31

Full disclosure: I'm not a parent.

I was at a bar last weekend, and I saw something that was pretty startling to me. There was a woman with a baby in a baby bjorn, standing in the bar drinking and talking to her friends. I don't mean a small toddler, I mean a infant. He looked like he was at most three or four months old.

Since I'm not a parent, I'd like to know if this is frowned on by the parenting community. It's certainly not anything I would do, but her friends, the bartender and everyone else seemed just fine with it.

I happen to know that in our area, minors are allowed in bars only if it is a non-smoking establishment, which this bar is.

The place was not particularly loud; a room full of people talking with light music. Also, this was not a dive bar by any means, it's a pretty nice brewpub with probably not so much as a mild argument happening inside.

What I'm trying to ask is: Is this something people do? and What are the potential effects of being in a bar-style environment on a baby's health?

  • 3
    This place serves no food, strictly beer. Once in a while they will have an assortment of food trucks in the parking lot. This was one of those events. The food trucks are independent of the bar if it matters. – krugmeister65 Apr 15 '15 at 18:18
  • 8
    Can you clarify what you're looking for with respect to potential health impacts -- was the woman breastfeeding while drinking or something? It's going to be sort of speculative otherwise. – Acire Apr 15 '15 at 18:27
  • 14
    yes, it is something people do. As long as infants are non-mobile they are really easy to take along. Past that stage it is more tricky. – Ida Apr 15 '15 at 20:44
  • 2
    What time of day was this? – Kevin Apr 16 '15 at 2:19
  • 17
    “The Puritanical nonsense of excluding children and therefore to some extent women from pubs has turned these places into mere boozing shops instead of the family gathering places that they ought to be.” -- George Orwell – user14736 Apr 17 '15 at 6:11

14 Answers 14

52

There's a level of disagreement about whether children should be allowed in "adult settings," and you can get all sorts of opinions on what's appropriate (both for the sake of the child, and for the sake of other patrons).

Is this something people do? Yes. It's pretty unusual, but clearly not unknown or impossible. I did take an infant to a microbrewery once, but it was also a restaurant.

I'd personally feel that that taking Baby to a brewpup is not a great idea, but more because I have a hard time picturing a relaxing outing with my friends while I'm taking care of Baby. When I went out with other new parents with young infants, we were grateful to leave the kid at home for a while. But not all parents approach situations the same way.

What are the potential effects on the baby's health? You've mentioned that the noise level was moderate but not loud, and there was no smoking. In that case, the health risk is the same as if the woman and child went to any public business: a restaurant where no drinks are being served, or a movie theater, or the grocery store.

  • 4
    One thing about "adult settings" is that you are more likely to hear the occasional curse or other things that some parents may not like their child to be around. I would expect that in that case the parent should probably just remove themselves, rather than ask and expect other people to act differently for the sake of the child. (Which is slightly different from going to a public business, restaurant, movie theatre, or grocery store where the setting is meant for families) – DoubleDouble Apr 15 '15 at 21:26
  • 9
    In my area, it would be expected for the baby to be removed if they were to start acting up, more so than in a family-friendly setting, (where its just polite) – DoubleDouble Apr 15 '15 at 21:28
  • 6
    Just to add to what @DoubleDouble said (and as a non-parent), I'd be more concerned that a crying child would be a disturbance to others in that setting. Since you gave no indication of that, I see no reason to condemn the woman. – Basic Apr 17 '15 at 0:17
  • 3
    Attitudes to this vary widely over the globe. In a lot of places it's absolutely normal for there to be babies in places where adults are doing their thing. – DJClayworth Apr 17 '15 at 3:18
  • 1
    +1, I also agree with Basic. People don't go to a bar expecting a screaming infant, but as long as the infant behaves there's no problem. @DoubleDouble, swearing might be irrelevant for infants. You're completely right about children learning to speak, but this one appears to be too young. – Mast Apr 19 '15 at 18:13
41

I see no reason to think this inappropriate behavior.

