Baby Friendly London – Foyles Bookstore

Baby Friendly London. Places and spaces for baby/toddler to feed, change, stretch, crawl & walk. Our reviews & insightsPlaces to stop off in central London that are baby/toddler friendly!

  • Out and about? Need a place to feed and change?

  • Need a place for baby or toddler to get out of the pram and stretch their legs, run around, have a play?




Foyles – Bookstore (website)

107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DT

  • Nearest stations: Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square tube
  • Nearby: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Soho


What’s so good about it?

If you need somewhere to stop off, get a coffee, let baby or your toddler toddle about, then this shop has many options. You can look at the books and toys in the children’s section and entertain them for a while, make use of the high chairs in the cafe while you have a refreshing cuppa, and then let them stretch their legs upstairs. Here’s some pictures and further details:


  • Good selection of children’s books and book related toys. Children’s area has some bean bags, small tables and chairs to read at

Baby Friendly London. Children's books & toys. Space for baby/toddler to stretch, crawl & walk. Foyles


Baby Friendly London. Foyles Bookshop, Children's Books. London & Baby from

Lots of Children’s Books

  • Cafe with highchairs, reasonable selection of food and drinks – Baby and toddler changing facilities on same floor
Baby Friendly London. Foyles Cafe. London & Baby from

Foyles Cafe – lots of tasty food and drinks

  • A good open space up on floor 6.
  • We went up here to let our 13 month old get out of the buggy after a long nap to crawl and toddle around. They use this space for events but events are not a regular occurrence so the space was empty. There is plenty of space up there.
  • As you can see below, especially in the middle picture below, there is a large glass window into the space which overlooks the cafe. Another picture of the fuller space on floor 6 is below
Baby Friendly London. Space for baby/toddler to stretch, crawl & walk. Foyles
The space up on floor 6

upstairs space

  • **update** April 2015 – they now have additional seating for the cafe on this floor. I don’t know if it is temporary or not but there was still space up there to walk/crawl around and look out of the window onto the cafe or out onto the road outside. It was also nice and quiet up there with plenty of table space if you have a few people that need to sit around a table.


Baby Friendly London. Foyles Cafe. London & Baby from

Additional table space

  • And how do you get around the shop with a buggy? Why by one of their many, fast, lifts of course

Baby Friendly London. Space for baby/toddler to stretch, crawl & walk. Foyles


Safety first: this is obviously a shop and not a children’s play area/provider. Check with staff if you have any safety concerns and always supervise activities closely.

Research on reading: vocabulary benefits. Oh and our baby health review

reading with baby, research shows link between reading for pleasure and vocabulary.

Free stuff from our child health review; toothbrush and books

We went for a health review today as the Little Lovely is NEARLY A YEAR OLD (almost unbelievable).
Anyway, as part of that we got some free stuff from the government. Booty! Yes, we got a free toothbrush, toothpaste and a bookstart kit that included 2 baby board books, some nursery rhymes and a booklet with a £1 book voucher in it. So, looks like government wants to develop a generation of book readers with good teeth. Sounds alright to me I suppose!

So when I got home, I looked up the bookstart website and had a look around their site. Came across some interesting research on their research blog about the benefits on vocabulary of reading for pleasure. They write:




Reading for pleasure in childhood has big vocabulary benefits later in life


This research from the Institute of Education looks at how vocabulary scores change between ages 16 to 42.


The findings show that the frequency of reading for pleasure is positively linked with vocabulary scores, and what people read matters just as much as how often they read.

“Those who regularly read for pleasure at age 10 scored 67% in the vocabulary test at age 42, whereas those who didn’t read regularly aged 10 scored 52%.

– Regular readers tended to have higher vocabulary scores at age 10 and 16


– Regular childhood readers (measured at age 10 and age 16) were still 9 percentage points ahead at age 42.



– The researchers speculate that regular childhood readers are likely to have picked up ‘good reading habits’ which continued into adulthood.


– The type of reading material also made a difference: the greatest gains in vocabulary scores were seen in those who read ‘highbrow’ fiction.

Based on information from bookstart research blog, The Institute of Education news (read their article here) and Sullivan and Brown, 2014. Vocabulary from adolescence to middle-age, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Working Paper 2014/7

What happens in the brain when we read? – psychological research

“Brain regions that encode words, grammar, [and] story identified”


what happens in the brain when you read? psychological research paper

What happens when I read this book?

Psychological research says:
A study involved functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of eight people as they read a chapter of a Harry Potter book. On analyzing the scans, by every four-word segment, they produced an “integrated computational model of reading”, identifying, (they claim) which parts of the brain were responsible for processes such as determining the meaning of words, understanding relationships between characters, and parsing sentences.

Interestingly – 

“The test subjects read Chapter 9 of Sorcerer’s Stone, which is about Harry’s first flying lesson,” …


It turns out that movement of the characters — such as when they are flying their brooms — is associated with activation in the same brain region that we use to perceive other people’s motion.


Similarly, the characters in the story are associated with activation in the same brain region we use to process other people’s intentions.”

