Mums and Children in Cafes – are we really not wanted?

Mums and Children in Cafes – are we really not wanted?

By Vanessa Beddoe-Sandstrom

We’ve all been there – you’ve barely had a sip of your coffee when bubs decides it’s time to let everyone know what a bad mum you are. It’s the first chance you’ve had to relax all day, when suddenly you don’t just have to deal with a hysterical baby but with the silent wrath of all the other customers. 
How would you feel if you were asked to leave a cafe, just as you’d tried to start breastfeeding your baby to calm them down? And how long is too long, before you give up and pack up? This is the situation a young BoP mum recently found herself in, when her 4-month-old son did what all 4-month-old babies do: started crying and wouldn’t stop.
According to some comments on the story that featured in the Bay of Plenty Times last week, children should be all but banned from cafes. Here’s a sample of some of the more extreme attitudes expressed by people towards children in cafes:
“I can't believe the nerve of the parent complaining [about being asked to leave]. If you decide to have the joys of child bearing, you must also be willing to forgo the joys associated of not having children. It is simple as that. You don't bring your child to nightclubs; same applies to cafes. I sit at my local and all I can see is inconsiderate women who park their prams and block the aisle, it is an inconvenience to avoid the minefield of prams and the atmosphere is absolutely ruined when a child is unsettled and screaming.” 
“Where do these self important parents get off trying to impose their parenting styles onto other cafe patrons. Clearly the mum went there to relax, funny that cause chances are so did everyone else around her. If she didn't go there to relax then arrange with her galpals to take her kid jogging.”
“I am tired of parents getting special treatment at the disadvantage of those of us who chose not to have children. I don't want to hear a screaming child at any time, let alone when trying to enjoy a meal at a cafe. Thumbs up to the cafe owners!” 
I feel sympathy for the mother who was asked to leave. Having a 4-month-old baby isn't easy - especially if it's your first. As we all know, babies this age often like to scream and usually a feed does the trick, which is what the mum in the story said she was about to do. It can take a little while to get baby ready to feed and while no one wants to listen to a baby scream during this time, it is a part of life: family, community, old and young. In Italy the cafe owner would be more likely to scoop the baby up and give the mum a break, with sympathetic smiles from others. Because that's what life is about. Looking after people and overlooking the odd time your peace is broken by the sounds of life. 
But that’s not to say a baby or child should be left to scream and disturb people who’ve paid good money to sit and relax in a nice atmosphere. Whenever I’m at a cafe and my children start to play up, I immediately remove them from the situation (after transferring my coffee to a takeaway cup). This is foremost out of respect to the other customers but also for myself, because it’s no fun trying to calm a baby/kid down in a room full of strangers. But as anyone with kids knows, immediately for a parent can take a couple of minutes of clearing up and finding Tupperware lids – to which a heartfelt “sorry about this” to surrounding tables doesn’t go amiss.
So what are your thoughts? Do you take your children to cafes and leave straight away if they’re disruptive or do you feel you’ve got just as much right to be there – noise and all? How did you feel about this before you had children?
Please let us know in the comments below.



Christy Mclaughlin on 28 January 2013 23:32
When I only had one child I didn't really have too much trouble, I just fed my daughter under a wrap when she was under 6 months and after that she was easily entertained by snacks (a whole apple kept her entertained for ages). Now with 3 under 3 it's a lot harder and I rarely go out to regular cafe's especially if I don't have someone to help - I do however, love McCafe - I can catch up with other Mums and enjoy a coffee while my children play :)


sarah crossan on 28 January 2013 12:59
i dont take my child to town its much easier and quicker for me to leave her with someone. children shouldnt be banned but maybe cafes could look at haveing an area where parents with babies and children could sit so they are not right next to other customers i do think parents need to be more considerate to other people who are trying to relax and have a conversation with other people and a crying baby or child can make that for you

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