Did you see any harm being done to the infant? There was no smoking in its presence. The baby was safely tucked into its bjorn carrier (already a positive parent sign), not being passed among the crowd, or mouthing everything in sight. She was having some drinks which she may have sorely missed while pregnant (maybe she wasn't nursing, or if she was, had surplus frozen so that she could feed the baby untainted milk for a day or two.) She was out having fun, and didn't leave the infant in anyone else's care, for which reason no one here knows.

There seems a desire to question this woman's behavior because she doesn't fit a stereotypical ideal of motherhood. The truth is, none of us know what kind of mother she is. And few of us would stand up to scrutiny 24 hours a day. I certainly did not.

The main question for me is (and you, as you stated): was she harming the baby? Can it be said how?

Based on the information presented, I'd say no.

Maybe she is a single mom who chose to have the baby. Had she been there without it, you'd never know that. Maybe it was a special evening for her to celebrate with her friends. Maybe she only did it once. Maybe the sitter no-showed.

Is this something people do?

I don't go to pubs, so I can't really say. If it's not a rowdy place (and it actually sounds lovely), it wouldn't surprise me. One thing you might consider (which seems obvious but really isn't) is that infants of only a few weeks are relatively uncommon, because they grow so fast. When you see one, it stands out. So, one infant in a pub might actually be an uncommon sight.

I myself don't care if she did it only once, or she does it once a month, as long as they are both safe and happy.

None of us can know her situation, and in events like these, it's best to judge as you would really, honestly want to be judged: being given the benefit of the doubt.

  • 1
    I didn't mean to make it seem as if I was judging her skills as a mother. I can see how my question could be read that way. When I say it's not anything I would do, I'm thinking that yes, she is being perfectly responsible, but we're in a place whose entire purpose is alcohol, so it's other people I'm worried about. I say this as an outsider; I have no children. I'm sure my tune will change when I've been inside for four months, which may be her case. If so, she picked a very good place to go. I'm asking purely from a place of curiosity, and FMI for when I have kids of my own. – krugmeister65 Apr 15 '15 at 19:36
  • 10
    When you have children of your own, don't cave to the pressures of outsiders to conform. Think outside the box. Let your sons take dancing lessons if they want (our whole family took ballroom dancing lessons for a few months. It was great fun!) Take your daughter rock climbing, and teach her science. Do your best for your children, and don't worry what other people think. – anongoodnurse Apr 15 '15 at 19:44
  • 8
    @krugmeister65 Why do you say that the place's entire purpose is alcohol? It sounds like the woman is having a nice, social time with her friends — that's the primary purpose of every nice pub I've ever been to. – mattdm Apr 16 '15 at 9:02
  • 3
    Your note about no drinking while pregnant is pretty significant. My wife and I had two babies 18 months apart. Thanks to breastfeeding she was alcohol-free from May 2010 to February 2014. I don't think I can put to words how bad she needed a drink when she was done with that stage ^^. – corsiKa Apr 16 '15 at 15:16
  • 1
    I can't find any intent to judge (harshly or otherwise) nor a desire to condemn in the posted question. This answer would be greatly improved by focusing on answering the question instead of defending against an attack that isn't there. – jcm Apr 17 '15 at 11:47
17

Baby wearing is great for a baby! And at such a young age they tend to sleep for a couple hours, eat and then just hang out interacting with their world. Change their diaper and repeat. It gets pretty mundane so introducing a new environment can be a nice change for both mom and baby. It's not a place the baby can lay around and explore their surroundings so it's not something you would do often but nice this mom had the option.

I think it takes a bold parent to do this because many would be afraid of judgement or stares from others (parents and non-parents). While not a bar I brought my 6 week old to a wine social once (put on by my moms club to give moms a night out) and worship in a wrap. It was my first evening out doing something fun for me in months and was food for my soul. It worked for me because my baby was young enough he didn't sleep on a schedule yet (or rather did ok when the schedule changed a bit). I also once took my baby and a 5 yr old to a wine and oyster tasting. My older son had a great time slurping down raw oysters but ultimately had too much energy to be in a small space with glass bottles he shouldn't to touch. We left after 30 min and I haven't done that again but don't regret trying it.

I don't know that it's frowned on so much as it's just probably not practical for many with kids. If you have one baby you can do things like this easily buy more than one you cannot.

