Free Range Nursing at Culver’s

Now that we have a newborn baby, our adventure travel will likely have to be put on pause, unless we consider long trips with the stroller down the third-world streets of Chicago’s Milwaukee Avenue an adventure.

For this reason, I’ve decided to provide up-to-date reviews on various places where my wife has been required to nurse our impatient young man. We hope to… 1) Help other weary parents find a quality, emergency respite when the cries are inconsolable…  2) Poke some fun at the low-quality places where desperation has landed us.

Our first impromptu nursing spot comes from a recent holiday trip from Chicago to St. Louis:

The Location:

Culver’s – Bloomington, Illinois [map]

The Situation:

  • 30 minutes before hungry baby meltdown.
  • 10 minutes before hungry parent meltdown.
  • A planned stop to satisfy all parties, complete with an exceptional butter burger, chicken sandwich and caramel shake as well as the friendly service one can expect from a Wisconsin-based company.

The Nursing Review:

Environment – 3 out of 5 Swaddles: 


It was a busy day, being a holiday week and its “what-the-hell” vacation attitude that convinced people of good taste to spend the extra buck to pass up McDonald’s and try a more refined, more buttery burger.

Diners were spread out in the large seating area, with light traffic going to and from the bathroom, the soda fountain with surprisingly good diet root beer, and the doors. The environment was warm enough – clean and quieter than one would think, perhaps due to the many mouths focused on the well-cooked beef and soft buns as cozy as a corner booth.

Privacy – 2 out of 5 Swaddles: 


Unfortunately, taking up the big corner booth seemed like an asshat thing to do, considering that a family with five ravenous kids in the middle of a long haul from Green Bay could have come walking through the door at any second. Those were the kind of Cheeseheads we were not willing to fight – even with the sympathy we may have gotten from the mother.

We settled for a booth against the wall instead of the tables in the middle of the room. Shielded by a highway-facing window on one side and my own body on another, Elise only had to deal with potential look-sees from a few adjacent diners and the awkward, yet diligent young busser.

Entertaining Distractions (for Mother) – 2 out of 5 Swaddles: 


With the table so close to the booth seat, the primary focus was on preventing our child from splitting his head open and completely ruining our day. The divinely slight char on the beef and the ever-so tenderly-browned bun was a worthy distraction, but the omnipresent bus boy was a constant reminder of how our child might end up after an unfortunate head wound.

Entertaining Distractions (for Father) – 2 out of 5 Swaddles:

swaddle-2The unnecessary stress of watching potential reactions from passers-by and hiding bare breasts from view with a baby blanket over-shadowed the joy I had from my own succulent breast in my Detroit Rock City of a chicken sandwich. In addition, our slow-eating son outlasted my interest in Facebook, personal emails and even a few old Oatmeal cartoons. It was a long hour.

Ease of Escape – 4 out of 5 Swaddles (3 if the burger is left behind):


Unless you’ve come across a pit-stop for Jeff Foxworthy’s funeral procession, the car is probably very close. The only issues in running out of a Culver’s because of an uncooperative baby are confused stares from people you’ll never see again – and leaving behind the last half of the burger you’d been thinking about for 165 miles.

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Having traveled extensively in the past with an artist and educator schedule, I now spend my non-working hours calming a tired infant, searching for the best sazerac and getting the most out of our urban garden. As we inevitably write more about traveling with children, we'd love to read your comments about how you create the perfect comfort/adventure balancing act. Thanks for reading!

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