St Ives Shopping Village (near Harris Farm) – 166 Mona Vale Rd, St Ives NSW 2075

Overall: Small but has the basics. Nappy change, feed, rest, toilet. No microwave.

Good Points: Automatic push-button sliding door. Bright, colourful murals on the walls. Nappy disposal bin plus general rubbish bin. Water cooler. Comfortable armchair. Toilet cubicle. Single change bench. Sink and hand dryer.

Bad Points: Quite small. No microwave. Couldn’t see any extra powerpoints.

We arrived at the centre a bit early, so went for a wander on our own to see what we could find in the way of parent rooms (unassisted). This one we found down a hallway near Harris Farm, with signs from the roof at the front of the corridor pointing to toilets. It wasn’t until after we came back out that we realised the sign has a small symbol indicating a parent room. It’s not the usual symbol of a baby, or a parent leaning over a change table, but two people with a child in the middle. When you’re in a hurry, it just looks like a symbol for regular male and female bathrooms. Take note of that next time you’re at St Ives Shopping Village.

We headed down the corridor and turned right, to find the parent room at the end of the hall. At the start it looks promising, with a green push-button automatic door which is frosted for privacy. On the inside, though, it’s a little small. It’s pretty and does all the basics comfortably, but it is small. You could only fit one pram in here at a time, so it’s definitely worth noting where the other parent rooms are in the centre.

The custom built change table is on the left of the room. The colourful murals on the walls provide a nice distraction to little ones from the task of having nappies changed. The sink is on the edge of the table, with a sensor tap so you don’t have to physically touch anything to get water. Love that! There’s also a stack of paper towel along the edge of the sink, between the wall.

We were particularly impressed with the hand dryer in this parent room. Ordinarily these things are loud, scaring the bejeebers out of anyone nearby – especially kids! But this one is very very quiet, and was chosen for this feature. Honestly, it’s fabulous. We’s love to see these replace all parent rooms where there are hand dryers (especially those jet-engine sounding dyson ones – OMG!).

The toilet cubicle is quite snug, with just enough room for one toilet. There’s no way a pram will fit in here, so just be aware of that if you or your little ones need the loo. Keep an eye on the main door!

Later on, when we met up with centre staff, we spoke with them about the function of the parent rooms and the issue of privacy for feeding. The chair in this parent room is very comfortable, with arm rests at a good height for feeding. However, there isn’t a curtain or anything of the like to ensure privacy. We were told that the building is quite old, so the space they have to work with is quite limited. Installing a curtain or something along those lines would take up even more space in an already snug room. It was said that most parents are comfortable these days to feed in public, with a covering of their own. Hmmmm…..I’m not sure I agree with this. I much prefer to find a parent room to feed my little ones, than sit in public feeding with a cover. For me, and for many other parents, it’s a special time to bond with your baby and also give them some quiet time while they feed. Plus I just found it felt easier to feed in a private room than in a public place like a cafe, regardless of whether or not I had a covering. In relation to this parent room, I guess my point is make sure you have a covering on hand. The door doesn’t lock, so you may get the door opening when another family needs the room. Just a heads up. In our parent room travels, we have come across some rooms that have automatic doors which can be locked from the inside with the press of a button. This might be something the centre could look at adding to the rooms.

Anyway, back to what is in the parent room. Next to the armchair is the water cooler and nappy disposal bin. The bin is too large to fit underneath the change bench, which is why it’s against the far wall. This is a good compromise. Either have a smaller bin underneath the bench, which might overflow and stink the place out, or have a bigger bin against the wall. We like the bigger bin. Just keep an eye on toddler hands though (curious little things).

What do you think of this parent room? Have you been to St Ives Shopping Village with your children? Did you find it easy to locate the parent rooms?

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