The point: as a parent worry less about what's normal and right and more about meeting your needs and your children's needs.

  • 1
    The notion of introducing Baby to new environments is pretty neat. I hadn't thought of a bar as a place that a new baby should experience, but when I look at it, why not? As long as the baby is safe and in good company, the combination of lights, sounds, smells would actually be quite stimulating! Okay, maybe not all smells in a bar are desirable, but baby is literally a stationary turd machine, so it doesn't have a leg to stand on in that argument. :-p – corsiKa Apr 16 '15 at 15:19
15

I don't drink, and neither does my wife, so I don't exactly spend much time in bars - so I haven't seen this, but that's not really evidence of anything in my book. I also don't know the law in this regard, so if it's actually illegal, obviously you shouldn't do it.

Additionally, as was pointed out in other answers, the effect of alcohol on a nursing baby is not insignificant; but I think this isn't really asking about that (and it's no different if you drink at home).

I would point out that (either legally or socially) disallowing women with infants from bars is a subtle form of gender discrimination. You're doing something that has very little impact on men, and has a significant impact on women, between the single mothers and the fact that (even in this day and age) women tend to be the caretakers of infants. Barring women from bars if they have an infant in a wrap (or stroller) limits their ability to go out and socialize, and that's going to have a disparate impact on women versus men.

Certainly it's possible to hire a babysitter or a cousin or (...) to watch your baby, and I'd think that is a better option; but requiring it, either legally or socially, would mean many single women and mothers who have less helpful husbands would have to choose between going out and spending $50-$100 on babysitting, or not socializing with their friends; thus, poor and middle class single women would often have to forgo socialization. It's not as bad as being banned from breastfeeding in public places, but it's in the same direction.

Obviously the actual risks of having a baby in the bar would need to be weighed against that disparate impact, but I suspect the actual risks are relatively low, as long as either she isn't breastfeeding, doesn't drink herself, or is careful to time things so she won't have a high alcohol content in her breastmilk at feeding time.

The latter seems difficult, but in the former two cases, I don't really see a practical reason for forbidding it. The reason minors aren't allowed in bars is the concern that it will have an impact on their moral development (ie, they'll be exposed to curse words, fighting, etc., drinking culture, lewd women, etc.), which won't really effect a four month old. As far as mouthing things, well, that's a concern anywhere: I don't think bars are especially concerning compared to restaurants or movie theaters. As long as the baby is kept close to the mother and she doesn't drink too much, I think the baby would be perfectly fine.

  • Hmm... a very good and less "ranty" answer than mine. +1 – anongoodnurse Apr 15 '15 at 19:19
  • 2
    I don't necessarily think the focus is on a woman in a bar. It could just as easily been the father with the baby bjorn in the bar. I wonder if that would have raised as many eyebrows though.. Hrm.. – Brian Robbins Apr 15 '15 at 20:37
  • 2
    Probably not... but the point is not that it's specifically a woman in this case: the point is that it's usually a woman, because single mothers are more common than single fathers and mothers caring for children is more common than fathers. – Joe Apr 15 '15 at 20:51
  • Hmm, I'd guess a man with a baby in a bar would bring more questions, because people would be more likely to assume that he will neglect the baby to socialize with his friends. – Jay Apr 16 '15 at 13:40
14

We regularly took our first child to the pub with us. Every Friday from when he was about 10 days old until about 9 months.

The reasons why:

  • so we could still socialise with our friends
  • so we weren't stuck in a house all day with a child. This is an essential part of remaining sane
  • he slept only from about 2am to about 4am so we wanted to maximise the time we spent doing useful things
  • he loved it. He's now a very sociable 14 year old and has always enjoyed meeting people

I wouldn't take kids to a place that allowed smoking, but the social environment of a bar is fine, in my view.

12

If it's a nice pub, where people get together for a few drinks and a good time, with a bit of music in the back, I honestly can see no reasonable difference between that location and doing the exact same thing in the setting of your own (or a friend or family members) home.

I would not think twice about someone taking their child to a birthday party or other such family/friendly event. And the exact same things happen in those that happen in a bar: people talk, music plays, some people drink alcohol.

