Shhhhh — I know the name of the best baby-friendly cafe in our city. Don’t share this post, cause you’ll never ever get a seat in there again. (I’m kidding, share it!)
It’s called Juniper Bistro, a beatuiful cafe/restaurant nestled into a strip mall in the community of Strathearn. I’m in awe of how incredible it is for young families in Edmonton.
Juniper Bistro tops my list of baby-friendly cafes in Edmonton
Juniper is newer, but feels like it’s been a neighbourhood cornerstone for a long time. The owners transformed this former strip-mall pub into a beautiful, hygge-worthy hangout with up-scale bistro dishes, comfort foods, a special children’s menu, and incredible baked goods. When you walk in, you feel all warm and happy inside.
Over the last two years, I’ve taken my wee baby, now toddler, to go play in their play area while I enjoy a fresh coffee, scone or an actual meal. Just last night, my mama friends Joanne and Julie met me there, with two babies and three toddlers in tow, just an hour before closing time. Despite the team getting ready for an event, they were very patient with us and loved having us in.
Moms and dads with little ones are always treated like family, no matter how “misbehaved” their tiny tribes are. My standards are strict when it comes to baby-friendliness, and Juniper meets all my requirements.
Here is what makes it great…
1. Juniper’s Play Area is Incredible
The bar area at the back of the space was retrofitted into an awesome play area, complete with an IKEA kitchen, play food, dinosaurs, cars, plush pillows and books.
The owners have obviously thought of parents. New parents, especially new mothers, with busy babies and toddlers. They can bring in their laptop, sit up at the former bar top, and watch their littles play while they drink hot coffee and work away. (Note: you can’t take food inside the play area — and the rule is you have clean up after your littles!)
2. The Staff Make it Inclusive
Every single time I have visited Juniper Bistro, the staff are thoughtful, understanding and inclusive — above and beyond.
One time, I was almost in tears with my screaming baby — and the chef heard his cries. He personally came out of the kitchen to give him a carrot to chew on and see how I was doing. I felt everyone’s eyes on me, and knew I was disturbing their afternoon coffee or lunch. I apologized to the chef, and he said never to apologize, that this is what little ones do. In fact, he asked us to please come back again. Little did he know, I needed desperately to get out of the house, was depressed that day, and his acceptance completely turned my day around.
I know that a few of you have checked out other child-friendly establishments I’ve recommended and haven’t received as warm a welcome. I apologize — I only want new mothers in Edmonton to have the very best experience.
Of course, restaurants and cafes are *not* intended to be free-range play spaces, but they should be inclusive to all people, especially for new moms with babies or toddlers. Especially ones that welcome children. The best restaruants will have staff that will lend a helping hand to a mom, maneuver her stroller, distract her child, bring her a coffee, anything to make her life easier. It makes a huge difference on whether her outing is positive or negative.
3. High Chairs are Available
You’ll find a few high chairs at Juniper Bistro. They’re always cleaned after use and are set conveniently by the play area. Babies are encouraged to come!
4. There’s Plenty of Room for Your Stroller
Another must-have for new moms is their stroller. Maybe not for all new moms, but for many of them. Removing a sleeping baby from their car seat is just asking for trouble. And, it’s not always easy to carry a heavy bucket seat down the block into a restaurant. Many new moms are still recovering from a c-section, are extremely tired, and also rely on their stroller to carry their heavy baby bag and more.
So, mamas will often need to have their stroller with them, and sitting in very close proximity to where they get settled in a cafe or restaurant. Either that, or at least in a safe place. Juniper has plenty of room for strollers, and if it’s in the way, you will never be asked to leave it outside, where it will get cold or get swiped.
5. A Change Table is Easily Accessible
Most importantly, Juniper has a great change table in the washroom. I’m not sure if it’s in both the women’s and men’s — I haven’t stuck my head into the guys washroom yet. Can anyone tell me?
There you have it! Juniper Bistro is the best baby-friendly cafe in Edmonton, unless other restaurants and cafes start to step up, too. Young families want to enjoy a beer, a good meal, a hot coffee, and a visit with their friends, and will frequent your establishment if you make an effort with baby-friendliness.
Make sure you check out all the other baby-friendly Edmonton gems: