Babies Crying in Public – Helpful Tips

by Alli

Babies crying in public have been the talk of the town and media lately! People are taking sides and debating this hot topic as if it’s a matter of national security! 

Some restaurant owners have even talked about banning babies and toddlers from their establishments!  And I can relate to both sides of this ongoing argument, except for the banning part. Children should not be canceled! 


Babies Crying In Public In Nice Restaurants

Once, when my children were young, my husband had made reservations for just the two of us at a very nice restaurant. We hired a babysitter and looked forward to dressing up and having a rare evening all to ourselves.  

Then the hostess leads us to an intimate table in the corner . . . right next to a large family with several small children. And I have to honestly say that I almost asked for another table, except that they were booked solid.

Babies Are Precious – I Love All Children

I had no ill will toward the children. I just want an adult night out with my husband occasionally. But, I won’t lie, the thought that “we hired a sitter, why didn’t you” did cross my mind.  

As it turned out, the children were very well behaved and my husband and I enjoyed some much-needed time alone.

And no, I don’t think children should be banned from restaurants. I think children should be taught to be on their best behavior when dining out. But stuff happens sometimes, right?

What About Babies That Won’t Stop Crying?

But, what about babies? Crying is their way of communicating that something is wrong. Maybe the baby isn’t feeling well, is hungry, or needs his diaper changed.

That Time My Husband Was Declared A Hero

I remember when my husband and I were on a flight to California and a very young, non-English speaking mom and her baby were sitting in the row across from us.

As soon as the plane took off, the baby (approx. 6-8 months old) began to scream. I’m pretty sure it was in reaction to the pressure in his ears. He could not be consoled.

The mom was getting nervous as people began to turn around and stare, while some folks went beyond staring and were glaring at that poor mom.

Others just started drinking. A flight attendant tried to help out, but the wailing baby was having none of that.

Finally, my husband asked the almost-in-tears mom if he could hold her baby. If I recall correctly, she almost threw that child at him as a look of relief flooded her face.

The Baby Whisperer To The Rescue of Babies Crying In Public

My sweet husband got up out of his seat and walked up and down the aisle, all the while gently patting that child’s back and talking very softly until the baby calmed down.

That little guy sat with us for the remainder of the flight playing with a half-full Tic Tac dispenser that I dug out of the bottom of my purse.

As we deboarded the plane, to our amazement, my husband received a standing ovation and a three-sheets-to-the-wind businessman said, “Let me shake your hand.  You’re my hero.”  But we were just trying to help that frazzled mom.

I mean, should we ban babies from flying, too? No!

Yes, a crying baby is irritating, but I can think of instances when adults were just as (or more) irritating.

And what about the baby at the ski resort that supposedly cried all night and someone in a neighboring room shoved a nasty note under the parent’s hotel door? What would you have done?  

For one, I would never shove an unkind note under anyone’s door. As the parent, I would have probably bundled the baby up, high-tailed it for the car, and drove around until the baby was asleep.  I can clearly see both sides (except for the mean shoved-under-the-door note).

When my children were babies, we did take them out to dinner with us all the time (not to five-star reservations-only restaurants). I tried to always make sure that they were dry, comfortable, and well-rested. But, come on, they’re babies! We can’t predict when they may turn on the waterworks!

Most of the time, my babies (thankfully) just slept through the entire dinner. At other times, at the first hint of a crying jag coming on, my husband or I would take the baby to the car or walk around outside. No problem. I’ve always understood that other diners want to enjoy their meal without the blood-curdling screams of an infant.

Babies Crying In Public - father comforting a baby

Toddlers Having Temper Tantrums

By the time our kids were toddlers and ready for the high chair, I began to teach them how to behave in restaurants. My toddlers were never allowed to leave their seats and run around. That is such a pet peeve of mine.  

And if they made a mess with their food, I would take a napkin and clean the floor around their chair. After the toddler stage, if a child has been trained properly, there shouldn’t be too many outbursts in restaurants or while shopping.

