A few weeks ago, I was searching on the internet for a book rack for my kids’ room. During my search, I came across an Ikea “hacking” site and found this idea . . .
This was perfect (and a much better option than the expensive book racks I had found so far). I decided I needed to make a trip to the Ikea in New Haven to get some book-holding supplies (and maybe some other goodies).
When we arrived, the parking lot was fairly empty (Yay. Maybe it won’t be very crowded inside).
If you go on a busy day, you can park in the Family Friendly Parking area. It is located on the left side of the building if you are facing the building. I didn’t use it when I was there, but Shawna checked it out today. She said that even though the main parking lot was packed, there were plenty of spaces in the family friendly area.
I decided to bring the kids into the store in our double stroller. When shopping, I usually put one in the shopping cart and carry one in the baby bjorn, but I was not planning on buying many things and they really could use a little nap, so I decided to go with the stroller.
If you decide to use a cart, here are the alternatives . . .
When we got inside, I grabbed my supplies. A big yellow shopping bag, a map (promise me, you need this), and a notepad and pencil for marking what I wanted to get.
I also saw a kiosk near the entrance and found out that if you sign up for an Ikea Family card, you get a free coffee or tea every time you visit. I love free stuff, so I signed up!
Here are the things you get with your Ikea Family card (which is free):
Free coffee or tea in the restaurant
Member discounts on some items in the store
Free frozen yogurt (one time)
Chance to win Ikea gift cards every time you shop
30 extra minutes at Småland (more details on this below)
I checked out the map to get the lay of the land.
Basically, the upstairs area is the location of the restaurant and showrooms. After filling your belly and looking at all the cool ways you can use Ikea products, you then head back down to the first floor. On the first floor, you can pick up items from the Marketplace or the self-serve furniture section.
So, if you see a product you like in the showroom, look at the tag and write down on your handy dandy notepad either where in the marketplace it is located or what aisle/bin location it is in the self-serve furniture section.
Me and the kids were hungry (and I wanted my free coffee), so we decided to head up to the restaurant first. Before we headed upstairs, though, I was intrigued by what looked like a kids play area near the escalator.
You can sort of see the entryway in this picture below.
The place is called Småland and it is a FREE children’s supervised play area. I thought Småland was just a creative Swedish name for the kids area, but my Swedish friend, Lisa, let me know that Småland, Sweden is where the Ikea headquarters is located. I thought that was interesting.
Anyways, Småland is a supervised play area where your kids can play while you shop. My kiddos were too little to use the facility so I don’t have first-hand information on the experience, but here is what I learned:
To use the play area, kids must be potty trained and between 37″ and 56″ (basically around 3-10 years old)
The play area has a ball pit, movies, games, crafts, and more..
Kids can stay in the play area for 30 minutes (though I have no idea how you can get much done in Ikea in 30 minutes)
If you sign up to be part of the “Ikea Family”, they can stay in the play area for an extra 15 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays and an extra 30 minutes during the week
The play area is open from 10am – 8pm
The person that drops the child off in the play area has to be the same one that picks them up (basically one parent can’t drop them off and then another parent pick them up)
They provide you with a pager that they can use to contact you if anything comes up while you are shopping
Kids using the play area need to be wearing socks (I don’t remember them mentioning this at the store, but they told me this when I called later to get the hours)
and most importantly, it’s FREE!
The person running the play area would not allow me to take pictures, so I don’t have any. But a quick google search did pull up some other blogs that have written about the Småland experience and were able to post a few pics. Most were pretty positive. One had a few good pictures. Click on the picture below to go to the post.
So, if you have kids that meet the requirements, looks like you can get 30 minutes to an hour of kid-free time!
But alas, mine are too wittle to get dropped off, so we headed upstairs to the restaurant (via the elevator located behind the escalator).
On my elevator ride, there was a sign promoting all the ways Ikea is kid friendly . . .