10

I can think of nothing wrong with this. On the other hand, there are various good reasons for doing it:

  • Parents of newborns tend to get cooped up at home. Getting out and
    socializing is important to relieve this, and some parents don't have access to (or don't want) babysitting.
  • For first-time parents, going out in public with a newborn can be a bit scary. One way to make this less stressful is for the first few outings to be something enjoyable and stress-free. e.g. A drink with friends rather than grocery shopping or banking. This builds confidence for taking the baby out on errands.
  • Some parents are very conscious of the possibility of becoming a nuisance if their baby happens to start crying loudly, so a noisy gathering is a good choice (the baby's crying won't make much difference at the pub, but at the bank it would be a substantial disturbance, bringing unwanted attention to the parent).
  • It introduces the baby to a more dynamic environment, with new sights, sounds, smells, faces and voices.

All in all it's a great thing to do.

  • If the environment was so loud that people wouldn't notice a 3 - 4 month old crying, then this would be far too loud for the child. – user1751825 Apr 16 '15 at 14:08
  • Also when an infant starts crying loudly, most parents are far more concerned for their baby than for those who might be bothered by the noise. When small babies cry, there is always a good reason. You do your best to attend to the babies needs, rather than simply trying to drown out the noise. – user1751825 Apr 16 '15 at 14:20
  • I think it's more that a crying baby is less noticeable in casual conversation at a public place than, say, a musical performance or golf competition, not that the baby would be unnoticed. – Acire Apr 16 '15 at 16:54
  • 1
    @user1751825: I didn't mean people wouldn't notice the baby crying at the pub, just that it wouldn't create such a disturbance, since pubs aren't usually quiet places. As for "far too loud for the child", I don't know of any research into this matter, but I've never had reason to believe that pub-level noise might be harmful to babies. Often, they find it calming, and sleep through it. – Igby Largeman Apr 17 '15 at 0:10
5

I'd be more worried about someone bringing a 16-year-old to a bar than a baby. The 16 y.o. might drink; the baby presumably will not.

If the bar was a rough place where drunken brawls regularly break out, then yes, I'd say bringing a baby is a bad idea.

If the mother got drunk and did something to endanger the baby, of course that would be a problem. Or if she got caught up in the socializing and neglected the baby -- stuck him in a corner and left him there for hours unattended -- that would be a problem.

But you could say the same about taking a baby almost anywhere. If you take your baby to the grocery store and leave him in a corner unattended that would be a problem. If you go to a friends house and get caught up in socializing and fail to take proper care of your baby that's a problem.

But assuming that she was responsible, I don't see any problem with this.

BTW Since my first child was born 20-something years ago I have not had a single drink in a bar -- I've eaten at some bar-and-grills but did not consume alcohol -- and I have never taken a baby to a bar, so I'm not in any way defensive on this question. :-)

3

It's not something I've heard of or seen people doing, and I live in WI where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a bar and minors are allowed in any bar as long as they are with a parent. As far as the health of the baby is concerned, if the mother is nursing and drinking moderately to excessively, that could lead to developmental delays. From an overall health standpoint I wouldn't say the situation you described is much worse than a parent taking an infant to the movies. However, I would say there is definitely a social stigma attached to having children that young in a bar.

  • generally, movies are much safer environments that don't include the random scuffle breaking out that includes the throwing of glass bottles... – hownowbrowncow Apr 15 '15 at 20:13
  • 2
    Given the scene that was described in the original post, I would suggest that the noise level at a movie would potentially do more harm than what was experienced there. – awhitson Apr 15 '15 at 20:20
  • But then it is much easier for a mother to drink moderately to excessively while she is at home, and much less likely that anyone would stop her if she actually got drunk. – gnasher729 Apr 18 '15 at 13:26
2

You've stated that the bar is not loud, and is smoke-free, so the environment itself should have no negative impact on the child.

One potential cause for concern though would be what the mother was drinking. If she is still breast feeding, then alcohol consumption can be problematic.

Aside from that, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a baby being in this sort of environment.

2

You know, the other day I was talking with my wife about this after we eat in a restaurant and walked across a bar. Currently, we are living in an area where we don't have family and no close friends. And I don't really like the idea to leave my child with a babysitter because I consider she is still too young for a babysitter (our baby is 2 months old). And well, we were thinking about going to this bar with our baby girl.

