Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nursing/Baby rooms in major shopping centres

So… we were at the doctors on Sunday morning for little jj’s next 6-in-1 jap. Everything went well and she weighs a nice 7.9 kilos, slightly at an above average growth. Since the last 4 months of our visit to Dr Lee, he said that little jj has been growing at an average 1 inch (length) per month and he estimates that she will be somewhere around 9 kilos ++ by the time she reaches 1 year of age… this, coming from a doctor who estimated so accurately that the little munchkin would reach my height when he turns 9 (the time of estimation was during his 1 month-old jap! Imagine…).

Overall, since little jj is breastfed, Dr Lee mentioned that she won’t be considered overweight even if she reaches 12 kilos at her 1st birthday. Amazing, isn’t it?

Talking about breasfeeding, I’ve been long since keeping some stuff for a review of nursing/baby rooms in major shopping centres around the Klang Valley. Opps… but this will exclude KLCC, Pavillion, Lot 10 and Starhill as madame toughcookie has not been around those places since the birth of little jj, partly because there is nothing there that I can’t get elsewhere and also due to the fact that madame thinks it is a little too far-offish with bad traffic.

Ok, the toughcookie is a little tough in her review because she has a sticky baby who not only prefer to starve than be fed in a cold and unfamiliar environment, but also dislikes crammy places with crying babies as the cries is considered infectious. So here goes…

1. Sunway Pyramid

What I love about this shopping centre is their consideration towards us mommies and our breastfed babies. Why??... because their baby rooms are located at almost every toilet stops and at every level. Therefore, when your baby gets hungry (on demand feeding), you don’t have to scramble your way to look for the rooms, you just need to walk to your nearest toilet stop and there it is…

Toughcookie likes:
  • Just one press of a button and the entrance door automatically opens – promoting hygiene whereby there’s no need to touch the door knob; a good safety measure as kids on tow will not be able to play with the door since the switch is too high for a child to reach; easy on mommies alone with their baby as she can push the stroller, push the button and door opens without the hassle of pushing your way through the door, holding it while pulling the baby stroller through it.
  • Spacious area with long and wide counter-top with large sink, soap & baby shampoo dispenser and water dispenser (to make that bottle of milk)
  • A small play area for your other little kids on tow.
  • A nice small room to nurse your baby in private (with own lockable door)
  • A long bench for mommies to sit while waiting or even to nurse baby in the open.
  • The wide counter-top and waiting bench could also be used to change your babies if the changing-table is being used.
  • Room is large enough to accommodate mommies, babies and 2-3 strollers.
Toughcookie dislikes:
  • The diaper-changing area comes only in those tables attached to the wall (where you’d need to pull it down). There is only ONE table and it’s hygiene questionable. The table is not wide enough for you to place baby’s toiletries like diaper cream or wet tissues thus, someone must be able to help you out unless baby is very relaxed on the hard, uncomfortable table.
  • The nursing room comes only in 1 unit… and since it is a room on its own, how do you know that the person locked in it is not the cleaning lady sleeping?
  • The room is so clearly lit and not a relaxing environment for both mommy and baby during feeding.
  • The air-condition is super duper cold, unfriendly to babies who always seeks warmth and comfort, and I don’t see the use of baby soap and shampoo with such a cold temperature in the room (how do you bathe a baby in the cold?)
JJo 426 - Share on OviJJo 425 - Share on Ovi
top pix: as seen from the long bench - the big
semi-auto door and play area
bottom pix: the one juggling at the diaper-changing pull-down table,
with help from the little munchkin.

OVERALL VERDICT – 4 cookies from toughcookie, for comfort, cleanliness and accessibility.

2. Mid Valley
For a shopping mall that claims itself as the longest shopping mall in Asia, this must be the worst modern shopping mall. Why do I say that? Well… for its 5km length, you would struggle with a hungry baby while looking for the reception counter at one end, the receptionist telling you that there are only 2 nursing rooms – 1 in Jusco and 1 in Carrefour. We were at Kenny Rogers and the walk was extremely frustrating.

The nearest stop was supposedly at Carrefour’s. However, I was shocked that it was situated so much further towards the other wing. Thank god we were at the same floor. If you were elsewhere in the mall, I’d say, good luck to you.