In the restaurant, I wanted to pick up a snack for Bruiser and Sparkles, a FREE coffee for me, and I really wanted to try out the Swedish meatballs (just because they are always promoting them). Apparently meatballs come in orders of 5. Given that I was just getting a snack, I ordered the 5 meatballs and also got a side of mac n’ cheese (this southern girl likes her mac n’ cheese). The food was pretty reasonably priced:
- 5 meatballs (99¢)
- Mac n’ cheese (99¢)
- Coffee (FREE)
- Yogurt ($1.29)
- Apple Sauce (99¢)
After finishing our food, we started our adventure through the rest of the second floor, the showrooms. We followed the arrows marked on the ground and weaved our way through each section. It is important to follow the arrows, otherwise, I promise you will get lost!
I then picked up this fun tunnel (also $15) for Bruiser and Sparkles.
I also wrote down the location of the kids chairs I wanted to pick up. We then weaved our way around to the kitchen area.
I picked up some pantry organizers and a wine bottle holder that I’m hoping to be able to use as a towel holder in my bathroom (I had an Ikea Hacker inspiration, we’ll see how it turns out).
I found some of the items I was looking for, but couldn’t (for the life of me) find the spice rack. I also couldn’t find an Ikea person to help me. Ahhhh! Frustration was starting to set in and my little natives were starting to get restless.
I decided to head over and grab the small furniture I wanted. I located the aisle and bin, saw the cute chairs, but then realized that I had already grabbed too many other items and there was no way I could carry out these chairs as well.
Tired babies + tired mommy = time to go. I was done. I made the executive decision that we needed to get this show on the road and go ahead and check out with what we had.
I headed over to the check out area, and became even more frustrated when I realized that the only open lanes were self check-out lanes. Now I am normally perfectly happy to check out myself, but with two babies in tow, I needed some help. No luck!
So I fumbled through the check out process and was really worn out by the time that was done. Before we headed out of the store, however, I wanted to get a quick diaper change in for the kiddos. We made our way to the baby care area.
This was actually a perfect place for families. The area had two rooms. You could head in and lock the door and have access to both spaces for just your family. One room had a restroom and baby changing area. The other room had a place to sit, room for the stroller and toys for older kids. There was plenty of room to move around and attend to yourself and your children. Very family friendly in my opinion!
Overall, I think our trip to Ikea was pretty successful. As a new mom, it was interesting for me to see how family friendly the store is. I also enjoyed grabbing some yummy food and roaming through the showrooms.
I think in the future I may need to search a little harder for some help in the marketplace and self-service furniture areas. I’m sure there were people around, I was just too busy dealing with fussy babies to be able to find them.
On my next trip, it will be a bit more targeted, because I know exactly what additional items I need. For that trip, we definitely will be using a shopping cart!
Then, when the kids turn 3, maybe my husband and I will just have date-night here. Drop the kids off at Småland, grab a bite to eat, and do some shopping. I think the only issue will be that there isn’t an option to have a cocktail while we shop! I have a few years to convince Ikea to build a beverage station. I’m sure I can make that happen 🙂
450 Sargent Drive, New Haven, CT
Get directions here:
Store: Monday – Sunday 10:00am to 9:00pm
Restaurant: Monday-Sunday 9:30am to 8:30pm
Småland: Monday – Sunday 10:00am to 8:00pm
RESTROOM FACILITIES: Baby Care Rooms on each floor
CHANGING STATION: Yes
Comfortable shoes (there is a lot of ground to cover here)
Snacks for the wee ones (You will be here for a while. If you don’t bring snacks, there are lots of food options in the restaurant)
Kid transport options (again, there is a lot of ground to cover. Either bring a stroller, a baby carrier or use one of the shopping carts. )
Socks for kids that plan to use Småland.
Your Ikea Family card (or sign up for one when you arrive)
Family friendly shopping
Lots of fun, cost-effective goodies available for purchase
Free child care (for the older kiddos)
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT:
Cashier check-out option needed
More customer service is needed in the marketplace and self-service furniture area
Join us on Thursday when Shawna will give you ideas for extending your New Haven visit into a family friendly day trip.