Now, the point is that here I present you a couple of reasons why we are considering, and consequently you can't know what are the reasons behind her decision to go to a bar with a baby. Yeah, probably in my case, if we would live in an area where we have family, I would ask them to take care of my baby for a couple of hours.

Is this pretty usual?, sincerely, no, I hadn't seen too much... Is safe for the baby? I would say yes if the bar is like you described, babies at that age tend to sleep a lot especially when they go out...

  • 1
    I don't think you've explicitly answered "What are the potential effects of being in a bar-style environment on a baby's health?" It seems that you're saying, "There are no potential health effects...". If that's the case, could you make that more clear? – user11394 Apr 18 '15 at 3:12
2

The particular situation has been covered thoroughly in other answers, but let's try to look at the bigger picture: what is better for a child's development - a single, repetitive stimulus or varied stimuli? Laying the whole day at one place and looking at the ceiling or visiting places and seeing and smelling and hearing different things?

I think that, provided there are no safety or health objections, a child, however small, can and perhaps even should be taken to different places and environments. Let's not hinder our LO's development by keeping it in a ill-conceived safety bubble.

0

Although this is something I personally wouldn't do, I can't find anything about a baby simply being in a bar that would cause the child harm.

Is this something people do?

Yes. Yes it is. And there's quite a debate about it depending on where you are located. In your instance, it's okay for a minor to be in the bar. The law allows for it, and the mother embraced it.

What are the potential effects of being in a bar-style environment on a baby's health?

There are always risks when you're out with your baby. A bar setting would simply enhance a few of those, especially with alcohol involved. The primary example I can think of in your setting would be someone tripping into and knocking over the mother and baby. The brewpub may not have been crowded or rowdy, but accidents happen.

  • 3
    First of all, germs are everywhere, not just bars, but also restaurants, grocery stores etc. Would you ban infants from all those places? Secondly, the poster explicitly states that minors can be in a bar, so legally it was OK. – Ida Apr 15 '15 at 20:43
  • A bar setting can be known for more spills and vomiting than a grocery store – Brian Robbins Apr 15 '15 at 21:25
  • 3
    Ha! let us not compare which places are the germiest; I would surely win, as any look at my home has caused people to turn to stone.Let's not search for reasons to keep women from living in freedom - someone might jostle her! That can happen by a drunk panhandling on the street. But mostly I would encourage us to think first, speak our peace and then hold to what we believe is right regardless. – anongoodnurse Apr 16 '15 at 8:50
0

I would approach it from the point-of-view of the other patrons in the bar (not part of the mother's group). One reason I go to bars is that it is the one place you can get away from kids. You can get a bit squiffy, tell a bawdy joke, not have to mind your language too much and generally be in the company of other like-minded adults.

This is all rather spoiled if a baby starts squawking in the background or a toddler is scampering about with a toy. I can get that at home...

So if it's a quiet bar in the afternoon (or better still, if she's out in the beer garden) it's tolerable. If it's evening (adult-time) then she should find somewhere a little more family-centric.

  • In my case the baby was actually very calm. He was probably one of the most contented kids I've ever seen. Had he been making a fuss, and the mother didn't remove the baby from the situation, it would have irked me and I'm sure other patrons, some of which were probably there to get away from that exact noise. This is an adult setting, as opposed to a family restaurant. – krugmeister65 Apr 16 '15 at 11:58
  • 2
    Babies very rarely "squawk" when they're being carried. At a few months old you'd barely notice they're there. – user1751825 Apr 16 '15 at 13:58
  • @krugmeister65 The babies making a fuss are usually those in strollers, rather than those being worn. Babies like to be very close to their mum or dad, and when worn in a suitable carrier, they tend to be very content little people. – user1751825 Apr 16 '15 at 14:04
  • 3
    When my youngest was only a few days old, my wife and I went to a weekend event in Cambridge, with daughter in a sling. One of the otehr guests only realised we had a baby with us after about 5 hours together! – Rory Alsop Apr 16 '15 at 14:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.