To be annoyed that my local Sure Start Children's Centre wouldn't let me change my baby there?

(64 Posts)
Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 11:53:34

Yesterday I was at a cafe with a friend, I went to use the baby changing facilities but the cafe is brand new and the changing table thing was not yet attached to the wall. I then remembered that there was a local Sure Start Children's Centre very near by, so thinking that they are a "Milk Spot" and supposed to be a one stop shop for all things child-related, my friend and I popped over so I could use the baby changing.

To my dismay the receptionist refused for me to enter, saying that they don't just let "anybody in". I thought this was out of order but she refused point blank to let me in!

Am I being unreasonable to be shocked and annoyed at this?

gordyslovesheep Fri 22-Mar-13 11:57:07

YABU it's not a public building - they are probably not insured to let you wander in and out

Fakebook Fri 22-Mar-13 11:57:44

Could you not have put a changing mat on the floor of the toilets and change your baby there? confused. Why trek all the way to a sure start centre?

twinklesparkles Fri 22-Mar-13 11:58:04


Were they actually open? My sure start centre is often "open" but its just for the staff working and there's nothing else on that day,

Also you have to be registered with them.. So maybe that's why she didn't let you in?

Catsdontcare Fri 22-Mar-13 11:58:52

Yabu, it's not a drop in centre.

NonnaMai Fri 22-Mar-13 11:59:24

Yes I think you are being a little bit U. It would have been nice if they had let you but they are under no obligation. You weren't using the center.

50BalesOfHay Fri 22-Mar-13 11:59:40

You could always put the lavatory seat down, sit on it and change baby on your lap, it's what I used to do 'way back then' when nowhere had changing facilities.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:00:05

It was freezing cold in the toilets and the SS Centre is literally 1 minute away. I've used their Milk spot before so I couldn't see what the issue was. I would have been happy to sign in.

ArabellaBeaumaris Fri 22-Mar-13 12:00:16

I suppose this depends on the layout of the building. I have been allowed in to one SureStart centre to use the toilet (I was heavily pregnant & my toddler needed the potty too), but they had a toilet in the foyer. At the centre I use now, the toilets with baby change are by the contact rooms so I can imagine that when the contact rooms are in use there is no way they would let some random in to wander about the centre.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:00:52

Twinklesparkles, yes I am registered with them

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:01:11

They had the baby clinic yesterday too

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:01:25

(which is drop in)

AllTheWittyNamesAreGone Fri 22-Mar-13 12:02:00


Ours isn't always open to everyone
it runs courses or staff things. It has baby groups on every day but out side the advertised times you cant just wonder in

Airwalk79 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:02:11

There won't always be changing facilities everywhere you go. Why didnt you just change baby on your knee/the floor? Put your coat or something on the floor if its cold or hard?

VinegarDrinker Fri 22-Mar-13 12:03:43

What is a Milk Spot?

VinegarDrinker Fri 22-Mar-13 12:04:51

And agree with everyone else who said why not just change on floor/your lap.

Our CC has a nursery attached and very strict in/out policy. You have to be registered and sign in and out.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:05:09

A place you can go in to feed your baby, anytime

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:05:54

I am registered and I would have happily signed in and out, plus they have there regular baby clinic then

Fakebook Fri 22-Mar-13 12:05:56

I think you should get used to changing a baby in toilets in exceptional circumstances.

VinegarDrinker Fri 22-Mar-13 12:07:00

Is it open 24/7? That's a v good, if costly to run idea! Is it just like a lounge with chairs and things? Tbh I can't imagine using one but it's a nice thought esp for women nervous about feeding in public, especially if on a busy high st for example.

VinegarDrinker Fri 22-Mar-13 12:08:14

Why didn't you just lie and say you needed to feed your baby or wanted to get him/her weighed?

I don't think they should be a free for all for baby changing - you really don't need special facilities.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:09:18

VinegarDrinker:Because I thought they were a one stop shop for looking after new babies-feeding and changing as well as all the other activities that take place. My friend thought the same too, they are always nice and warm inside !

VinegarDrinker Fri 22-Mar-13 12:11:36

Yours might be, but I've never heard of them being used like that. The ones round here certainly aren't.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:12:39

Vinegar Drinker, sorry, they are not open 24 hours a day (more like 6 hours a day), but when they are open you can go in and feed. I didn't lie firstly because I'm not a liar and secondly because I didn't think I would need to. I was genuinely surprised.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:15:10

People saying I need to get used to there not being proper changing facilies, I have used the floor etc whilst out before I just went to the Centre because it was close by and warm, usually you can even have a a cup of tea in the lounge area and I thought as I'm allowed to go in to feed my baby I would also be able to just go to use their changing table.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:16:20

Maybe some receptionists are more lax than others?

Floggingmolly Fri 22-Mar-13 12:16:39

Why didn't you "drop in" to the baby clinic, then, instead of specifically announcing you'd come primarily to use the toilet? hmm

ThreeWheelsGood Fri 22-Mar-13 12:16:53

If it was a drop in, why not sign in and then change your baby, then leave? You shouldn't have asked the receptionist about only using the baby change. anyway, I've changed a baby on a cold loo floor (put changing mat down!), needs must, don't be precious. YABU I'm afraid.

