Addressing the risk of hot drinks in a Baby Café setting

The Baby Café Handbook includes a brief Child Safety Protocol.

Two relevant aspects of this are:

  • Parents/carers are responsible for their own child/ren at all times.
  • All efforts are made to ensure the environment is safe for babies and young children.

The Baby Café protocol also has to be considered alongside any other relevant organizaytion policy-so check yours out. Some areas require a full risk assessment to be undertaken. This involves:

  • Identifying the risk
  • Identifying who is at risk
  • Implementing strategies to reduce the risk

Regular review strategies to reduce the risk of hot drink spillages (taken from The Baby Café Handbook) can include:

  • Display signs/provide information leaflet reminding parents about any potential hazards within the environment.
  • Consider the arrangement of furniture—part of creating a welcoming, friendly atmosphere is making sure mothers feel safe, physically as well as emotionally. Tables, seating and toddler play areas can be sited where the risk of drinks being knocked over is reduced. Check out insurance—this will depend on the venue, funding source and your own employment status.

Our Resource Bank for Baby Café Facilitators includes both a sample risk assessment and a sign for parents that can be adapted for your own use.

Bear in mind that many non-Baby Café health care activities also carry a certain amount of risk, e.g. an undressed baby being weighed carries the risks that baby might become cold, be dropped or wriggle off the scales and fall; this does not mean that these are reasons to discontinue weighing vulnerable babies.

What mothers say...

Mothers have told us that they feel well aware of the many child safety issues both inside and outside the home, for example toddlers treading on babies, toddlers choking on toys or bits of toast, children opening the safety gate and running outside or falling and banging their head. They considered the risk from hot drinks to be similar—a risk that can be minimised with care —and rebelled against the idea that they had to either forego their refreshment or leave their baby to go into a separate room to drink their coffee.

The Department of Health's 'Latching On: Good practice and innovation in breastfeeding initiation projects' describes The Baby Café drop-in centre:

'The informal, relaxed 'café' style drop-in, was influenced by popular 'café culture' with quality refreshments and a positive brand image to attract mothers. The lactation consultant and facilitator were always on hand to help with any specific problems, but the emphasis was on mother-to-mother support.'

Since breastfeeding mothers are often isolated, segregated and discriminated against (whether subtly or obviously; at home or in public) one of The Baby Café's key concepts is that a Baby Café centre is a place where all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are welcome and are able to access information, help and support. It would be retrograde, and possibly discriminatory, to deny mothers the opportunity to access skilled help and meet with their peers over a cup of coffee.

Click here to access resources from the CDC on Child Safety


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