My wife and I have a 20 month old daughter.  In the time since she was born, we have become very aware of which businesses are baby friendly and which are not.  Some places are so baby-unfriendly that we don’t go there any more – and likely won’t return even after our daughter is older.  So, what can a business (in particular, a restaurant) do to retain customers who now have a little one?

Changing stations

Changing stations are probably the single most critical factor.  If you are a restaurant and you don’t have changing stations, there is a very good chance that you will lose some customers.  Some places are still embracing stereotypes from decades ago by placing changing stations only in the women’s bathrooms.  Seriously, folks, get with the program.  There are a lot of men changing diapers these days.  I’m sure the changing stations are not a trivial expense, but you’ll come out ahead in the long run.  Personally, I have been a bit fan of the changing stations at Target stores.  Oddly, we have encountered isolated situations in a Wal-Mart and in a McDonalds where there were no changing stations in the men’s bathroom.  This was especially surprising for a business that is as kid-focused as McDonalds.

High chairs

If you’re a restaurant, have high chairs.  Just as importantly, have high chairs that are clean and functional.  We have encountered a multitude of dirty high chairs (Pampers wipes to the rescue!) and quite a few that are broken (usually a problem with the restraining straps).  This gives parents a bad first impression of your restaurant.  Spend a bit of time on QA and fix the problems with the chairs before the customers see them.  Often, it doesn’t seem that the problem would be difficult fo fix.  As for the cleanliness of the chairs, it only makes sense to clean them after each use.

Kids meals

Have at least a few options on the kids menu.  I’m not suggesting that you need twenty different entrees; just bear in mind that not every kid in the world loves chicken fingers (although, admittedly, most of them do).  Also, consider different portion sizes for different prices.  An 18 month old is not going to eat as much as a five year old.  Also, don’t ask if the parents of a three month old need a kids menu.  They don’t, trust me :)

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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