Baby Cafe, the drop-in center that provides support for new parents, is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Based on the UK model of Baby Café, the community group was started by childbirth educator and beijingkids board member Anne Hemsley in 2011.
“I wanted to see if there was a way that I could offer my lifetime of experience working in the field of midwifery to help other new parents,” she says. Initially, Hemsley attended La Leche League’s monthly meetings, but eventually found that she had the time to offer a weekly support group.
After finding out about the UK-based Baby Cafe chain, she applied for a license – and the rest is history. Over the past 15 months, Hemsley has helped hundreds of new moms and their babies in their breastfeeding journey.
On July 4, Baby Cafe celebrated 12 months in China with a special Baby Cafe for dads. “Many of the fathers just wanted to see what happened during a typical Baby Cafe session,” says Hemsley. “Like all good parties, the majority of the parents ended up hanging out in my kitchen area.”
One of the most important aspects of Baby Cafe is the opportunity for new moms to interact with each other. “I like to think that by offering a comfortable venue and breastfeeding advice on demand, mums have an opportunity to ask about any problems [they]encounter and share the many challenges of raising a baby in Beijing.”
Many moms even bring relatives and friends to the meetings. “We had four generations from a Chinese family recently!” says Hemsley. Baby Cafe has a diverse following; often, the sessions are split between expat and local Chinese moms. Parents come from all over the world, including the US, the UK, Europe, and Latin America.
Frequent topics of conversation include different breastfeeding positions, sleep patterns, weaning and solid foods, where to go on a holiday with a baby, and more.
More recently, Hemsley has invited special guests to speak at weekly meetings. These include Parent Effectiveness Training instructor, author, and fellow beijingkids board member Kathryn Tonges, nutritionist and beijingkids columnist Olivia Lee, and baby massage therapist Pip Hulbert.
To protect the participants’ privacy, Hemsley doesn’t publicize Baby Cafe’s address. However, any breastfeeding mom can reserve a space in the weekly meetings by emailing her with the name, age, and date of birth of their baby. However, the group only accepts non-mobile babies due to a lack of space.
For more information, contact Hemsley at firstname.lastname@example.org. And happy birthday, Baby Cafe!