Speaking of shopping, I have to admit that when infants/toddlers are screaming their little heads off and the mom just continues to shop like nothing is happening and ignores the cries while the other shoppers, like me, are about to pull their hair out, it’s time to stop shopping, leave the store and tend to the child. 

And in defense of all the infants, toddlers, and young children out there, their idea of a fun day is usually not being pushed around in a stroller or pulled along by the hand all day long at the nearest mall.

 Bottom Line – Babies Cry

Babies cry. It’s what they do. I don’t think the answer is banishing children from public places.  

Tolerance from others and a quick response from the parent is usually all that is needed unless the said baby is on a plane. That’s when you call in the big gun – my husband.  🙂

Helpful Tips To Keep Babies Happy While Dining In Public

1.  When dining out with young children or infants, get to the restaurant before the dinner crowd. 

It’s less crowded, the service is faster and you are in and out before the rush.

2.  Always have books or small, soft, noiseless toys for your toddler to play with while waiting on your meal to be served.  

Saltine crackers are always a lifesaver while dining with toddlers and waiting for the food to be prepared.

3.  When shopping with young children/babies, keep their eating and sleeping schedule in mind.  

A cranky toddler is probably hungry or sleepy.

4.  Toddlers should be taught that temper tantrums don’t work.  

Don’t give in and buy that toy just to shush that child. When a child throws himself on the floor and begins to wail, calmly grab your child and head for the nearest exit. He will soon learn that he can’t have everything he wants.

5.  On a plane, there is no escape!

  • Be prepared! Pack all the essentials.
  • Arrive at the airport early so that you aren’t rushed through security.
  • Reserve an aisle seat. If you have to get up and down, you won’t be crawling over other passengers.
  • Giving your baby a bottle or pacifier while taking off and landing will help relieve pressure in the ears. Have a sippy cup ready for that toddler. I remember a flight when it was just me and (my then) 18-month-old son. I was a tad nervous but he never cried at all. The plain M&M’s I doled out every once in a while really helped. Thank you, Jesus!  Snacks, books, and toys (non-noise-making) really help keep toddlers and young children occupied.
  • Try to remain calm. A baby/toddler can sense when their parent is upset and it causes them to become more agitated.
  • Please be mindful of the people in front of you and don’t allow your child to kick the seat or bang on the seatback with their hands. 

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Adrianne March 24, 2014 - 7:02 am

Our kids are great when they are out. I can’t even take credit for it – both are just naturally social (my daughter) and easygoing (my son). I know that’s not true for all kids out there. But I will also say that we have left a restaurant when my husband taking my daughter outside for a time-out didn’t work. Sometimes a family can’t do anything about it but we really do try to be conscious of other diners. (Flights – good grief, I don’t know what I would do since you can’t go out for air, haha. We don’t need to fly, and I doubt we will before the kids are old enough to be responsible for their behavior). But we have comfortably taken my daughter to nice restaurants, the kind where the hostess panicked a little and said, “uh, we don’t have high chairs”. We don’t need one. Or a kids’ menu. She’s young, but she does know how to behave. You will see.

I think the key is being MINDFUL of everyone involved. Not to take your kids out when they aren’t having a good day or if they’re too tired or too hungry, or if they are acting out, how many surrounding people is it affecting? Kids can’t help it sometimes, you’ve go to read their cues, and you have to care about that table next to you.

Alli March 24, 2014 - 7:24 am

Well said, Adrianne! When my daughter and son-in-law take their kids out to dinner, it never fails that someone walks up to the table and complements them on how well behaved their children are. It’s all about teaching kids basic manners, etc. I can tell by your blog that you are an awesome mom!

Mel March 24, 2014 - 7:47 am

Crying babies don’t bother me I much prefer them over misbehaving children that are old enough to know better and the parents not discipline them.

Alli March 24, 2014 - 8:18 am

You are so right, Mel! Babies can’t help crying!