Toughcookie likes: (Carrefour’s nursing room)
  • Nothing.
Toughcookie dislikes:
  • There wasn’t any air-conditioning nor was there any ventilation! It was so warm that not only madame dearest was sweating from the long frustrating walk, little jj was sweating from the many discomfort upon entering the small room.
  • The room reeks of the smell of urine (I don’t know why – was there no proper bin for diapers? Was there nobody to attend to the cleanliness of the room? Or was it due to the lack of air ventilation?)
I sat at the couch in the room (while another mommy was behind the curtain, feeding her baby) trying to make little jj compromise on the situation as she was hungry. But, being a baby, compromising may not be something she is willing to give. Hence, loud shrilling cry made madame toughcookie leave the room in search for other options whilst at the same time, cursing Carrefour for providing such low standards of cleanliness and hygiene in their baby room.

Toughcookie likes: (Jusco’s nursing room)
  • Clean, neat area.
Toughcookie dislikes:
  • Room is an open space just next to the ladies’ room. Hence, you can imagine the stench coming from next door.
  • No proper signage.
  • Little jj was all angry from being hungry and no amount of coaxing can make her drink from mommy’s ample bosoms, especially when ladies coming out of the ladies’ room, all took a peep at us, wondering what the hell is mommy doing not pacifying her baby.
Carrefour - 0 cookie from toughcookie for the horrible stench, heaty room, unhygienic room, poor directional signage and poor location.
Jusco - 2 cookies from toughcookie for the stench coming from next door ladies' room, its 'open' concept allowing people to look in and inconsiderate location.
Mid Valley - 0 cookie awarded for such lack of community service in providing a comfortable and clean baby room for such a lengthy walk across the huge mall. They should at least provide an area at every toilet stops, with an attendant to see through the cleanliness of the rooms. Although they claimed they have appointed baby rooms in their website, their receptionists are saying otherwise.

3. 1 Utama
The first time we visited 1 Utama was when little jj just turned 2 months old. Therefore, she wasn’t that choosy or cranky in public as she slept most of the time. Furthermore, there is something about 1 Utama that everytime we come here to shop, she would be at her best behaviour.

Since our first visit was spent mostly at the old wing, we visited the nursing room in Jusco’s Children Department, Level 1. The room is large – with 2 changing tables, a couch at the entrance, and a few sections of the room fitted with curtains for mommies to breastfeed their babies in private.

Toughcookie likes:
  • None
Toughcookie dislikes:
  • The nursing room is just next to a storage area. Box cartons are arranged so close to the room, making it look like part of a storage room.
  • The box cartons are dusty – influences the air babies breathe
  • The changing tables have a piece of changing mat on them that looks barely clean (a dad who came in to change his daughter was also apalled at how unhygienic the table is but quickly did his job after laying their own changing mat on top of the existing mat).
  • The curtains for breastfeeding area show signs of wear and tear and I wonder how often do they send them for laundry.
In the end, I fed little jj hastily on the drabby couch at the entrance.

Recently (about 2-3 weeks ago), I discovered another nursing area at the new wing, in Parkson.

luxurious and safe finishing - the walls are practically covered with
thick purple cushion-like material all over...

Toughcookie likes:
  • The dim lighting – so relaxing for mommy and baby.
  • The really large nursing rooms (there are 2, with curtains), with wide comfortable and cushioned bench. It's relatively spacious that you could even bring in your stroller.
  • The individual nursing rooms allow complete privacy for mommy and baby.
  • The entire walls are safe and secure as they are fitted with cushion-like materials.
  • The colour of the area is a luxurious purple, very soothing to the eye.
  • There are three changing tables, all decked with clean changing mats and a large bin to deposit those dirty diapers.
  • The air-conditioning is just right.
  • There would always be someone attending to the area, to ensure its cleanliness and comfort.
Toughcookie dislikes:
  • The changing table is horizontal – making it slightly difficult for diaper-change and parking of stroller.
  • The changing table is not that wide for baby’s toiletries. Hence, you’d need to be super efficient, or your baby would need to help you hold the wet tissues ;)
  • Location – it is too far off if you’re shopping around the old wing.
Jusco - 1 cookie from toughcookie as it compromises on cleanliness and hygiene, an utmost important factor when it comes to babies.
Parkson - 5 cookies from toughcookie for its comfort (little jj totally loves it!), cleanliness, ambience, lighting, air-conditioning and spacious nursing area.

01/02/2009 - Share on Ovi
there was really no problems breastfeeding and changing her here.
look at how happy she looks!

1 Utama - 2 cookies from toughcookie. For such a reputable shopping mall with thousands of visitors daily, it is clearly unacceptable that there are only 2 nursing rooms in their main tenants. Bandar Utama developer should also shoulder the responsibility to give back to their loyal shoppers and have more nursing rooms throughout the levels, and every few areas.