ThreeWheelsGood Fri 22-Mar-13 12:17:42

X post with flogging!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:22:52

Thank you SCottishmerlottish. I don't have pelvic probs but I am registered, have been on several occasions for different reasons and yes, it was a drop in day.

YellowFishy Fri 22-Mar-13 12:22:55

I'm with you and think YANBU at all.
Sure start centres are funded by the public purse to provide services for the local community, with specific emphasis on mothers and babies.
Most centres struggle to get mothers through the door and therefore if they turn people people who wish to use baby friendly facilities to meet their children's needs they are isolating the very people they are there to support.
And as you are registered with them it is even more ridiculous.
If it had been me, it wouldn't have occurred to me to lie to the receptionist, but I too would have been absolutely shocked and appalled at their attitude.

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 12:25:09

you cant just walk in and out of these places I think she was a bit snippy with you but really they cant let people in they are not open to the public as such you have to contact them to use them, I work in somewhere similar not a childrens centre we have had mums knocking on the door asking to join the playgroup.

firawla Fri 22-Mar-13 12:26:43

I think yanbu from all the details you've given, especially as its open for anyone to go and feed then why not just let you use the changing table?!
My childrens centre where I used to live, i went in couple of times myself just to use the toilet on the way back from the park when I was heavily pregnant and it was quite far from park to my house and they were half way- they never minded!

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:27:03

I wasn't being precious and I would have done if I didn't think "hang on a minute, there's a drop in children's centre one minute away, the perfect place to change my baby out of the cold". You make it sound like I wouldn't dare do such a thing, I've changed him on the floor on several occasions but if I can do it in a more comfortable environment I will try to!

I didn't just sign in becuase I thought it was normal to be able use their facilities; I said " can I change my baby here", she said "no" -I am learning otherwise.

Eskino Fri 22-Mar-13 12:28:23

YANBU. You just made the mistake of asking the guard dog receptionist.

I use my sure start all the time, for bum changes, BFing, advice, its very conveniently situated next to the outdoor play area and as far as I'm aware it is a drop in centre.

If we don't use it, we lose it.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:29:07

Yellowfishy- this was exactly why I went there! Thank you for understanding my POV

puddock Fri 22-Mar-13 12:29:31

If you're registered there I think the receptionist was being a bit unreasonable and I'd mention it to another staff member next time you're down there - sure they don't want people being scared off..
But... our local Sure Start centre has stopped providing full changing facilities (you are welcome to change your baby there but must take nappies home with you) because of budget cuts - it costs a lot to get nappy bins emptied apparently - I wonder whether the same thing might be happening at yours, which might be behind the receptionist's attitude?

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 12:29:35

I dont think you were being precious at all and I think the receptionist was really snippy with you but sometimes they have regulations about privacy in these places. I would email the manager about it,

ElliesWellies Fri 22-Mar-13 12:30:07

YANBU - you are registered there, they had a drop-in going on, and you are allowed to go in to feed your baby. So I don't see why you couldn't nip in to use the baby changing facilities. You should have said I'm not just anybody, I'm a regular here.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:31:03

Eskino, likeFirawla and Yellowfishy -we are on the same wavelength!

Fakebook Fri 22-Mar-13 12:32:35

If they started allowing everyone in to change nappies, they'd have a very messy toilet and every Tom, Dick and Harry wanting to come in to change nappies. It's like the BHS in our city centre: you're not allowed to use their toilets without a receipt to prove you've purchased something grin.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 12:33:41

Puddock, that's interesting, perhaps that is what lies behind it. I suppose I should have questioned as to why I couldn't change my DS there..

Mumsyblouse Fri 22-Mar-13 12:37:50

So what if lots of people started going there and changing nappies? That way they might get lots more people in who don't normally go there (the 'hard to reach' mummies) to look at the stuff on offer, perceive there to be helpful and welcoming staff etc. SureStart have often had problems with recruiting in the local community- I don't see how the odd nappy change is going to be a huge big extra workload for them as the facilities have to be cleaned all the time anyway.

And, even if they weren't 'meant' to, they could have done so just to be kind. My children's school has let me in a few times to use the teacher's loos if I get caught at drop-off/pick-up.

drjohnsonscat Fri 22-Mar-13 12:41:39

sounds totally jobsworth to me.

What harm would it have done? I can't imagine local women queuing round the block just for the joy of using their babychanging facilities! Really can't imagine why there have to be rules and regulations about this and even if there is some reason why there are rules and regulations, couldn't someone employ a bit of common sense and kindness?

Tubegirl Fri 22-Mar-13 12:46:09

That's weird. I was specifically told at my local centre I could nip in any time they were open to use the facilities. Mind, there are rumblings about closing it so perhaps they are attempting to get more people in.