Rebekah March 24, 2014 - 8:03 am

I agree with you 100%! I think parents just need to use sense. When we go out to eat, with all four boys, sometimes we get looks. By the end of the meal, the people that were staring are the ones that are complimenting them. There’s no perfect kid and the parent needs to know how to deal with the situation. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in a dressing room or bathroom stall nursing a crying baby. You do what you’ve got to do. lol

Alli March 24, 2014 - 8:18 am

You are so right, Rebekah! Kids are not perfect and babies will cry when you are least expecting it.

Kristen from The Road to Domestication March 24, 2014 - 8:55 am

This is a great post, Alli! Now, let me preface my response by saying that we don’t have children of our own at this point. However, I think working my way through college as a nanny for triplet boys and their baby brother qualifies me to say a little something LOL

J and I refuse to criticize any crazy babies or kids that we see in public. (We are somewhat scared that if we do so, we’ll end up with kids that are worse than that LOL) However, what we see often provides good conversation for us as to, “What would you do if that was our child…” It’s really helped us get on the same page about a few things. Of course, we were both raised that, if you misbehave, you get spanked. Too bad, so sad. You loved mom and dad, but you were also scared of them LOL

And most of the time it’s pretty clear whether it’s a situation where the baby/child just really needs some attention from mom or dad, or if it’s a misbehaving issue. I know some kids are pretty tough, but I also know I could take four boys (three of them 5 years old and one of them just a little baby) out anywhere – to the mall, to dinner, even to a committee meeting, with no issues. The boys, because they would be informed before hand of what our outing would entail, how they were to behave, and a reminder about consequences and rewards. The baby, because I would make sure he was fed, dry and comfortable. It can be done!

But I agree with you, when you see the parents who completely ignore whatever their children may be doing, I don’t like that. I find it sad, because I think, if you’re ignoring them now, what if they do something really neat, and you ignore that, too? You’ll miss it!

Anyways…just my two cents…or two pages LOL

Alli March 24, 2014 - 10:10 am

I love your two cents worth, Kristen! As a former nanny to triplet boys and their baby brother, you are more than qualified to state your opinion! Maybe you should have written this! 🙂 I could always take my kids (and now my four grand boys) out in public with no worries because they were taught how to behave! I think that’s the bottom line – parents caring enough to teach and train their children!

Jeanie @ create&babble March 24, 2014 - 10:23 am

I totally agree with how you summed this up! Tolerance and being a prepared parent will go a long way!

Crystal March 24, 2014 - 10:43 am

I totally agree with you!! I did the same exact things with my girls when they were little that you did. We taught them how to behave in restaurants and stores. Great post!!

Alli March 24, 2014 - 11:32 am

Thanks, Crystal! It’s all in the love and discipline. 🙂

Letitia March 24, 2014 - 11:23 am

There is not much that irks me more than…. Wait for it…. People who are downright rude and mean to people
about their children. If the kids are going nuts and the parents are letting them do whatever they want… By all means, say something (politely!!!!!!) But to glare at someone with knives in your eyes because their baby is crying, or even if their kid is upset because temptation set in and they REALLY wanted that candy at the store and mom says no, is COMPLETELY out of line. That’s not the parents fault at all (they didn’t personally place chocolate bars at the check out at the grocery store just to about you)
When a child throws a temper tantrum, don’t throw one of your own!

Alli March 24, 2014 - 11:31 am

Totally agree!

Letitia March 24, 2014 - 11:25 am

Just to annoy you**** I meant

Renee @ Renew Your Space March 24, 2014 - 1:31 pm

I think it’s more about the parents than the baby. I don’t mind a crying baby at all, but I have seen some parents who just don’t care. I’ve seen misbehaving children in public who run amuck, whose parents ignore the fact that they’re creating chaos, and I’ve seen parents who keep an eye out and teach their children to be respectful. Big difference. A crying baby can’t be stopped, but a responsive parent can make a huge difference.