4. Ikea
For a shopping centre that sells furniture and home furnishings, we would only expect them to have the best looking nursing rooms. And best of all, from all the websites of our favourite shopping centres, Ikea is the only mall that mentions the location of their nursing room in their website.

Toughcookie likes:
  • The way their furniture is put to the test.
  • There are 2 changing tables with their spongy-airy changing mat and a pull-over large newsprint-like disposable material for use over the changing mat – ensuring hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Table is vertical – eases diaper-change.
  • Room is dimly lit, cosy and allows the right amount of air-conditioning.
  • Curtain to cover mommy breastfeeding her baby.
  • Location of nursing room is in the centre of everything and at both levels – if you are familiar with the floor layout, it is very easy to make your way through short-cuts to arrive there quickly.
  • The room is clean and dry.
Toughcookie dislikes:
  • Only ONE one-seater sofa for breastfeeding. So, once when there was another mommy feeding her baby, I laid little jj horizontally on the changing table and fed her standing up (go imagine yourself).
  • The room can be pretty crampy when full (imagine daddies also coming in with strollers) – only a max of 1 stroller can fit in the room, and the mommy sitting on the one-seater will face direct another mom’s bottom, who’s doing diaper-change.

01/02/2009 - Share on Ovi01/02/2009 - Share on Ovi
top pix: see the huge toilet-tissue-like roll just above the changing mat.
they're so useful in maintaining a clean and comfy changing area.
bottom pix: see how cramped the area looks and just one small
one-seater for one mommy at a time... but thumbs up for the curtain.

OVERALL VERDICT – 4 cookies from toughcookie, especially for the extra effort in providing the disposable large-sized tissue to cover the changing mat, the clever locations of the nursing room, comfort and hygiene.

Overall, Malaysia is not really a country that's breastfeeding-friendly no matter how much our local hospitals and our government promote breastfeeding.

I remembered those days (years and years ago) when women were strongly encouraged to breastfeed their young and emphasis was put to employers to provide nurseries in their workplace so that women can play their part for the benefit of their babies whilst at the same time contribute to the country’s economy.

Nowadays, even corporations who used to provide day care for their employees’ children no longer run such establishments. I can name a few but I don’t think I should.

The large shopping centres are not doing much in support for breasfeeding either. I'm not sure if this issue has been highlighted before...

Do women who breastfeed are considered a minority group, insignificant for such a big change in our shopping environment?

Do most women who breastfeed carry their milk in a bottle whilst shopping therefore making it easier for their babies to just drink from the bottle in the comfort of their baby strollers?

Or do women who breastfeed only stay at home and not shop?

Apart from the wondrous health benefits for mommy and baby, I breastfeed my baby because it is economical, it is clearly hygienic as there’s no need to sterilise bottles, it is safe as there’s no need to check the temperature of milk, I am able to save time on milk preparation (and lesser amount of baby crying due to speedier response time) and I carry less items in the diaper bag.

But this is not just about breasfeeding. Baby-changing needs a clean environment as well. So far, only 3 shopping locations passed little jj's standard of cleanliness - Ikea, Sunway Pyramid and Parkson 1 Utama.

My vote:
Most baby-friendly shopping centre
- Sunway Pyramid wins hands down for the numerous babyrooms at every floor, and almost all toilet stops.
Best baby room - Parkson 1 Utama

*1 cookie - very low quality
*2 cookies - low quality
*3 cookies - not bad, but not very good either
*4 cookies - quite okay with room for improvement
*5 cookies - perfect score! with little jj totally at ease.


emly2175 said...

haha! I can never get to breastfeed Arissa in shopping malls as she's easily distracted with the all the sound, cries & whatever in the nursing room. She rather wait till we are in the car for her next feeding..

This entry is really helpful la..It'll be handy when we take the 2nd child out for his/her 1st shopping mall trip..

Didiana said...

Dear..u tak try the to mothercare...and also ikano. btw bout thr Dr..izzit Dr Lee from SJMC? Very old Dr

Funky Mama said...

Other breastfeeding areas in Mid Valley:-
(1) Metrojaya, 2nd floor - Next to the cashier at the kids' section;
(2) Isetan (the Gardens) - Very big and very clean.

toughcookie said...

dear emly,
hehe... good luck la.

have not yet gotten the chance to visit the curve or ikano's nursing rooms since we always spend so much time in ikea and feed her there before adjourning to curve or ikano.

will check them out and do another review ;)

thanks, dear.

this Dr Lee is tua also but not too old. we go to his clinic satu row with 7Eleven Damansara Uptown. he was my little munchkin's Dr.

funky mama,
unfortunately, the receptionist did not direct us there and the walk is too terribly far.

thanks for the info... at least the next time i'd know where else i could go.

