updated 21 May 2011, 17:54
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Sat, May 21, 2011
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Havens for mums
by Clara Chow

FOUR years ago, when I became a new mum, the shopaholic in me received a rude shock.Suddenly, the list of places I could go to spend my money shrank drastically.

Many popular youth hangouts, with the cheap-chic shops that I used to frequent as a swinging single, were definitely out: You were lucky if there was a diaper- changing station tucked in cramped, not-so-clean toilets.

With an infant in tow, I headed down the path of least stress and resistance by going to commercial spaces with decent baby- changing and nursing facilities.

So, for a couple of years, I found myself in retail purgatory, wandering around the same old malls that were mercifully family-friendly.

How things have changed. Now that I am a mum again, with a month-old younger son, I find that Singapore’s malls and other public places have become more welcoming to parents and nursing mothers.

Perhaps, as the retail sector struggles back on its feet after the recent recession, landlords are cottoning on to the need to woo customers with extras that make their lives easier.

Malls that mothers can always bank on have upped their ante.

Paragon started upgrading its nursing rooms five months ago, to the tune of $150,000. The revamp, targeted for completion by the end of next month, caters to its growing number of shoppers with young children.

"Our shoppers are happy to see all these amenities," says a Paragon spokesman,

"(Now) their children can enjoy up-market facilities too."

Meanwhile, ION Orchard, which opened earlier this year, has nine “parent nursing rooms” with hot-water dispensers, diaper-changing tables and child seats. Talk about swish.

However, parents here who voice their despair about lack- lustre public facilities for baby care still run the risk of being seen as whining ingrates.

In April this year, a person who complained on citizen-journalism website Stomp about a hot and stuffy baby changing room at a major shopping mall was roundly criticised by other netizens for not being contented with the facilities.

But as the Government's pro- family message begins to take root, cultural perceptions are – hopefully – changing.

In this day of gender equality and active fatherhood, sticking a fold-out changing table in the female toilet just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Besides, money talks: As the Yuletide gift-giving season goes into full swing, merry parents who receive help in attending to their offspring can stick around longer to shop. Ka-ching! Babies cooing lead to tills ringing.

So, all I want for Christmas? More malls and public places that are sensitive to parents’ needs.

In the meantime, where can you go? Here are some of Manic Mummy’s favourite baby changing and nursing rooms:

Paragon’s Level 5 ladies-only

Thumbs up for the two modest, yet comfortably-sized nursing cubicles with locks.

Each cubicle has a cushy seat for the breastfeeding mum, a shelf for her shopping bags, and a power point to plug in a breast pump if necessary.

While dads doing feeding and diaper-changing duties have to go elsewhere (sorry, supportive spouses), I do find it a more relaxing and secure environment to nurse in than other "unisex" parent rooms.

Tangs Orchard’s Parent Lounge, Level 4 Playground

Set up in 2004, this lounge never gets old. Furnished with dim lighting, armchairs, hot-water flask, bottle steriliser, changing area and wash basin, it can pass off as a little princess’ boudoir.

Measuring cup and tongs are available on request from the staff.

Great World City, Basement 1

With a mural of fairies, groovy chandeliers and teal-coloured armchairs, this changing-cum- nursing room is a girlie haven.

Baby mobiles hung over changing tables to distract tots are a welcome touch – as are stylishly decorated cubicles with locks for nursing, and an area with washbasins and vanity tops.

If you’re not satisfied with our list, also check out independent listings of nursing rooms on the Web. Sites like www. and and provide a wealth of information.

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