Cafés that cater to parents & babies

For many parents of young children (and especially newborns), finding a place where they can meet other parents can be extremely comforting.

Writer Jenn Hardy with her baby and partner at La Tasse Gamine.

Photo by Jessica Mees

My daughter Amélee was born in the chilly month of February so I didn’t venture far from home in the first couple of months after her birth. But by the time April rolled around, I was ready for a change of scenery, and began planning more excursions with my daughter bundled up with an adorable knitted hat. We went in search of a parent-and-baby cafés, places where families with small tots are welcome to hang out and enjoy some food in an atmosphere where breastfeeding is welcome and little ones feel free to crawl or run around. Here’s what I found.

La Tasse Gamine
5658A Parc Ave., Montreal
Hours: Closed Monday for classes and workshops, Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located in Montreal’s Mile End district, La Tasse Gamine is bright, colourful and pretty noisy! The large play area and roomy, open space makes the café perfect for little ones who are becoming experts at walking and running around. In fact, on one visit, I saw little boys speed past my table on small roller bikes, crashing into anything that got in their way. While a large number of parents bring their toddlers to play in the fabric castle and with the miniature basketball hoop, there were also many mothers with their newborns in tow.

There are comfy couches at the back near the bathroom and changing area, which is a great spot to meet and mingle with friends. It was also an ideal location for me to sit and enjoy a cup of tea with my partner while we got a glimpse of what it’s going to be like to parent an active toddler. The café offers a selection of vegetarian fare as well as various teas and coffee. Parents can also purchase products in the small eco-boutique, where they can find cloth diapers, baby carriers and even gently-used clothing. The cafe also offers different kinds of activity workshops throughout the week for parents and toddlers, like yoga and storytime. La Tasse Gamine has a fun, friendly and lively atmosphere — but perhaps a little too lively for my 3-month-old, who loves her daytime naps.

Melons et Clémentines
5659 Sherbrooke St., W., N.D.G.
Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday.

This café was founded by two moms who worked with the Nourri-Source breastfeeding support program, so it’s no surprise that you can find not only food and drink but also all kinds of breastfeeding gear at this charming N.D.G. location. The walls are painted a fresh, spring green and the place feels clean, tidy and sleek. The café features vegetarian fare such a wraps and salads along with tea and coffee. There is a play area for toddlers, and the café’s comfy chairs make it a perfect spot to hang out with your baby and a good book. Melons et Clémentines has a large retail area where you can find just about anything a breastfeeding mom might need — nursing bras, pump accessories, clothing, carriers, etc. You can also book an appointment with a certified lactation consultant if you have questions or are having difficulties breastfeeding.

Caffè della Pace
1002 Van Horne Ave., corner Hutchison St.
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Saturday.

For 15 years, Rivka Cymbalist dreamed of creating a space where parents could feel comfortable bringing their children to enjoy a meal together as well as a place to hold events and workshops. In June, Cymbalist realized her dream when she opened the doors to Caffè della Pace.

True to its name —’pace’ means ‘peace’ in Italian — Cymbalist says the café is a safe and inclusive space for families and foodies alike. Her son Giacomo, also the café’s chef, has created a menu that blends traditional Italian cuisine with fresh vegetarian dishes, also offering gluten-free and vegan option. Items on the menu include everything from avocado veggie burgers and minestrone soup to blueberry crumble muffins and chocolate hazelnut brownies.

For new mothers, the café offers a breastfeeding-friendly environment. “It seems like modern society has excluded mothers and babies,” Cymbalist said. “We’re trying to include them again.”

Caffè della Pace hosts different community and parenting-related events throughout the week. Cymbalist, who is also the director of Montreal Birth Companions Doula School where volunteers are trained to help women through the birthing process, holds some of these training sessions at the café. These sessions come with a fee but many of events and workshops are free. The space is also available for rent.

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