What makes a café family friendly?
In my mind, there are a few things that contribute to a family friendly coffee shop. Ideally, it’s easy to park – or can be combined with a pushchair friendly walk, it’s pram friendly – i.e. not too many steps to navigate and space between tables. It’s great if there are good baby changing facilities – again, clean and spacious being the main requirements. Most of the options listed here also have a children’s menu or are flexible to tweaks/ordering off menu. My daughter is the fussiest eater imaginable so I often order off-menu and most good places oblige without batting an eyelid.
Most importantly though, I’ve always found that if the staff are welcoming and friendly, you can deal with pretty much anything. Some of my favourite places on maternity leave weren’t necessarily pushchair friendly – but that doesn’t matter so much if you know in advance – especially once your baby is old enough to go in a highchair (ample numbers of easy access, clean high chairs is also essential!).
One of the greatest joys of maternity leave is the cake dates… I’ve probably romanticised them a bit in my head… because sometimes it feels like a mammoth achievement drinking a hot drink whilst it’s still hot… so knowledge is power!
The original idea for this particular blog post came through a conversation with the lovely Jo at Boom Magazine. If you’re not familiar with Boom, it’s a fabulous print magazine and website – an essential handbook for families. Particularly useful is their guide to what’s on for families and kids. Thank you to Jo’s help in compiling these ideas. It’s been sitting in my drafts for a few months so please do let me know if anything is out of date.
Family Friendly Cafés in Belper
Book Café, Belper
A sister venue to the Derby location, Book Café Belper has plenty of free parking. There’s disabled access via ramp near the petrol station and a disabled loo with baby changing facilities on the ground floor and plenty of high chairs available. There are several tables on the ground floor – although the majority of tables are upstairs.
My coffee and cake came to over £7 although both were really good quality – and my Bakewell blondie was incredible – deliciously dense and not too sweet. Kids lunches are £6.50 and ordering can be via an app which can be a god-send when you’re with kids.
Reunion is very family friendly. There’s level access to entry – so pushchair and wheelchair friendly and there are baby changing facilities. There’s a kids menu and they can adapt dishes, and serve cute babycinos etc. They have a book library including kids books and look out for a selection of wooden toys coming soon! Also dog friendly.
One of my all time favourite places in Belper. I wouldn’t take a horde of kids (because it’s too nice!) but this is the perfect place for a civilised Mummy-baby date. There are large baby changing facilities downstairs – and they even provide various sized nappies, nappy nags, wipes and cream! Attentive table service and truly delicious menus – and very dogfriendly. Read my review of Nourish.
Dot Teas Emporium, Belper
This is one that I haven’t actually visited myself – but was recommended when I originally started canvasing ideas back when this was a joint project with Boom Magazine. Dot Teas was described as welcoming and always making a fuss of children and offering great lunches for toddlers. There’s a small play den which means you might be able to sit and enjoy a hot drink (I’m not promising anything!) and some outside space and community events.
Railway Tea Rooms
Tucked away up a side street, is the Railway Tea Rooms. Regulars describe this as a “gem of a place” with friendly, welcoming staff. It’s not at all bougee but a fairly traditional tearoom/café – the cakes look very good.
Two real draws of the Railway Tea Rooms for families – firstly combine it with watching the trains, there’s also a separate room upstairs if you’d prefer to be out of the way. This can also be booked in advance for small groups – perfect for a Mummy meet up. Just be aware it’s up a flight of steep stairs – but once you’re up there there’s a spacious bathroom with good baby changing facilities. Phone the tea rooms to book- otherwise the room is open for general customer use. There’s also colouring and toys for children. In warmer months sit in the rear courtyard which has step free access.
I Should Cocoa
This bijou café serves delicious food, artisan chocolates and milkshakes and was recommended as “very patient with young indecisive grandkids”. They’ve got lovely baby changing facilities in the ground floor toilet. Highchairs available. It’s a bit small for for prams but very welcoming, helpful staff. Also dog friendly. Yard at the back for warmer months.
Park Life Café
It isn’t cheap but this new tea room is a great option to combine with Belper River Gardens which are recommended in my Free Days Out guide.
Somewhere you might not consider is Café G on King Street. Friendly, welcoming staff. Food is all freshly made from scratch by owner Murat and his team. Try their Mediterranean breakfast or a delicious flatbread. Baby changing facilities, high chairs and room for prams/pushchairs. Small selection of books by the till.
Family friendly places just outside Belper:
Croots Farm Shop
This cute, family run farm shop has horses to look at and a lovely children’s play area.
The Spanker, Nether Heage
Was recommended for coffee and cake, breastfeeding friendly, family friendly and has a cute play area.
Spotted Calf in Holbrook
A community run pub serving fresh food and lovely cakes.
I hope this guide to family friendly cafes in Belper has been useful. Let me know if you’d like to see similar guides for the rest of Derbyshire.