Baby-changing in Istanbul
As crazy as Turks are for babies, there aren’t a lot of amenities for them in Istanbul. While most restaurants will have high chairs, changing tables are few and far between. If you ask nicely, many cafes will let you use a back room, a quiet corner of the restaurant, or some other place, but I wouldn’t try to change a diaper near anyone eating, especially without asking first! I had to quickly master the art of changingVera in odd places: the top of a toilet seat lid, on a narrow bathroom counter, or even in a sink (stuff your diaper bag or a scarf inside and put a changing pad on top).
With this in mind, it’s pretty exciting when I do go to a cafe or museum that does have a baby changing room, so I created a list on Four Square and will add additional locations as I spot them. I didn’t include malls except a few that happen to be convenient for many travelers and locals, but every modern mall (e.g. not the Grand Bazaar) I’ve been to in Istanbul has baby rooms.
The list includes:
- Taksim metro station: You pay 1 TL to use the public bathrooms, but they are immaculate.
- Demiroren mall on Istiklal: Istanbullu have mixed feelings about this new mall on Istanbul’s huge pedestrian street, but it’s a handy place to stop close to Taksim, with baby-changing/feeding rooms and a Mothercare on the ground floor.
- Ara Cafe: Cute cafe named after Turkey’s most famous photographer, Ara Güler. No alcohol, but great food and very baby-friendly. Tucked on a side street by Galatasaray, smack in the middle of Istiklal.
- SALT Beyoglu: Excellent art gallery on the Tunel end of Istiklal, also has a cafe, bookstore, and free wi-fi. I’ve visited the Galata location as well but didn’t find a baby room.
- Kanyon: Not a big tourist hotspot, but if you do need to visit a mall or are staying in one of the big hotels in Levent, Kanyon is pretty sweet. Partially open-air and resembling the Guggenheim museum, there is a baby room on the lowest level as well as inside restaurants Wagamama and Le Pain Quotidien.
- Kirinti cafe: There are a few locations of this American-inspired but very Turkish restaurant, but I know the Nisantasi location has a changing table. They also have a pretty amazing magazine-style menu that could take a full meal to read, pork and great cocktails for parents, high chairs and baby utensils for small diners.
- Hagia Sophia: Istanbul’s most awesome attraction also has a nice baby room you should visit while sightseeing.
- Istanbul Modern: Excellent art museum is free for Turkish residents on Thursdays, has a lovely cafe with Bosphorus views, and a gift shop with lots of covetable items. There are multiple bathrooms, including the cafe, but only the main floor has a changing table.
- Aşşk Kahve: Don’t snicker at the name, it’s pronounced “ahshk” and is a play on the Turkish word for love. The Kuruçeşme location is a bit of a hike up the water (behind the big Macrocenter after Ortakoy if you need fancy groceries), but stellar views and comfy garden. There’s another location in Nisantasi with big bathroom counters I’ve used to change V, but the Kuruçeşme one actually has a proper table.
- Emirgan Park: It’s a bit of a hike from central Istanbul, but you can take the metro to I.T.U. and hop in a taxi for 10-15 TL (ask for Emirgan Korusu). Lovely spot especially during the week for strolling or playing, with several beautiful Ottoman kiosks for taking a çay break outfitted with high chairs and baby-changing tables.
ASIAN SIDE – BOSTANCI (thanks to my fellow expat mothers on Facebook for these additions)
- Marks & Spencer: I used to visit this department store on Bağdat Cad. for bathroom breaks even before I was pregnant. They also have a baby play room if you need a time out from strolling and shopping.
- Mothercare: Nearby M&S on Bağdat, a big baby supplies shop with a changing/care room.
- Caribou Coffee and Caffe Nero: Several coffee chains with children’s play areas and changing tables on Bağdat Cad.