Amanda Smith March 24, 2014 - 1:37 pm

I am kind of like you Alli. I would not take small children to a 5 star, reservation only restaurant. But honestly, crying children don’t bother much. My family is fill of kids and we love them. Our lives revolve around them.

If I see one crying inconsolably in a store, I am probably going to ask the mom if she need any help ( I’ve assisted with retrieving many a bottle or blankie out of a diaper bag for a mom as she juggles a squirming, screaming baby) or if they were over 6 months old, I may try and talk to the child, because I think a stranger speaking to them sometimes distracts them.

Rambunctious toddles in a family restaurant running around don’t bother me either. I do think their parents need to teach them to sit still, but if they haven’t, I’ll take a second play peek a boo with them behind the chair and then tell them the food is really good, so they better go sit down and eat.

There are instances that I think a parent should take a crying baby or rowdy toddler to a different room until they calm down, period. Church, the movies and meetings. If the child is disrupting, take them to the nursery, the bathroom, another empty room or the car until they calm down.

Alli March 24, 2014 - 2:09 pm

Well said, Amanda!

Anna @ Northern Homestead March 24, 2014 - 1:43 pm

Banishing babies and children from public places is not the answer, however I do not thing that they belong into public places as much as they have to be there nowadays. Just because mom and dad think they have to be everywhere kids have to be there too. Kids grow up so so fast and there will be plenty of time for shopping and dining out. Why not use the time more suitable for children? We have spend many dates with our children on some nice special playground. They would play and my husband and I would enjoy our time together. No screaming, everyone happy.

Shirley Wood March 24, 2014 - 1:57 pm

This is definitely a hot topic! We all probably have war stories to tell. I remember when my entire family had gathered at a favorite restaurant for my birthday many years ago, a baby at the next table cried the entire time we were in the restaurant. That is the only thing I remember about that birthday dinner 🙂
My daughter has a friend going through a similar situation as the one you described at the hotel, except it is a neighbor in an apartment complex. This neighbor started complaining and actually calling the police from the moment this couple brought their baby home from the hospital, every single time the baby cries! She even knocked on their door once and demanded to hold the crying baby as if the parents didn’t have the ability to keep the baby from crying. Babies cry, that’s what they do.
My oldest daughter had colic for 9 months. All she did was cry. My Mom would take her home sometimes just so I could get some rest! We made a 9 hour drive for vacation while she was a baby and had to stop the car and get out for a few minutes, leaving her in. I know that sounds bad but we were just outside of the car. It turned out that she had an ear infection and meds made life better thanks to a pharmacist in Memphis, Tn. 🙂
Babies cry, that is just how it is, folks need to get over their selves! We were all babies once.

Alli March 24, 2014 - 2:08 pm

Exactly!!! I wholeheartedly agree with you. I mean, if we never took out kids to restaurants, they would never learn how to behave in public. Babies cry. That’s what they do. I always feel sorry for the parents.

Susie (The Esthetic Goddess) March 24, 2014 - 2:41 pm

Seriously that was incredibly sweet of your husband to help out the frazzled mom! I think parents need to use their heads. You know exactly how your child behaves out in public and if a fancy restaurants is not a place they will sit still then you drive right on by and pull into Chuckie Cheese.

Alli March 24, 2014 - 3:10 pm

My husband is a sweetheart! 🙂 in total agreement with your comment about knowing how your child behaves!

Amber March 24, 2014 - 7:17 pm

I don’t mind a crying baby if I see the parents are trying to calm it down. I hate the ones who ignore their kid. Many do in restaurants and movies. Drives me insane.

Susan Maccarelli March 24, 2014 - 9:15 pm

Hi! I am visiting from the SITS FB link up. I enjoyed this post about crying babies in public. I am pretty much in the same boat as you as far as what is tolerable and not tolerable. I LOVED the story about how your husband held the baby on the plane. He must be a pretty special guy since I know very few men who would do that…maybe some women, but few men.

