I ran a Facebook poll last week asking whether I should write up a guide to buggy friendly cafes or a guide about cafes with something for everyone. The margin was pretty slim and Something for Everyone narrowly won.
These cafes are the places you can retreat to as a parent safe in the knowledge that your child will be happy to play, draw or eat something delicious; the places you will return to for those slithers of parenting wins.
I’ve focused on the cafes that I know and love, I’m planning to visit a handful of places in Haywards Heath and Lindfield over the next few days and I’m really itching to get round a few more child-friendly places in Brighton. What I’m saying is that this isn’t an exhaustive list and will inevitably grow over time.
Do you have a suggestion that I’ve missed off? Why not contact me and tell me all about your favourite child-friendly cafe that has everything a parent could want?
So without further ados, here are the Mid Sussex Something For Everyone Cafes.
I went with my parents and the girls after school recently. We stopped in for a lovely little round of cakes and hot drinks
A stylish cafe on the corner of the roundabout in the heart of Ditchling. The Green Welly won the Muddy Stilettos cafe of the year in 2017; it’s easy to see why. It’s warm and friendly and tastefully decorated.
During our visit, I spent most of the time with the big one snuggled into me on the cosy sofa at the back of the cafe, listening to her read. There’s a fantastic selection of children’s books stacked up on a little bookshelf. The little one was happy to do some colouring with Nanny; Grandad caught up on some business emails.
The Food & Drink
All the usual cafe favourites. Great coffee, indulgent hot chocolates, a big selection of teas, local fruit juices and soft drinks; they’re licensed so if you fancy a glass of something stronger, they have a very well chosen wine list. I’ve had lunch here without the girls a few times and they offer some super delicious salads, quiches and sandwiches. It’s a great selection of lunchtime food. The cakes and pastries change regularly and they have something for everyone, so if you’re vegan, or have a gluten- or dairy-allergy you won’t have to miss out on cake with your coffee or tea.
There’s a great kids’ lunch menu. We haven’t taken the girls to the Green Welly for lunch but I was really impressed with the selection on offer to children. Small bowls of soup, sandwiches, junior dippy eggs… plus lots of other options. When I looked at the kids’ menu it felt well considered. They also have lots of lovely local juices and milky drinks for little ones.
There’s a small pile of simple toys, plenty of books to read and colouring books and pencils to keep children occupied. It feels like visiting a particularly thoughtful grandparents’ house. Things for children to do, but not over the top piles of plastic. We really enjoyed our after school trip and will be back for lunch soon.
I think they’ve struck a fantastic balance. Earning them a very well deserved place in the Something for Everyone category!
You can find The Green Welly at 1 High Street, Ditchling, East Sussex, BN6 8SY. The closest parking is the Ditchling Village Hall car park (BN6 8TT) and parking is free. During winter the Green Welly is open Tuesday – Sunday 8.30am – 4pm.
This has become one of our favourite local places to visit with the girls and we drop in for coffee or lunch when we can.
Sussex Mother is next door to the garden centre Garden Sage. There’s plenty of parking so it’s the perfect place to go if you’ve got a baby and / or toddler.
Once inside, it’s a really impressive, light space. As soon as you walk in, you’re surrounded by loads of lush houseplants, which look incredible. Further down there’s a gift shop selling lots of interesting things from local craft makers; and beyond is the cafe’s counter covered in scrummy cakes. The big tables in the main room are nicely spaced and would make a great spot to meet with NCT friends and newborns or, just with friends for a gossip.
Next door is another room with a children’s play area. This is perfect for toddlers and little kids; I really wish this had been here a few years ago. The playroom is brilliantly thought through with stacks of books, softplay equipment, a slide, some cool wicker chairs with cushions, a mini foosball table and lots of tables for grown-ups to sit at. Plus a sofa and some little tables too. I’ve brought the girls together and the little one by herself and they both really enjoy playing or hanging out with stories here.
The Food & Drink
The owners of Sussex Mother take a huge amount of pride in using lots of local produce and creating delicious food, with incredibly well chosen fresh ingredients. There’s lots of options. It’s very much a reflection of our flexitarian diet, with vegan and veggie options on the menu alongside a handful of meat options.
