car? I’m curious to know your experiences.

Update: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention I Spy Winnipeg, which I came across after I wrote this post. It’s a blog devoted to “navigating Winnipeg with kids, one weekend at a time”.  Check out I Spy Winnipeg on Twitter, too.

10 Responses to “Baby-Friendly Winnipeg?”

  1. Carly says:

    As a Calgarian and mom of twins, I would agree that the Kensington area is tricky for strollers but I think it has to do more with the age of neighbourhood, not unlike Osborne or Corydon village which also are very tricky for strollers. I will say that I find there are many kid-friendly places in Calgary from coffee shops that cater to kids with play zones for them and a nice coffee area for moms, to high-end restaurants like Catch which have highchairs and kid meals, pretty good for a restaurant that is considered in the top 25 of Canada. However, I’m always wishing there was more.

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  3. Karen Dyck says:

    I agree that the parenting room facilities at St. Vital Mall are well thought out and very convenient. That, coupled with the toddler play area, made St. Vital my mall of choice when my daughter was young.
    Another place that I found very friendly when I was nursing my babe was October, in Grant Park Mall (http://www.where.ca/winnipeg/guide_listing~listing_id~3968.htm ) One day, when shopping for post-pregnancy jeans, I needed a place to nurse. When I asked for a suggestion as to where I could go with my daughter, the very kind owner of October let me nurse on a sofa by the fitting rooms in store. I was comfortable, welcomed and undisturbed.
    Needless to say, I bought some jeans too.

  4. Katie Walsh says:

    some stores just aren’t meant for kids, I’m sorry parents but when its a store where a lot of things can easily be broken or knocked over its not a place for kids, also when they’re toddlers bad parents have ruined it for the good ones, when they let their kids run around the retail store I work at and have let them tear clothes from the hangers, or touch them with their dirty hands. it takes one bad bad apple to ruin the bunch and I guess these are stores that have had bad experiences with kids. it sucks for parents who can control their children

  5. Tawny says:

    I would agree and say that St. Vital Centre is the place I go the most often with my kids. There is a family washroom (complete with kid sized facilities) and the Play Park. On Mondays I take the kids there first, tire them out and then head to the other end of the mall to Silver City for Stars N Strollers. A great kid-friendly way to actually go to a movie mommy wants to see. The lights are turned down low, but not off and the sound isn’t as loud. The baby sleeps and the pre-schooler is able to walk around and climb up and down the stairs without any angry movie goers because they are all parents like me! 😀

  6. Lina says:

    Hello ladies,

    Both Sears(@ st. vital and polo park) and the Bay (@ polo park) have a private nursing room with a changing table and a chair to nurse your baby. Polo park centre has a moms room. It is a locked room located inside the ladies washroom. You have to ask one of the staff ladies at the food court to open the door for you. I like this room because it is private and men are not allowed in there. There is a changing table and a comfy chair and ottoman to nurse.

  7. Mike says:

    My fiancee and I are foster parents to a 14 month old boy, and we are amazed time and time again how many places (I’m thinking restaurants in particular) around Winnipeg have a change table in the women’s washroom and none in the men’s. What year is it now? Oh yeah, 2011. I don’t know about other families, but in our family I change the diapers at least as often as my fiancee, and it is insulting that I often have to come back out of a washroom in a restaurant and ask my fiancee to do the changing because there’s nowhere to do it in the men’s washroom. What am I supposed to do if I’m out with our little guy by myself? We don’t even know who to complain to, but it seems to me if an establishment welcomes babies then put a change table in both washrooms (unless of course there’s a family washroom). Prime example is the Forks – family-friendly place, right? Well, a number of the restaurants there do not have a change table in the men’s washroom. It’s frustrating. Okay, rant done.

  8. Emma says:

    Good rant – totally legitimate complaint!

  9. Lynsey says:

    Lookup Babywearing. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why you would choose a stroller for baby transport.

  10. […] Park Centre (Winnipeg) – A comment on the blog Winnipeg O’ My Heart says there is a private moms’ room in the ladies’ washroom with a change table and a chair with […]

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