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.
Once, when my children were young, my husband had made reservations for just the two of us at a very nice restaurant. We had hired a babysitter and I had looked so forward to dressing up and having a rare evening all to ourselves. Until the hostess lead 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.
I had no ill will toward the children. I just wanted an adult night out with my husband. 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 well behaved and my husband and I enjoyed some much needed time alone. And no, I don’t think that children should be banned from restaurants. I think children should be taught to be on their best behavior when dining out.
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.
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. He got up out of his seat and walked up and down the aisle, 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 business man 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 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 note).
When my children were babies, I 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 water works!
Most of the time, they (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.
By the time they 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 seat 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.
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 said baby is on a plane. That’s when you call in the big gun – my husband. 🙂
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 were always a life saver while the food was being 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 pick the child up and exit the store. 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. I think 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) work wonders with toddlers and young children.
- Try to remain calm. A baby/toddler can sense when their parent is upset and it causes them to become more agitated.
What is your opinion of babies crying in public?