Referrered to lovingly as ‘Meadowhell’ this shopping giant’s got baby friendly dialled.
You certainly wouldn’t find me there on a weekend or bank holiday that’s more a judge on my character and a loathing for anything akin with hustle and bustle than the abundant facilities for babies.
Midweek there are plenty of parent and child spaces available in lower level car parks, I can’t always find my way in to the shops from them, but I once lost my car in a Qparks so again perhaps more a judge on my character. The lower entrance to Marks and Spencer always seems full in terms of these spaces, this is where a small soft play area can be found. ‘Tiger play’ is £3 per hour, free for under 1’s. There’s ‘Monster play’ an outdoor play area just past the Oasis dining area entrance.
The changing facilities are wonderfully thought out with unisex toilets, big enough to take a pushchair in with you, within the changing areas should you be on your own and caught short. Rooms are designed with a solid bench running across wall to wall with fitted mats for baby to lay on. A metal bar running parallel stops baby rolling off and wipes are provided to clean down the mat once you’ve finished. They have always been clean. Although spread through out the centre, it’s worth hunting one down and due to the genius they can be busy. Avoid changing in the toilet at Costa WHSmith, see Man Vs Baby for accurate description, the smell is unparalleled.
Meadowhall is laid out like most shopping centres, downstairs, upstairs, food court and that scuzzy bit. There are lifts scattered about, some inside the shops, so it can be a long walk especially if they’re out of order or in use by people with two perfectly good working legs and a case of lazyitis.
The Oasis food court has a good selection of places to eat from takeaway quick bites to sit down meals. Everywhere caters for pushchairs although the takeaway area is a free for all when it comes to seating. Two places I feel are worth mentioning: Pizza Express which is often busy with mums/dads/grandparents and children taking advantage of O2’s £5 main course. They tend to slot you all into one section of the floor and won’t let you sit outside with a pram due to space restrictions. Then there’s Las Iguanas who are also great when it comes to babies, the staff are a real credit to the company. High chairs, in my experience have been the wooden stackable ones but I can’t say I’ve eaten everywhere. They’ve been clean and available. Downstairs in The Oasis is a dedicated breastfeeding room near the management suite and entrance.
Vue have a cinema inside the centre for rainy days.
I’ve heard that you can hire a pushchair at Meadowhall, if it’s true id love to hear from anyone who’s done it with success. They also have a mother and baby club ‘Mini and Me’ offering promotions to members and meetings once a month, more information can be found on their website.
I frequent Meadowhall to wander round the shops, have a bit of lunch, meet mummy friends, sisters, my mum. I rarely have a negative experience, and when I have had them it’s been individual shops rather than the centre itself.