All venues are rated out of 5 according to the following baby-essential criteria:
Baby-friendliness: General feeling of venue towards a baby
Buggy access: Ease of getting a buggy in and parking by a table
Feeding: Comfort of breastfeeding (NB I do use an apron for discretion)
Changing: Change facilities
Food: Because I still want to eat well, even if I’m with bambino
Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s ‘green lung’ is a family haven. I’m there almost every day with dog and baby. Vondelpark3, renovated and re-opened in 2014, lies in an imposing listed building at the Eastern end of the park. It has huge terraces for sunny days and more restricted indoor space for hiding in during typical Dutch showers. They’re obviously doing something right – it’s constantly busy.
There are always babies, children of all ages and dogs present.
Buggy access: 4/5
The staff at Vondelpark3 have always gone out of their way to secure the table best suited to my buggy. Getting to the table – particularly when seated outside – can involve a tight squeeze between other tables and patrons.
No-one bats an eyelid.
Changing: – Yet to use.
Of all Vondelpark venues, this is the most upmarket. Pumpkin soup served on a rustic board in a mini copper pan; chicken caesar salad with big chunks of breast meat, anchovies, egg and potatoes; quinoa salad with fresh giant gambas and a creamy avocado paste. A step up from the traditional Dutch ‘broodje’. It’s also the most expensive, though not unreasonably so — expect to pay €14 for a salad.
Vondelpark3 // Website // 1071 AA Amsterdam // +31 (0)20 639 25 89
Situated on the affectionately nicknamed ‘birth street’ of Amsterdam (also home to a midwife practice, maternity care centre and birth hotel), it doesn’t get much more baby friendly than this buzzing neighbourhood brown cafe.
At lunchtime, particularly on weekdays, the majority of patrons have a baby or child of some age. It was the first place we took our little one, at just one week old, and they made a wonderful fuss of her.
Buggy access: 3/5
There is plenty of outdoor space which is ideal for buggies. But, the inside is small, narrow and trickier to navigate.
Absolutely not a problem.
There are only two small toilets but they’ve wisely included change facilities.
Possessed with the smallest working kitchen I’ve ever seen, the level of food produced is relatively miraculous. The cafe used to have a fantastic revolving specials menu but – perhaps due to said micro-kitchen – this has been drastically reduced. The limited selection includes one pasta, fish and meat option plus tapas choices. There are also more traditional sandwich options. It’s perfectly edible, but it used to be excellent.
Cafe Toussaint // Website // Bosboom Toussaintstraat 26, Amsterdam // +31 (0)20 685 07 37
Image: P.King Facebook page
Centrally located on the intersection of the Vijzelgracht and Herengracht, near Rembrantplein, cafe restaurant p.king is an oddity. Sounding very much like it should be an oriental restaurant, it’s menu is much more typically Dutch. It’s a surprisingly chic little cafe with a friendly owner and a much better choice than the touristy Rembrantplein options.
I’ve only been once, but the owner cooed over my baby and was obviously delighted to have her there. I also noted games and jigsaw puzzles stored on the shelf behind our table – a clear sign that families are welcome. Or games-loving adults.
Buggy access: 4/5
There is a very steep step in which is hard to navigate, but a staff member rushed to help me at the door with my buggy. It’s not a huge cafe but downstairs there’s plenty of space between tables. The upstairs would be difficult to get to.
Feeding: – Untested, but can’t imagine it being an issue
Changing: – Also untested. We were only there for an hour – I’m not just a very slovenly Mother.
The menu is mainly stereotypically Dutch. Both the chicken caesar salad and pannenkoeken (pancakes) are better than your average cafe. The lunch highlight, however, is their absolutely delicious, authentic-tasting, Tom ka kai (Thai chicken soup).
P.King // Website // Herengracht 515, Amsterdam // +31 (0)20 320 81 75
Does this American chain need introduction? Ok, it’s not a very imaginative choice and it’s certainly not typically Dutch. But it’s very convenient if you’ve got a baby.
My local, relatively new, Starbucks always has parents with prams in there. It’s not that the coffee retailer is specifically baby-friendly, they’re just non-discriminatory about their patrons. On weekdays, it is typically full of freelancers working studiously on laptops as they offer free Wi-fi. It could be parenting paranoia, but I’m not convinced these individuals would appreciate a crying baby disturbing their efforts.
Buggy access: 5/5
With the exception of a heavy door you need to ram open with your buggy if you’re alone, the space between tables and around the shop is huge. You could do a dance with your buggy if you wanted to.
Untested. There are some quieter tables towards the back, but I would feel a bit conscientious in some spots.
It’s Starbucks, you know what you’re going to get. You’re in safe territory with muffins and cookies. There is also a limited selection of sandwiches and salads, but lunch always feels like an afterthought. Something they chucked into the mix just in case someone is desperate.
Starbucks // Website // Overtoom 72, Amsterdam // +31 (0)20 320 81 75
Image: Cafe Belcampo
In Amsterdam’s Oud West, total renovation of an old train depot is underway. Inside the wide undercover halls of De Hallen is a cinema, unique shops, food hall and a public library next to which Cafe Belcampo sits. Designed as a ‘reading cafe’ its light spaciousness makes it a good pit-stop for babies.
I visited as part of a group of six women, all with buggies. We more or less took over. We had to do some significant table shuffling, which nobody rushed to help us with. On the other hand, they were perfectly happy for us to rearrange their furniture. There’s also no table service, which is a bit more complex when you’re holding a baby.
Buggy access: 4/5
There is plenty of space between tables. If we could – with some efforts – get six buggies around a table, one would be a cinch.
There was no objection to a large group of feeding women monopolising the cafe.
The disabled toilet, situated right by the cafe, includes baby-changing facilities and is perfectly large and clean.
I only had juice and a muffin so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. But a decision to go would be driven by the ease of access and overall vibe of De Hallen rather than the food.
Cafe Belcampo // Website // Hannie Dankbaarpassage 10, Amsterdam // +31 (0)20 303 28 86
Half-way up the busy Overtoom, this modern cafe with a cosy, dark ambiance has a hidden gem of an area in the back, as well as the best selection of bitterballen flavours in Amsterdam. They also do a great bilingual pub quiz on Mondays – one to leave the baby at home for.
A tale of two halves. The front of the cafe is small with tables and high bar stools relatively closely backed. In the back, however, is a pool table, long table and snug corner with leather sofas and games. Perfect for families to relax. A bonus for sports fans: they told us they were always happy to show any game on their TV (we were there for the rugby) if we phoned ahead.
Buggy access: 3/5
When we visited, there was a party of around 20 women taking over the front of the cafe. To get through to the back, we had to take the bassinet off the buggy wheels and then re-assemble. Not a big problem and the cafe staff were very helpful.
Even for the most conscientious, there are discreet dark corners to sit in.
Both male and female toilets are very small with no space for changing. We had to conduct changing in our buggy. This was no bother – we’re quite used to all sorts of alfresco changing – but I can’t rate their facilities highly for it.
Food is a cross between American diner, with an emphasis on miniature ‘slider’ burgers, plus assorted snacks. They have a huge range of bitterballen flavours (classic fried Dutch snacks), from classic beef to lobster or mushroom and truffle. This is not a venue for the health-conscious, it’s about sociable snacking. If you don’t mind your food meaty or fried you will absolutely love it.
Cafe Parck // Website // Overtoom 428, Amsterdam // +31 (0)20 412 53 35
Do you have any baby-friendly lunch venues in Amsterdam you’d recommend? Let me know, always on the look out for more to review!