How to make your business baby friendly

May 6, 2009

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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 🙂

My daughter’s favorite toys

March 31, 2009

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My daughter is 19 months old. She has a quite a few toys, some of which are pretty cool – such as a rocking eelphant and a stuffed dog that can sing a bunch of songs (incredibly, the dog is still on it original battery, in spite of the fact that it is constantly turning itself on). Most of the time, however, she will eschew these toys in favor of her favorite non-toy items.

Jungle gym daddy

Whenever I am lying of the floor, she loves to crawl across my legs repeatedly. Sometimes she will just lay with her torso across my legs. She’s perfectly content to stay in that position until daddy’s legs fall asleep – or even longer.


She also likes paper. I don’t just mean wrapping paper or other colored papers. She also loves plain white printer paper. We can’t even leave paper loaded in the printer, because she’ll take it out and try to play with it.

Dinner box

My daughter eats these little Gerber dinners in a box. They are essentially a miniaturized TV dinner. She absolutely loves playing with the little box the meals come in.


We have coasters on the end tables. Well, we try to have coasters on the end tables. We have little fabric coasters and the thirstystone coasters – she loves all of them.

Remote control

We try to keep the remote control out of her reach, but if it gets left too far toward the front of the end table, she’ll notice within seconds and grab it in an effort to change the channel to something better.

Anything related to phones

She’ll leave the cordless phone alone for long stretches, and then suddenly will be grabbing at it constantly until we put it out of her reach. She had attempted to dial a few times, but has not yet successfully completed a call.

She also loves to get into the phones books – particular the big yellow pages. The handful of takeout menus near the phone books are even greater prize.

Water bottles

Hey, you can see through them, and they make cool noises when you hit stuff with them. What’s not to like?

It’s a cliché, but I sometimes wonder why we even bother to buy the toys. She would definitely be happier with the boxes.