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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
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Column Bye, Bye Babycinno – why I'm ditching my child's favourite treat

Have you heard of babyccinos, the frothy, non-caffeine milk drink marketed at children? I wish I never had, writes Claire Micks.

AS THE MOTHER of two toddlers, it would be fair to say that I have time for few enough pleasures in life other than my kids themselves.

Chocolate would be one. Telly another (I await the next season of Love/Hate with a truly pathetic level of excitement). The very (very) odd splurge in the shops. And, on a more regular basis, COFFEE. Or more accurately, a fully caffeinated, sod the low fat I haven’t even managed breakfast, latte in all its creamy, please God wake me up because something feckin’ has to, glory. It constitutes my own little self pat on the back for having successfully Made It Out Of The House of a morning, in spite of the best efforts of my kids.

The problem, (which I feel all coffee-loving mothers of under-twos should be forewarned about), is that my daughter is fast developing a morning habit all of her own which is threatening my own loving relationship with The Bean. And this presents no small difficulty. My morning latte was around long before Lucy graced this planet.

What a great bonding opportunity!

Once she was old enough to cotton on to the existence of those steaming cups of yumminess, Mummy had what she naively thought at the time was a light bulb moment. Wouldn’t it be nice if she and baby could bond over a shared love of their morning, milky beverage? For a while I was only delighted with myself and this newfound daily ritual. I wistfully saw this rite of passage as laying the foundation for a lifetime of shared girly moments together. How wonderful!

Until the practical difficulties inevitably reared their ugly head. As they so often do with any child-related best laid plan (particularly those with any kind of rose tinted, romantic notions attached to them).

For starters, not every barista knows what a ‘babyccino’ is. And you can feel like a bit of a fool trying to explain the concept to a twenty-something whose primary concern is how she’s going to get to the end of the queue of suits behind you and get rid of the enormous buggy blocking their way. Proudly pointing at your ‘adorable’ toddler (who’ll invariably be picking her nose at the time) and patiently explaining that she wishes to share in Elevenses with mummy, rarely, if ever, produces the desired result. Ranges from a bemused, pitying look, to a begrudgingly produced, half mug of boiling hot milk to, very occasionally, the desired result (being an espresso cup of lukewarm milk with minimum spilling/scalding potential).

What’s worse is those coffee shops which have cottoned on to the concept, who understand all too well the economics of pester power and are more than happy to cash in upon it. Such establishments proudly announce that they would be only too delighted to serve your little one a ‘babyccino’. And charge you €2.10 for the privilege. Governments have fallen over VAT on children’s shoes, and taxing child benefit has long been considered political suicide. But charging €2 for an eggcup full of warm milk in 2014 is ok apparently. A nice little earner, courtesy of those of us too knackered and distracted to object.

Enough was enough

In case you haven’t been turned off already, a final word of warning about the perils of take-away babyccinos. One word. Don’t. Trying to wheel a double buggy and drink your own coffee is just about manageable so long as you have a forgiving footpath, no kerbs to navigate and you take a good, ignorant builder-like slurp before you leave the counter. But try adding a toddler with a hot beverage to the equation and you’re toast. Cue having to remove said babyccino, the mother of all tantrums, and any good being drained from your own hard-earned beverage as every time you go to take a sneaky slurp the disgruntled wails from the buggy reach a new crescendo.

When it got to the stage where I had to produce a note to pay for my morning coffees, I decided enough was enough. Poor Lucy has gone cold turkey on the babyccinos. No more hassled communications with even more hassled, aproned staff. No more muttering about rip off Ireland whilst rummaging for the €2 coin you thought you’d seen wandering around the nappy bag. No more bonding over hot beverages. She now gets raisins. Bountiful amounts depending on the level of her withdrawal symptoms on the day in question.

Her teeth may rot, but I will sleep soundly in the knowledge that my weekly coffee bill won’t edge its way into double figures. I’ll save that level of expense for when we can share our first cocktail together…

Claire Micks is the mother of a (reasonably behaved) two year old girl and an (entirely spoilt) fourteen month old boy. She survives by day and writes by night. Croaks rather than tweets, but despite that somehow manages to get her ramblings published on occasion.

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