Row after mum feeds baby at play centre

Fern McLenaghan with son Noel
Fern McLenaghan with son Noel
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A mum claims she has been banned from a children’s play and party centre after feeding her 14-month-old son.

Fern McLenaghan says she had taken her own home-prepared meal - a healthier, cheaper option, she claimed, to the centre’s own food - for her son Noel.

Cheeky Monkey's play centre

Cheeky Monkey's play centre

But bosses at Cheeky Monkey’s, in Whittle-le-Woods, say she had adult food and became “quite aggressive and rude” when asked to put it away.

They say parents can take their own food and drinks to the centre for babies and that was not why she was asked to leave.

Fern, 27, said: “I had a pasta sauce and broccoli meal, something I made myself.

“Staff came over when I went to put it in the microwave. They told me to put it away, you’re not allowed to feed your son.

“As a children’s play centre we welcome families of babies and understand parents may want to bring their child’s own food, milk and drinks.”

Lorraine Kearney

“I said I’m not going to stop feeding him his lunch.

“She said you’re banned from Cheeky Monkey’s. You’re not allowed to come here again.

“I was just gobsmacked.

“The manager came charging over and said I’d spoken to the staff in a disgusting way.

“I just said I’m not going to stop feeding my son.”

Fern, of Lostock Hall, had attended a Rock ‘n’ Learn sensory and music session run at the centre on Kem Mill Lane with Noel.

She says they had been to the class nearly every week since Noel was three weeks old and she always took her own food to eat for lunch afterwards.

But she claims this time when staff saw what she was doing, she was told to buy food on sale at the centre instead of giving him the pasta she had taken along.

Fern said: “They said I couldn’t feed my son because it was homemade food. They said it was health and safety and they were going on about allergens.”

And she says a half-hour row erupted and she was told to leave - but denies being aggressive and rude.

She claims she has heard that other parents have since been told they can only take pre-packaged food to the centre or buy food there.

And she is upset that Noel can no longer go to the Rock ‘n’ Learn sessions.

She had hoped to go back following the incident, but does not want to take her son to Cheeky Monkey’s and be turned away.

Fern said: “This group we have been going to for a year that my son gets a lot out of, they are saying he can’t go anymore.

“It’s really silly. It’s got really out of hand.”

Lorraine Kearney, director of Northwest Play And Party Ltd, which owns Cheeky Monkey’s, said: “As a children’s play centre we welcome families of babies and understand parents may want to bring their child’s own food, milk and drinks.

“As such, we support our customers in doing this by providing complimentary facilities such as a customer microwave, bottle warmer, plates, baby sip cups, children’s cutlery, high chairs, baby bouncers, baby changing facilities, spare nappies and wipes, should parents require to use them.

“Cheeky Monkey’s has received a level five food hygiene rating every year for the last 11 years, the most recent inspection being June 19, 2015. We are always complimented on our facilities, food hygiene practices and we are proud to report the last inspection was no exception.

“All customers sign in at reception before they enter the centre and agree to adhere to our entry rules, one of which is customers are respectfully asked not to bring in their own food for consumption, this of course excludes babies or customers who may have special dietary requirements.

“A lady had attended a Rock ‘n’ Learn class in the morning and afterwards took advantage of the free play session Cheeky Monkey’s offers to all customers attending classes. This lady had signed in at reception and as a regular visitor of the class was fully aware of the entry rules.

“However, she had chosen to bring a large cooler bag with her own adult food and when the staff politely asked her to not consume her adult food in the centre she refused to put it away and became quite aggressive and rude. Our staff were carrying out their duties and they did not deserve to be treated in such an offensive manner as they were, under any circumstances.

“It was for this reason only that our general manager asked the lady to leave, not because the lady was feeding her baby/toddler, which as we have explained is entirely welcomed here at Cheeky Monkey’s. The lady refused to leave and stayed for the duration of her free play session.

“We have thousands of happy customers of all ages, with a variety of dietary requests/allergies and as such we take seriously the responsibility to control the food consumed in our centre.”