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The unspoken rules of leaving baby outside coffee shops

An interesting question was raised today about when it is ’ok’, and when it is absolutely not ok to leave baby outside sleeping in their pram whilst you run into a coffee shop to grab your caffeine kick and go …Or whilst you take a seat, sit down and drink your coffee in peace?

The hilarious thing about this is that depending on your context, some of you are already totally horrified that you just read that; others, in a better climate are wondering why you would ever need to go inside to order a coffee 🙂

In towns and cities all over Sweden stand what may appear to be abandoned prams, actually even (peacefully sleeping) babies, possibly droves of them along side walks. In a less observant moment you might not notice that they are up against the wall or window of a cafe – and as such (as any two year old will tell you – ”if I’m touching it it’s mine!”) ’belong’ to customers there who have everything but abandoned it!

I have however finally deciphered the ’written in stone’, unspoken rules (at least, in Sweden) about how to go about this:

Firstly, to get in and order your coffee – pram visibility…

1. If the door into the coffee shop is less than 50% glass – it’s a NO (even if you’re not putting your pram in front of the door; the transparency of the door insinuates no separation… so it’s still a NO)!

2. If there isn’t a window directly next to the door (max 30cm between) – it’s a NO

3. If space by the window is already over populated with prams – it’s a NO

If any of the NOs above are in place but you are ABSOLUTELY DESPERATE for coffee (so, any day basically), there’s a trick, but you need a moment when there aren’t hordes of people wanting to come in after you! – you hover in the doorway; you need to keep rocking your pram forward and back a bit – to clearly signal that there is a reason you are standing there and not coming in! – and you wait until it’s your turn to order; signal the personnel; place your order and only when absolutely necessary – leave your pram (wedged in the doorway) to pay – glancing back at least once on the way to the till, at least once while at the till and obviously all the way back.

Additionally, if you want to sit inside and drink your coffee:

1. You want a window seat, right by your pram – after all as we already established – glass is transparent, it might as well not even be there, so you are obviously ’with’ your baby!

2. The available seat needs to be no more than two tables away from the door.

Lastly, a relavant question, are the prams locked? It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to do that… but that also insinuate that you have ’deserted’ it, completely quashing the illusion that glass is equal to no separation at all 😉

Voila! Believe me – the social anxiety I have saved you by sharing this knowledge now, should you not already know – and find yourself in this predicament… After a bit of practice, the entire assessment takes only a split second; and like me, you too can be fully proficient in the door hovering technique!

no pram signBut some of you are still wondering WHY you would ever not just take your pram in with you? A-ha… you have been blessed with an infant that while sleeping is oblivious to temperate or humidity changes; that is not stirred by the removal of hats or blankets (to prevent over heating); that is blissfully unaware of volume variations or background music; you have yet to experience the hypnotic click effect another child’s voice can have on what had appeared to be your infants ’deep sleep’; you have been blessed with such a good nights sleep that you ’dare’ to risk a wake up; you are actually not that desperate for caffeine; you’ve just never come across a ’no pram’ sign!


Seychelles Mama


  1. What an interesting read. I love learning about cultural differences. It makes lots of sense when you explained it. I think I’d be a door lurker 🙂

  2. Aaahhh the lovely world of unspoken rules! If I ever did that in Colombia, Chile or Uruguay people would probably call me irresponsible (or even the police). When I was in Singapore, the staff would almost beg me to let them cuddle my baby while I enjoyed my Iced Tea. In France, they’d be very happy if I left my kids outside, because most of the time they don’t want you taking to much space with a stroller or kids making too much noise (sad but true).

    Sweden seems to be a wonderful place to raise kids. Thanks for sharing your adventures there 🙂

  3. I have read about this! I think its awesome that you wont have anything with your to worry inside the shops. And your baby is just outside safe and warm. I wish it will be adopted here as it does makes a lot of sense =) #MyExpatFamily

  4. Love the nuances of dos and don’ts. This reminds me of when my friend’s nanny left her two sleeping toddlers in a stroller outside the grocery store for a few minutes. When she came out, the police had been called (and the mom). I’m not sure how long she was in the store, but in Canada, leaving your kid even an older child and even for a minute- is frowned upon. Here in Costa Rica, the kids often hang out in the car or outside the store while we run in for errands or a coffee…

    • So so funny with these culture differences. The looks, frowns, response that we give each other, all only based on what we consider to be the acceptable norm!

    • Now THAT is service! Just so funny though, that somewhere else and every parent would be sat there thinking… Don’t be thinking you’re going to touch my baby!!

  5. Haha I love this Steph!!! It’s amazing different ’social norms’ country to country! It’s pretty incredible the way that expats adapt to these different things too….I guess it’s why we became expats in the first place, to widen our horizons, our ideals, our beliefs!
    We don’t have coffee shops here (a true true crime I can tell you) but if they ever do, I’ll be sure to take these tips on board 🙂
    Thanks for joining in with #myexpatfamily it’s fab to have you on board!!! X

  6. Hi Steph! When I first moved to Germany and saw women leaving babies outside I almost had a heart attack! Lol! I never thought they were thoughtless mothers, as there were a bunch of them I know it was common it just wasn’t something I ever had to consider in the US, but it makes perfect sense, the baby is sleeping happily and you can see them! I’m also friends with a girl from Serbia who loves to put her baby snuggled up warmly even when it shows outside in the stroller at home. She tells me the baby sleeps better and she gets bad air out and fresh air in! It’s great to hear and read about so many different cultural approaches! Great post!

    • Thanks Adriana! It’s those first moments when we CAN’T believe what we’re seeing… Those are the thoughts and feelings that are the funniest to remember once you’ve lived in a place a few years and don’t even raise an eyebrow anymore 🙂

  7. Hello from the My Expat Family link up. My mother in law took my new baby into a UK coffee shop (14 yrs ago) and as he was asleep put the hood up on the pram. Thankfully she did as someone spilled their drink and the hood saved him. Outside is probably safer!

    • Oops!! What is it with people hovering coffee over babies heads anyway? I’ve seen trays of coffee being passed over a pram so many times!

  8. This is funny, and very informative with great tips if you had to do so. Sounds like sweden has tiny coffee shops where this would be very very useful. I am so glad I don’t have to make the choice to leave the stroller outside as our coffee shops are all HUGE and I can park them safely inside next to my chair. But no I have never seen a no stroller sign. I dont’ know what I would do but I am sure they are in a lot of places and then you would have to get creative like you did here. Great post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round of #sharewithme

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