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Sunday, 15 December 2019

Melbourne venues go all out in parent room renos  

When you have a child you may mourn the loss of your ability to follow a conversation and form words. Awash with sleep deprivation and intense baby love, it might take a while to realise you’ve also scored a longterm pass to VIP lounges around the city. These VIP lounges are also known as parent rooms.

Peaceful and private

When baby Frida was brand new and suffering from colic, we came to see parent rooms as islands in a raging river. We had endless appointments in the city, which seemed loud and chaotic for a new parent with a tiny baby.

After braving public transit, we’d decamp to the Bourke St Mall Myer parent room to regroup. No awkward doors to prop open while pushing the pram – just press a button and a frosted glass pane slides out of your way. Like most parent rooms, this space has comfy couches and chairs, private feeding rooms, microwaves, nappy change areas and toilets outfitted with adult and kid-sized commodes.

I often commiserated with other mums during these rest stops. It felt good to swap war stories and be reminded I was one of a zillion women riding the childrearing rollercoaster.

In time, our trips to the city became easier. For fun, we explored different parent rooms – it was the new bar hopping.  Myer (which can be very busy), to David Jones (quiet, small) and on to the crown jewel: Melbourne Central’s revamped and super stylish parent room.

Like many parent rooms, this one is not well signed so it was a bit like sleuthing out a hotspot in hidden laneways – in other words, typical Melbourne.

Prettiest parent room in town

melb central parent room feeding rooms

Melbourne Central’s Parents Retreat is tucked down a corridor beside Decjuba on Level 2. It was designed to provide a rare public CBD space where parents can feed and change children, and where children can safely crawl and run around.  Mum and architect, Clare Cousins, outfitted the retreat with bespoke play equipment (tunnels for exploring, a kids climbing wall, rope swings). There are also cosy booths for eating and activities and child-proof gates.

Melb central parent room play lounge

*images supplied for us by Shannon McGrath Photography

Calm comfort in the Zoo

zoo parent room change stations

Other than shopping centres, swank parent rooms can also be found at venues popular with children. Here at Little Melbourne, we are quite fond of the freshly renovated parent room at the Melbourne Zoo. The walls are decorated with fun facts about baby animals, which can amuse older children while a younger sibling gets a nappy change or a feed. Another nice touch is the personal sink built into every nappy change station. The parent room is handily located near the bistro, bakery and picnic areas.

zoo parent room decor

Here is an incomplete list of some of the parent rooms we like or have heard positive feedback on. For some reason, new parent rooms often get left off mall maps, signs aren’t hung to point them out and venues often don’t indicate parent room locations on their websites. If you’re stumped, ask at information or a kids clothing store.

Here's our kid-tested review on the new-ish 'Five Star' Highpoint Shopping Centre Parent Room.

Chadstone

Chirnside Park

David Jones Bourke St Mall

Westfield Doncaster

Eastland

Westfield Fountain Gate

Highpoint

Ikea Richmond

Knox Shopping Centre

Melbourne Central

Melbourne Zoo

Myer Melbourne City

Northland

Westfield Southland

Werribee Plaza

Watergardens Town Centre

NGV International

With thanks to our Bambino Contributor, Amy Carmichael, Melbourne mum, writer and parent room tracker who is most happy to flit about shopping centres filled with shiny things.

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