Method: The study used a technique where people saw four words of a passage every half two seconds. “For each word, they identified 195 detailed features — everything from the number of letters in the word to its part of speech. They then used a machine learning algorithm to analyze the activation of each cubic centimeter of the brain for each four-word segment.”

Bit by bit, the algorithm was able to associate certain features with certain regions of the brain


Exactly how the brain creates these neural encodings is still a mystery, they said, but it is the beginning of understanding what the brain is doing when a person reads.



This article was based on information from:

Carnegie Mellon News

and Science Daily

Journal article reference:

Leila Wehbe, Brian Murphy, Partha Talukdar, Alona Fyshe, Aaditya Ramdas, Tom Mitchell. Simultaneously Uncovering the Patterns of Brain Regions Involved in Different Story Reading Subprocesses. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e112575 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112575


Reading with baby – what, why, and how to


How to read with baby? just read to them right? Yes mostly. And enjoy it.

  • But here’s some more information and tips on how to read with baby from the first few months onwards.

→ → → For the full story on reading, see the more detailed page here


Age 0-3 months (and 3-6 months)

  • Baby will love hearing the sound of your voice. They may recognise voices from the womb so it’s not too early to start reading to them

  • Baby’s eyes are developing still, obviously, but they can see stark, high contrasting colours and images, such as the ones below. I bought some high contrasting flash cards for the Little Lovely to look at, see more about that here, but you can easily make or download these. I knocked up a few below, available as a PDF.

  • Simple squares might be ones to start with. Print off and cut out. Stick onto card, make into a mobile, or just show on paper. Alternatively, make your own flash card book.

  • I bought a small baby board book from a charity shop (about 50p I think), and cut out and attached one image to each one of the pages. The high contrast images were covering the original book, but it was cheap and not that interesting so I didn’t mind. It was much simplier than trying to make my own board book from scratch!

simple square high contrast flash cards - visual stimulation -

High contrast flash cards for baby – simple square designs – available to print

⇒ Click link to download: High contrast images for baby –  visual stimulation – simple square images





3-6 months

  • High contrast images might still be interesting for baby to look at

  • Reading early on with baby gets both you and them into good reading habits and pattern of behaviour – for example, a recent study found that reading with 4 month old children was related to shared book reading when the child was 8 months old – and reading at 8 months old was found to be related to language skills at 12  and 16 months, so earlier book reading promoted later book reading and skills

  • Read with expression – don’t forget about facial expression and mirroring baby’s expression also – babies are fascinated by faces. 

  • Describe and name the pictures, describe what is happening – children’s books at this age might not have much text, but make the most out of the pictures. what’s going on? what are the colours? is there something relevant to your life and baby such as the little boy in the story likes a red car, and you have a toy red car? What sound does the car make? And so on.



6-12 months

  • Continue to read with expression, different voices, faces

  • Now that baby has more attention they can sit through a short story book

  • Now that baby has more control of their hands and increased motor skills – try some interactive and lift the flap books. At 9 months the Little Lovely is very curious (and was in the months before this) and likes interactive books where he can flip things back and forth, feel different textures and some books that also play sounds. He can’t always press all of the buttons hard enough to make the sound yet though.

    • Interactive books will help baby learn about cause and effect, and increase their sense of their own control and direction over their actions

  • As before, describe and name the pictures, describe what is happening – There might be more text in the story now than in 3-6 month old books. But still, make the most out of the pictures, link the text to the pictures, point and describe. What’s going on? what are the colours? is there something relevant to your life and baby?

  • What sound do things in the book make? Baby will be able to imitate some sounds now – they might love blowing raspberries, making certain sounds like dadada, bababa, mamama (at 9 months, LL likes to shout DADADA very loudly, can’t remember exactly when he started on the dada, maybe 7 or 8 months, followed by baba, then mama) – so can you link this to characters or things in the book so baby can learn more about the meanings of those words/sounds?

    • We attach meaning to words as guided by parents and those who teach us – e.g. “cat” just means a random collection of sounds unless we learn to associate it with what a cat is.

    • So, can you start to associate the sounds and words with what they actually mean and increase your baby’s understanding of these words?



  1. Lariviere & Rennick (2011). Parent picture-book reading to infants in the neonatal intensive care unit as an intervention supporting parent-infant interaction and later book reading. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 32 (2),  pp 146-152.
  2. Karras, J. & Braungart-Rieker, J. (2005). Effects of shared parent-infant book reading on early language acquisition. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 133-148.
  3. Brémond-Gignac D., Copin H., Lapillonne A., Milazzo S. (2011). Visual development in infants: physiological and pathological mechanismsCurr. Opin. Ophthalmol. 22, S1–S8.
  4. Decasper AJ, Fifer WP. Of human bonding: newborns prefer their mothers’ voice. Science. 1980;208:1174 –1176.
Other references influencing this page:
  • High P, Lagasse L, Becker S, Algren L, Gardner A. Literacy promotion in primary care pediatrics: can we make a difference? Pediatrics. 2000;105:927–934.



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