Leslie March 24, 2014 - 10:35 pm

We’re definitely no strangers to our own (or other) children crying/screaming in public. Our youngest just does not like to sit still, so going to church is always nerve wracking. That said, they never learn until you go through a few rough moments. Infants are usually pretty simple to keep quiet with either a bottle or nursing (and if you’re lucky enough to have a child that will take one, a pacifier). It’s the 1 to 2 year old age that’s been hardest for us…old enough to voice a very loud opinion (but not in a way that anybody else understands) and developing an attitude to go with it! (That’s where favorite books, magnadoodles, color wonder markers and our phones have been super helpful!)

Tenns @ New Mama Diaries March 25, 2014 - 1:44 pm

I must be pretty out of the loop, because I had not heard of this! Then again, I don’t get out of the house that much having a 5 month old. Fortunately, when I do take him places, he rarely cries. I don’t think he’s ever completely spazzed out to the point that he couldn’t be consoled. As a young mom, I understand both sides of the argument too. I don’t like to hear my own chid cry, much less someone else’s, but babies have no other way to communicate. Unfortunately, some families are able to hire a sitter or leave baby with someone while they go out. Now, of course it can be argued that the family just shouldn’t go out in that case. However, having children is no reason to stop doing things. Also, when it comes to babies or children in general, they can turn a complete 180 on you. Maybe baby was fine when they left the house, but spazzed out all of a sudden once the parent(s) got to wherever it was that they went. Its unfortunate, because you just can’t win either way. When my son has fussed out in public, I just try to be proactive. If I need to get up and leave I do, if I can console him I do immediately. I guess it all comes down to how the parent handles it. However, I don’t think babies should be banned from anywhere, just because they are, well, a baby.

Alli March 25, 2014 - 9:45 pm

Love your point of view!

Karen Marie Kedzuch March 25, 2014 - 11:54 pm

This is a reality post. I think babies and children are a beautiful part of this world. My husband and I have flown many times with our kids and other passengers children, We have even flown with children who are flying alone to another family members house across country. Strangers! Once a mom sat her baby approx. 12 months old ad proceeded to sit in the seat across the isle from her young son. Now I understand my youngster was next to me and wanted to watch out the window. The couple finishing the row were elderly on the other side.
The mother went to the washroom with out even asking me to watch the baby. He did not sit on her lap except for when there was a snack and she put that on the mans tray next to her. They had to sharing her tray. It was a wild ride, an adorable baby, and a waked out Mom. All she had to do is politely ask for help instead of expecting us to care for her child.
I held the baby by his overall jumping up and down through most of the flight,
I am glad she had a nice flight but I was also happy to get off the plane. He was a darling baby but he deserved his Mom. I kept thinking, I hope she is just really having a bad day.
Karen Marie Kedzuch
Dragonfly & Lily Pads

Alli March 26, 2014 - 6:28 am

Wow, just wow! Hopefully, she was just having a really, really bad day.

Michelle March 26, 2014 - 8:59 am

Hi Alli!

Reading about what your husband did for that baby (and mom) about brought tears to my eyes! What a kind gesture. My children didn’t cry too terribly long in public situations, yet maybe I’ve repressed some of those memories..haha. One thing is for certain. If a person can not calm down the baby or toddler in a reasonable amount of time, then it’s time to be considerate and remove them from the situation. It’s also my pet peeve when parents totally ignore the crying. I guess I’m just a highly anxious person and I certainly don’t want my crying child nor myself to be the center of attention, let alone the recipient of angry stares!

Children cry. Period! However, if it goes on too long, then the parents should simply be considerate of those around them. Again, I applaud you and your husband for taking care of that baby on the airplane. The mom obviously needed some help and she’ll always remember your kind gesture.

Samantha March 28, 2014 - 3:12 pm

Babies do cry, but society needs to step back and stop judging.


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