Havingkitties Fri 22-Mar-13 13:06:04

YANBU, but it looks like you've enraged some of the 'mummy martyrs' who feel you should change your baby on a cold skanky pee dribbled on loo floor just because if they suffered so should you, rather than try to use a publicly run service's baby change facilities.
The surestart centres near me are happy to let you drop in whenever they are open, to play, meet mums, feed, have the odd class on and BF group, so I can't see the problem in asking to change your baby there.

Cripes, offer to take the nappy home with you and give the change area a wipe down if it really means that much to them. You could write to them and highlight the unwelcoming attitude and ask them to clarify their purpose.

bassingtonffrench Fri 22-Mar-13 13:10:29

YANBU and I can't understand why people think you are.

it is not a big ask for an institution which is meant to be about catering to the needs of local children.

changing your baby on your knee is not a good idea.

Pigsmummy Fri 22-Mar-13 13:12:08

YABU it isn't a drop in centre and there vulnerable people there. They are very security conscious for that reason. I would have popped in somewhere else, weatherspoons are good for letting you pop in or I would have gone back to cafe and used the floor. There are changing mats that you can buy for your bag or parenting magazine are giving a free one. Just a small mat for a quick change when no facilities around.

hb84 Fri 22-Mar-13 13:16:41

I don't have a child and I often think people are being totally unreasonable and demanding when it comes to baby changing, but I really don' t think you are being unreasonable in this case. I'm surprised so many people on here think you are. The receptionist was totally rude. If it had been a cafe and you went in to use the baby changing room without buying anything I would have said you were being unreasonable, but you went into a place designed specifically for mothers with babies. Next time don't tell her why you are there. Just sign in and go for it, then leave.

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 13:55:28

hb84, I think I will follow that advice

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 13:56:53

Pigsmummy, I think the point point is, mine is a drop in centre for baby feeding so I assumed it would be OK to drop in a change him!

Habichuela Fri 22-Mar-13 13:58:55

Havingkitties, your message really made me laugh! But I see the serious side too. Thank you for making me see that I'm not being unreasonable! I think I might just write them !

DumSpiroSpero Fri 22-Mar-13 14:38:31

I am gobsmacked! I work at a Surestart Centre (admittedly a big one). We don't always have groups on, but we have a cafe and even if it isn't open anyone (even without kids) can come in and use the space/play area/books, feed, change and get cold water or a hot drink from the machine.

Even if w were holding an INSET day, I can't imagine anyone I work with turning away someone that needs to change their baby.

With an attitude like that they'll be lucky to stay open in the current climate - ridiculous.

Tanith Fri 22-Mar-13 16:26:30

Children's Centres are no longer a one-stop shop for all things child-related. Since the coalition government was elected, they have had their funding severely cut back; some are even in the hands of private nursery chains.

crashdoll Fri 22-Mar-13 17:09:26

"Thank you for making me see that I'm not being unreasonable!"

You appeared to think you were not being unreasonable anyway. hmm

ariane5 Fri 22-Mar-13 17:28:41


I don't see how they could say no to a mother wanting to use baby change facilities in a childrens centre??

MummytoKatie Fri 22-Mar-13 17:43:25

I think it that circumstance I'd have remembered that I hadn't had dd weighed for ages (I was surprisingly un-pfb about it so it would have been true!) and so signed in for the baby clinic.

DumSpiroSpero Fri 22-Mar-13 19:05:18

The funding issue is the all the more reason for them not to turn people away - we have to prove how many people come through our doors, the demographic of our users and whether we are hitting our 'target groups'.

If someone came into us to use the baby change facilities, we'd probably pin them to the nearest chair and give them a blow-by-blow account of all our facilities and services, before sending them on their way with a selection of flyers, programmes and application forms for the nursery school!

Ragwort Fri 22-Mar-13 19:10:06

YANBU - as others have said, this is a service provided by the tax payer and the receptionist sounds totally obnoxious not to allow a perfectly reasonable request.

Why do so many people love abusing their position of 'power' by being difficult?

Years ago I worked in customer services and one of our staff refused to allow a member of the public to use the toilet, it escalated into a huge complaint and could so easily have been dealt with by using common sense and kindness - but that seems to be a totally old fashioned view these days with all our 'health and safety' legislation.

YANBU. I would have done the same. They are normally friendly places. I would complain by email or phone to the centre manager. I thought they were drop in places for support, who knows what type of day you were having and needed a bit of kindness. Our local one is struggling so much due to funding cuts, as all of them are. I'm sure they would have been happy to have helped someone and reached their targets.

Footface Fri 22-Mar-13 20:13:42

I worked in a ss centre, and at one point we were threaten by particular parents and their family, due to child protection issues.

We made it policy then to not be in the centre on our own with people. It may well be a case that the receptionist was working alone that day

Shlurpbop Fri 22-Mar-13 20:17:04

YANBU - my local centre is brilliant and I would often pop in just to change a nappy and have a quick chat with the staff. Was a real lifesaver sometimes smile

b4bunnies Fri 22-Mar-13 20:18:50

its ridiculous

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