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Babies in restaurants

Babies in restaurants. Is it a controversial topic?! I certainly never thought it was. Before I had a baby, I never minded babies in restaurants at all, why shouldn’t they be there?! If the baby got upset, I would feel bad for the parents but again, I wouldn’t give it a second thought – babies cry, and we were all babies once.

I really don’t like to get involved in drama, but when I saw a tweet suggesting that parents should not take babies to restaurants, I really wanted to write something on the matter. I appreciate that you may not want to spend your dinner next to a screaming child, but you know what, the parents don’t either!

Two weeks after giving birth to Dougie, it was my 28th birthday. I had already forgotten what sleep was, everything still hurt and I had a tiny human who wanting feeding constantly and was depending on me for absolutely everything. I had no intention of celebrating my birthday at all – in fact, I think I asked Sam if I could have a nap as a treat. My parents were coming down to see Dougie and timed it with the day before my birthday. They suggested going out for lunch. Initially the thought horrified me – we’d been out for some very slow, tentative walks and a couple of equally slow trips to the shop but that was about it. However, I decided wanted to go. I wasn’t going to be confined to our flat just because I had a baby!

Dougie came out for lunch with us that day. He slept peacefully in his buggy next to our table for most of it, woke for a feed, and then went back to sleep (fyi, newborns sleep a LOT). A couple of weeks later, Sam and I decided we deserved a mini date night, so we took Dougie to the lovely Indian restaurant across the road from us. Dougie slept for most of it, and then woke up and cried. I’d finished eating so I simply took him out of the buggy and rocked him, he calmed down and sat quietly in my arms, staring around the restaurant.

Going out for food is a fun and sociable thing and having a baby absolutely shouldn’t change that.

The idea that someone thinks I shouldn’t take my baby to a restaurant really bothered me. So what if he cries?! Of course I’m going to do everything I can to stop him crying, but not for the comfort of other diners, I’m going to do it because I love him and don’t want him upset! I’ve been out for dinner before when a couple in the restaurant had a blazing row and the woman stormed out in tears – that disturbed our evening far more than the family with the two kids eating together in the corner.

My NCT group, and our eight babies all went for lunch together, in a restaurant, and you know what? No-one minded. It was such a lovely way to spend a lunchtime! If you never take your babies and kids to restaurants, how will they learn how they should behave there when they are older?

Now Dougie is older, it’s even more fun because I can order food for him, and trust me, toddlers in restaurants are much, much more hard work than newborns!

Ever since Dougie was tiny, we’ve taken him to restaurants. Why shouldn’t we? A lot of pubs have a “no children after 8pm” (or whatever time) policy, which is fair enough, so chances are you won’t get many babies in restaurants or pubs later in the evening anyway.

Going out to dinner is a treat, and gives me a sense of normality, as it was something I was used to doing, so I have no intention of stopping. I’m grateful that so many restaurants are so accommodating to babies, as they should be, so it means I don’t have to give up my social life just because I’ve had a baby! So much has changed in my life in the last couple of years, and so being able to go out to eat with my family means the absolute world to me.

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  • Steph – Wanderlust Pulse

    I’ve been disturbed far more in restaurants by people who are old enough to control their behaviour yet instead get drunk, get loud and get argumentative yet it’s probably these same people who would complain about a baby. No one has any more right to be in a restaurant than anyone else, regardless of age.

    Steph x
    http://www.wanderlustpulse.com

  • You wrote this really fairly, and it was a great way to calmly explain your side to people who may share those views. I like that you didn’t write it as an argument or ‘piece of the drama’, but as a way to encourage other new parents and share your lovely experiences.

    Lyd from http://www.whatlyddid.com

  • Sarah Pears

    Such a well written and fair post. We all deserve to be in a restaurant, no matter how old we are! I’ve definitely been disturbed in a restaurant more by adults arguing or getting very drunk, rather that a baby! I think it’s amazing that mothers can take their young babies out as it’s tough to leave your house in the first few weeks! Loved this.

