As any new mum knows, coffee quickly becomes essential to survival! And chatting to other parents over a coffee can save your sanity on a difficult day. So here are some of my favourite cafes in Woodford, Wanstead and the local West Essex and North East London area that are child-friendly. This means they accommodate babies and buggies, have high chairs, some of them have kid-friendly food and toys for the children but most importantly they have a positive attitude to our noisy, messy little people. Feel free to send me your recommendations for your favourite family-friendly cafes that you like to visit with your own children.
This bright and airy cafe is part of the All Saints’ Woodford Wells Church building which hosts a whole series of brilliant baby and toddler classes, activities and a pre-school. It is frequently busy with parents and children before or after classes but there is plenty of space for buggies so it’s a great place to meet up with other mums or dads even if you’re not attending a session there. There are high chairs and toilets with changing facilities. The car park usually gets very busy so you can park on Inmans Road which is pay and display.
Address: All Saints’ Church, Inmans Row, Woodford Green, IG8 0NH
More information: The Atrium website
This relatively new cafe is a welcome addition to Wanstead High Street, even though it’s hardly short of cafes. Straight away I liked the friendly vibe and decor and the chocolate mint cookie was pretty amazing too. There’s a kids menu and even treats for dogs. It’s not huge so you can’t fit loads of buggies in at once. However, the day I brought the little one in there were two other mums with their buggies. At the back down a little step there are some more chairs and toys for the little people as well as board games for older children (or adults). Although the step is tricky to navigate with a buggy, staff were happy to help. There’s also baby changing facilities.
Address: 7 High Street, Wanstead, London, E11 2AA
More information: Bare Brew website
On the edge of Epping Forest, this is one cafe I return to time and again and always bring visitors to when they come to stay. Run by the same people who own The Larder, the coffee is great and the cakes are delicious. We like to sit outside so our son can run around and climb up and down the wooden steps. You can read my full review of Butler’s retreat cafe here.
Address: 12 Ranger’s Rd, Chingford, London E4 7QH
More information: Butler’s Retreat, Chingford
While I usually try to support independent coffee shops where possible, I’m still waiting for a decent one to open up close to my house in Woodford Green. This Costa is handy when you’re popping into the Co-op in Woodford Bridge and it is surprisingly spacious inside. This means you can fit multiple buggies in there and the staff are friendly and welcome kids. There are high chairs and the local NCT Redbridge group also holds coffee meet-ups here.
More information: Costa Coffee Woodford Bridge Facebook page
Address: 688-690 Chigwell Road, Woodford, Redbridge IG8 8AH
I know, I know, despite what I said above about favouring independent coffee shops the reality is sometimes location is everything. This cafe upstairs in the big Mothercare store in Edmonton just off the North Circular A406 and near Ikea, is definitely winning in terms of child-friendly location. You can do your Mothercare shopping and basically the cafe is right next to the soft play centre in the Mothercare store and so you can let the little darlings loose while having a coffee and a sit down and keeping an eye on them at the same time. (Well that’s the idea, unless your toddler decides he’s changed his mind and wants to leave as soon as you have paid for the soft play and just ordered your coffee! <sigh>)
Address: Ravenside Retail Park, Angel Rd, London N18
More information: Costa Coffee, Mothercare Edmonton Instagram
I first discovered this cafe soon after I moved to the area and I did a lampshade making workshop there one evening with the lovely owner. While they no longer seem to run regular workshops there are late night painting evenings. However, if it’s a daytime caffeine fix you’re after this is a really useful spot to know about as it is a ceramics cafe which means the little ones can get creative while you enjoy a hot drink. Their chocolate brownies are pretty legendary but they also do sandwiches, soups and jacket potatoes. The kids can paint anything from plates and cups to flowerpots and money boxes.
Address: 61 George Lane, South Woodford, London, E18 1JJ
More information: Creative Biscuit website
I was very happy when this cafe opened opposite the duck pond on the High Road and it meant we finally had a lovely independent cafe in Woodford Green. The coffee is good, there are healthy snacks for kids and they do a good selection of breakfast and lunch dishes as well as cakes. As they name suggests they are a deli as well with lots of yummy food including chutneys, bread and home made baked goods such as sausage rolls. Although next to the main road, I like the fact the outdoor seats are in the sunshine and while it looks small there is an extra room out the back with more seating. This still has the old oven in place from when this used to be a bakery. The spacious toilet has baby changing facilities and the service is always very friendly.