Chech said...

Morning Toughcookie :)

My favourite baby rooms so far are the ones at Isetan KLCC and Subang Parade. I guess, from Funky Mama's recommendation, Isetan proffers good facilities for parents with babies.

The things I like about the baby room at Isetan:
- Three spacious cubicles for nursing mothers, as well as a spacious lounge for other parents and children.
- Each cubicle is equipped with a power source, for mothers who use electric pump to express their milk.
- Water (hot and cold) is provided. You know how thirsty one could be after nursing.
- Cushioned nappy-change areas.
- Neutral coloured space which is less distracting for the nursing babies (macam Khalish, dia pantang sikit dengan warna terang; distraction during nursing =D).

The things I like about the nursing room at Subang Parade:
- Attached restroom for mothers and children. I think it is crucial for a baby room to have an attached bathroom (that is clean, of course) that could accommodate the baby's stroller.
- Spacious nursing cubicles (there are two, if I'm not mistaken), with power source.

The baby room at Kuala Lumpur Convention Center is ok too (mainly because there is a clean restroom attached). The one at The Curve is nice, as well.

The one at Pavilion was frustrating though (for a posh shopping complex). Maybe, maybe, there are other baby rooms there which are nicer, but I didn't have time to explore.

*I wish my office is equipped with a proper room for mothers who express their milk.

**I share your sentiments about the nursing rooms at Parkson, OU, and Ikea.

Anis Zainal-Pacleb said...

yup! both Isetan at KLCC and The Gardens provide comfy ambience for mommies amd babies alike.... since we're staying in Subang, we always hang out at Subang Parade and not only do they have spacious baby room but privacy as well, coz' from the outside one can only see a colourful door and there's a button to press before one can enter the room (something similar to the one in Sunway. There's also an area for slightly older children to play while mommies tend to the lil' ones...

* but how come glamorous 5 stars hotel don't provide such facility eh? Some would only have a pull-me-down nappy change table.... *sigh*

kasehrex said...

hyee!! TQS for the review.. makes me wanna chk out parkson nursing room ths very momment. ive only tried The Curve so far, its pretty clean and allrite. We usually go jalan2 in between feed or i'd either feed Ezekiell in the car or pump before going out and feed him using the bottle. i dont have that much problem with feeding him while jalan2. HOWEVER, since my work requires me to be on assignment everyday, finding a suitable place (especially at hotels!) is a real challenge ok. once i had to pump at this big empty ballroom coz the surau had no plug extension.

And the office is another story'la.. i used to pump at the surau and being like "Exhibit A" is one thing.. one day, WHILE pumping, i had a lady who tried to sell her direct selling product, the next day another lady was trying to sell unit trust and insurance. now i pump in private at the meeting room - with a transparent glass door and no lock! =P

btw, u have a very,very helpful blog here for new moms! =)


toughcookie said...

hi chech,
thanks for the additional info... it's great for us mums to be informed and share the experiences amongst us.

next time i'm in those areas, i'll definitely know where to head.

it's a pity that your office doesn't have a specific area especially one being gomen kan, kan? i thought they would promote these things... so i guess you'd do it either in an available meeting room or the surau, like many other nursing mommies?

anis dear,
sad, isn't it, that glamorous places don't care much about these things? i dunno... they probably think that this is just a short phase that many mommies go thru, ie. 6-months and how many times does a mom in that 6 months would be visiting them...

it's been awhile since i stepped into subang parade. will definitely pay them a visit now that i've been bringing jada out once in awhile.

hi weween,
i've read another review before by one mom (she was very brief and only gave a summary) but since my little one can be very picky about the places she is fed/changed, that review didn't help me at all.

regarding you being an exhibit, was exactly what another friend conveyed to me... in fact, her male colleagues would whistle away and call her a 'milk factory' everytime she passes by their cubicle to express milk. stupid, ain't it, those inconsiderate male species.

some ladies can be equally embarassing as that male group since they would gawk at you while you pump. terrible...

well, as i've said before, i truly admire working moms who continue to breastfeed... it not only bogs you down, but you also have to put up with all those nonsense. thank god, its health benefits outweigh those little things you could ignore.

hey, thanks for visiting! *hugs*

Susan said...

I actually came across that has a huge variety of Baby Changing Tables with really good prices.