    Sarah xxx

  • Kate

    This is such a corker of a post. I agree with everyone – you’ve written this brilliantly and in such a calm, classy way and not from a “capitalising on the drama” angle. As an aunty to six (soon to be eight!) little ones, we have had many attempts at outings, some successful … some less so 😉 but I can tell you that each and every time we’ve gone out its been a lovely ‘return’ to normality for my sisters, and that they probably found it 10 x more stressful when any of the little ones were getting agitated!

    I completely agree that on the few times I’ve been disturbed in a restaurant it’s been by fellow adults! This morning I went for an early brunch and the couple next to us had their newborn with them – she was an absolute angel (and soooo cute too!) and honestly, you wouldn’t have known she was there at all. I know that’s not always the case and I think for me, the frustration at the initial tweet came because 9/10, a baby is going to be easily comforted – and I just feel nothing but sympathy when they aren’t; I can’t imagine how stressful it is when you’re little one is kicking off, you’re trying to comfort them and make them happy, trying to eat, you’re running on no sleep, and all that in a restaurant when you’re just trying to do what you would normally do anyway! I think ultimately, if your baby is non-stop crying for 45 mins in a restaurant, you’re not going to want to stay there anyway!

    I love how you’ve taken the negativity from last night and turned it into a calm and fair insight from a Mum’s perspective – I think about how my sisters would feel as Mums reading this and I know it would bring them huge comfort!

    Really great post.

    Kate x
    http://www.findingkate.co

  • Ellis Woolley

    This was the one bit of drama I struggled to turn away from the other night because I just couldn’t understand how someone could dislike children so much. I don’t yet have children of my own, but I completely understand everything you’ve said here about your beautiful little boy and parents are well within their rights to take their children out with them, because you’re a FAMILY. It breaks my heart that some just don’t see it that way. I’m so sorry you had to see those comments, no parent should. You wrote this so fairly and calmly, I hope when I’m a Mother I will be able to cover topics like this as you have done x x
    Ellis // http://www.elliswoolley.co.uk

  • I don’t have any children yet, but I don’t see anything wrong about the presence of a child or a baby in a restaurant. It’s actually a good thing–start the kids early! I agree with you, how can the children learn if their parents never bring them along?

    Yes we’ve all been babies before, and crying can be a natural response to anything! To be honest, whenever I hear a baby cry–I feel like crying too–like, what could have caused them to cry like that? My heart goes out to parents who want to spend time together and bring their babies along–it’s certainly not easy work, and you wanting to quiet him because you love him shows how fantastic a mum you are.

    Visited your blog through Abbey’s, and I shall be coming back! 🙂

    PS: Dougie looks adorable. 🙂

    xxx
    Layla
    legallyunblondeandbeyond.inspirelight.net

  • Food & Baker

    I seriously bow down to you on how amazingly written this is! we personally can’t believe this is something someone had to defend but each of their own. Love how you’ve dealt with this negativity in such a great way – loved reading this from a parents point of view!

    Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk / http://www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk

  • I love this post Hels! Your points are entirely valid and while I can acknowledge that screaming kids can sometimes be a little annoying, I 100% don’t think you should stop bringing your child to a restaurant. I totally agree that it’s a great way for them to learn how to be in social situations and I certainly have no issues with cute babies being in a restaurant! xx

  • Stacey Spruels

    I remember seeing the tweet and was shocked at the comments after as well as the main offending tweet. I have 2 kids and my youngest is awful if go out to eat, not screaming as such, but hard work and impatient. I worry about the looks around if he makes a noise and we do our best to keep him distracted. It is hard for parents who don’t go out much or can’t afford babysitters or want to go as a family. Everyone was a child once and yes sometimes you don’t want to hear a child screaming but it is probably worse for the parents trying to calm that child down with the dirty looks they are experiencing

    Stacey xxx unicornfairy.net