Address: 425 High Road, Woodford Green, Essex, IG8 0XG
More information: Deli on the Green website
This is a lovely place to visit on a sunny day. There are lots of tables outdoors in the walled kitchen garden and it’s a pretty spot surrounded by flowers where little people can run around. If the rain descends the only downside is space is limited inside the cafe but the outside umbrellas are pretty big, so if it’s just a shower you’ll find lots of people being very British about it and trying to ignore the raindrops! The cafe has a selection of drinks, snacks, jacket potatoes and sandwiches and while the food is not really the main reason I’d head there, it’s a great place to refuel before or after a walk around Valentine’s park and the children’s playground there.
Address: Valentine’s Mansion & Gardens, Emerson Rd, Ilford IG2 6EP
More information: Gardener’s Cottage Cafe Facebook page
Ray Lodge is our local park so we spend a lot of time there and the cafe is very handy, as well as the toilets and baby change within the James Leal building. There is also a small soft play area next to the cafe for children under 4 years old. There’s lots of space inside for buggies and plenty of outside seating. Some of their home cooked cakes and biscuits are very good and there is a selection of sandwiches, snacks and jacket potatoes. To be honest, I’d like to see more healthy options on the menu, especially for kids as lots of things come with chips but I guess that’s pretty common in lots of places but I notice it more as we are so often! The service could also be a bit friendlier and a bit more polite than I have witnessed on occasion.
Address: Ray Lodge Park, Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green IG8 7GL
More information: James Leal centre cafe Facebook page
Despite all the newcomers to the cafe scene in Wanstead one of the originals, The Larder, is still my favourite and a place I visit time and again with the kids in tow. The coffee is lovely, food is great and they have child-friendly snacks. And very importantly they also have a booze licence so you can have a sneaky glass of wine or beer too. The service is unfailingly friendly and welcoming with staff frequently rushing to hold open doors while I struggle through with babies and toddlers. The small fenced-in play area is a brilliant distraction for toddlers and older babies and there are lots of high chairs and baby changing facilities. Its popularity means that it can get busy with other mums so the only downside is that you can’t fit lots of buggies in at the same time for a group meetup. It’s an equally lovely place in summer – enjoying the sun at the outside tables – as well as winter where I’ve frequently settled in for a cosy hour or so as the rain lashes down outside.
Address: 39 High St, Wanstead, London E11 2AA
More information: The Larder website
Like The Larder, Lily’s Indulgence is another firm favourite with local mums due to the warm and friendly service where children and babies are positively welcomed. The cakes are stunning and it’s always hard to pick just one and they even make birthday cakes to order as well. There are healthy salads and lovely sandwiches too and plenty of space for buggies inside. There’s a playpen for babies and toys for toddlers as well as chalk and a blackboard for doodling on the wall.
Address: 107B George Ln, London E18 1AN
More information: Lily’s Indulgence Facebook page
While I was on maternity leave and meeting up with lots of other mums in Wanstead and we couldn’t fit in other cafes with all our buggies, the staff were always very helpful in Nice Croissant, even moving tables around to squeeze us all in. And the cakes, patisserie and baked goods are always delicious. They welcome kids, have high chairs and also a basket of toys which provides welcome distraction. While if I’m being honest, the decor and ambience wouldn’t be my main reason for going the food and service makes it a very good option.
Address: 119A High St, Wanstead, London E11 2RL
More information: Nice Croissant website
This is not strictly a cafe as it’s just a refreshment kiosk, known as the Tea Hut, but this little gem in Wanstead Park is one of our favourites. We love a run through the trees and around Wanstead Park and I’m not ashamed to say that the promise of a Mr Whippy ice cream at the kiosk is a big draw for me as well as the children. There soft ice cream cones are really lovely here but I also love the fact the tea and coffee comes in real mugs. The cakes are also home made and very reasonably priced and the people serving always seem friendly. As it’s a kiosk, all the seating is in the open air so come dressed appropriately. As it’s just opposite Heronry Pond, it’s the perfect place to watch the ducks with the children while enjoying your drink or snack. In the summer of 2017, new picnic seating and benches were added near the Tea Hut but as it can get busy it’s can be a good idea to bring a blanket then you can picnic anywhere.
Address: Near Heronry Pond, Wanstead Park E11 2LT
More information: City of London website
If you haven’t been here yet you must go as soon as possible and load up on the cakes! The nata – Portugese tarts – with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar are amazing. I’m considering petitioning the owners to come and open a branch in Woodford Green although I think I’d eat my own body weight in cake. As the title suggests, they are a bakery so there is loads of lovely fresh bread as well as cakes and great coffee. Service is friendly, there are toys at the back and they do adorable little babyccinos for the little ones. There isn’t tons of space though so while you can fit a buggy in there, it’s probably not the place to meet for a mass meet up with multiple buggies but if you’re in the area get some cake to take away.
Address: 654 High Road, Leytonstone, London, E11 3AA
More information: Wild Goose Bakery