Our fabulous Northside mama crush this issue is Tania, the creator of Babyccinos – an awesome concept that evolved from a frustration at the lack of information about local child-friendly cafés. Babyccinos is a community database/website of word-of-mouth type reviews for parents, by parents. Find out what Tania’s favourite Northside spots are to take the kids, and don’t miss her helpful tips for eating out with the kiddies to make the most of your experience (and keep you sane!).

Tania, tell us a bit about you and your family. How old are your kids?

My husband, Marcus, and I have been together for 17 years and married for almost 8 years. Our three boys are 6.5, 3.5 and just turning 1.

What were you doing before you had kids?

Marcus and I loved travelling and I worked long hours as a veterinarian. We still enjoy both, but our kids are our priority for this life stage so I prefer being home to work around them.

When you started going to cafés with your kids, what made you think you could turn it into Babyccinos?

Babyccinos is an idea that has evolved with time and different experiences. Initial café trips with our first bub were with our mothers group which got trickier as the babies learnt to crawl and walk, as not many places were suitable for us to catch up. I found being at home with a baby to be very isolating, simply popping out for a coffee and fresh air can do wonders for postnatal mental health along with breaking up that overwhelming ‘groundhog day’ feeling.

As our boys grew older, we found that they needed different child-friendly features at cafes or restaurants so that we could enjoy our visit. Pram access and a baby changing table is great for a baby but a toddler needs a highchair and possibly a few toys to keep them busy. A pre-schooler enjoys colouring or a kids play area to buy that precious extra five minutes to finish your meal. Kids menus aren’t all created equally and finding ones with healthy options is important to us.

I found that trying to meet up with other mama friends in an area that we weren’t familiar with was difficult when just trying to Google for child-friendly places. I kept saying to Marcus that I needed one easy to use, central hub where parents could share that information and, having a background in software development, he surmised that it could be done. So, the brainstorming began!

I’m sure your kids love going to child-friendly eateries, but what do you like most about your business?

I love spending time with my boys in the real world; we plan our adventures to different cafés around what other fun things that we can explore such as local playgrounds or activities. I’m excited to be creating something useful that will help connect families to child-friendly dining venues to make parenting and life easier. I enjoy the creativity of allowing the idea to evolve as I learn more about both parenting and running a small business. 

Tell us a bit about how the website works, and what’s your new Tribe?

The aim of the Babyccinos website is to act as a community database for word-of-mouth type reviews of child-friendly cafes, restaurants, pubs and more. The reviews are based on a tick-box system that is quick and easy for busy parents to use. We want to make it easy for those with kids to find and enjoy great food and coffee with the kids in tow. 

We’ve recently launched the Babyccinos Tribe which is a fabulous opportunity to experience some excellent child-friendly cafes all over Melbourne. We’ve teamed up with Frank Green to produce some beautiful reusable cups which give exclusive access to free babyccinos and coffee discounts at participating Babyccinos Tribe cafés. Our Tribe is growing by the day and all are welcome to join us. Anyone looking for more details can find them on our website.

What’s your fav thing about being a mum?

When they randomly come and give me a cuddle and say “I love you, Mummy”. I find child development incredibly fascinating, albeit challenging at times.

What’s your favourite Northside spot that both you and the kids enjoy?

Ooh we have a few favourites in the North but, locally, I’d say Shillinglaw Café in Eltham. My boys request “the sandpit café” quite often due to the courtyard under a big oak tree. For an indoor play and great food, we love The Hub 3070 in Northcote and Bean Counter in Fairfield. Stomping Ground Beer Hall in Collingwood, with their fun cubby play area, would be our choice to satisfy the dads.

Finally, do you have any tips for eating out with kids?

Babies have fantastic naps in a capsule or pram with café background noise so make the most of getting out whilst they’re little. For the toddlers and pre-schoolers, packing a specific ‘busy bag’ type thing with a few toys or colouring items that are special and only used for going out is a sanity saver.

The venue is key. If it is child-friendly then it makes a big difference, not only to entertaining the kids but to the parents’ ability to relax about the little things like noise or mess when kids are genuinely welcome. Accept that most kids won’t sit still for an extended amount of time so if there isn’t a kids play area or space to hop down from the table and be active then you’ll probably have to eat reasonably quickly.

Timing also matters; arrive at least 30 minutes before your child usually eats to allow time to order and the food to arrive to avoid hangry meltdowns. If you have early risers in your house, like us, weekend café breakfasts are fairly quiet before 9am. Restaurants tend to be quieter before 6pm so finding places that serve food early means a less overwhelming dinner with fast service and home for bedtime. 

Find a child friendly cafe near you and join the tribe at www.babyccinos.com.au

Find more amazing mama interviews here!