The Husband was working from home a couple of weeks ago, so we popped in for lunch with the Little One. She had an apple juice (local of course) and a little bowl of humous with veg sticks and pitta bread; we had toasted bagels with local pastrami, tomato, dill pickles and mustard mayo and coffee. The other half had a gorgeous piece of vegan Victoria sponge for pudding (I’ll admit to snaffling a nibble too). It was all really delicious. A total lunchtime treat.
It goes without saying that the draw for parents is the play area and the great coffee and cake. But to have some wholesome lunch and snack options, a gift shop for emergency gifts or treats, space to park and take a buggy makes it an all-round winner. I mean for parents with babies and young children, what more could you want or need?
You can find Sussex Mother on London Road, Hassocks, BN6 9NB. Plenty of parking is available on site. Make sure you look out for the signs for Garden Sage when approaching on London Road. They are open Tuesday to Sundays from 9.30 am during the week, 9am on Saturdays closing at 5pm and 10am till 4pm on Sundays.
This unassuming cafe on London Road is super cosy and perfect for parents and their small people. Out of the cafes mentioned so far, this is less buggy friendly. That’s not to say that you can’t get a buggy in there, but it is smaller. But what it lacks in space it makes up in cosy, warm charm and hospitality.
We went to the park opposite for a scoot around a month or so ago. It was a pretty drizzly day, and when it started to rain we decided to head into the cafe for much needed babycino and latte.
The Food & Drink
We didn’t eat but the food being cooked in the kitchen smelled yummy and the lunch menu looked homely and inviting. They offer lots of brunch options as well as daily specials. There were loads of nice looking cakes on the counter too. Again, they offer all the usual drinks you’d expect to find in a decent coffee shop. We arrived just before lunch time and the little one had already had her fruit snack in the park. We just stopped in to stay out of the rain and to warm up with some drinks.
Again, it’s super child-friendly. We were in the cafe mid-morning and it was all mums and pre-schoolers. We found a lovely little corner in the back room, which is light and bright and has a bench with cushions scattered along it. There’s a cute box of children’s books at child height in an alcove. It’s nice that they can go and have a browse themselves. The Little One chose Pinnochio. She loved having a story alongside her babycino after her busy morning of scooting around the skate park and playing in the playground.
It’s a warm and laid-back cafe and very easy to keep small children entertained in here if they’re happy with a story, and have burned off all their wiggles in the park.
You can find On The Park at 155 London road, Burgess Hill, RH15 8LH. If you need to park nearby there’s some on-street parking outside or parking just over the road at St. John’s Tennis Courts (you’ll need a Mid Sussex parking disc). The cafe is open from Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 4pm and Sunday 10am – 4pm.
Other Cafés Worth A Mention
HOME Coffee House – The King’s Centre, 33-35 Victoria Road, Burgess Hill, RH15 9LR
Great coffee, lots of free parking, lovely little play area for under 3s.
Wayfield Farm Shop and Cafe – London Road, Pyecombe, BN45 7ED
Free parking, outdoors play equipment for little ones, lots of space inside, great kids’ menu, hearty portions.
The Tree House Softplay Cafe – Unit 3, 2-8 Sussex Road, Haywards Heath
This is a really lovely little soft play cafe for pre-schoolers. I’ve included it because the food is much better than your average soft play cafe. I had a really decent bowl of vegan cauliflower and spinach soup when I took the Little One recently; she had half a jacket potato with cheese and beans. There’s meter parking in the Mid-Sussex county council car park opposite, which you approach from Franklynn Road.
Washbrook Family Farm – Brighton Road, Hurstpierpoint, BN6 9EF
We love Washbrooks in our family. If you’re looking for the ultimate child-friendly place to eat out, Washbrooks is ideal. This isn’t so much for grown-ups but the food in the cafe is really good. And if you have a noisy or tantrum prone toddler or tricky baby (I had both; at the same time) you will not be judged and this can stand for a lot in testing times. They have lots of fun things to look at in the cafe and plenty of colouring and farm themed worksheets to fill in while you wait. You don’t have to pay to use the cafe if you’re just swinging in for a bite to eat. There’s loads of parking, heaps of choice on the kids’ menu and lots of yummy options for grown-ups too. It’s a spacious cafe with lots of high chairs available and spaces for buggies outside. My two adore the mac and cheese; I’m partial to the seasonal soups and veggie chillis; the selection of cakes is great too. We love the cosy wood burning stove in winter and outdoor tables under shade in summer.