By Christina VanGinkel
A question was raised on an online board that I visit about whether or not it was ok to bring an infant (less than three months old) to a public gathering of adults. The original question pointed out that the mother was breastfeeding, so if she could not bring the infant along, she would not be able to go (nothing was noted about why the mother could not express milk to leave with a sitter). It was also pointed out that an infant of that age tends to fuss and cry and it would be a possible disruption to the crowd. The event was an all day affair, from mid morning to early evening.
That I was dismayed by the amount of answers, and the variety of reactions would be putting it mildly. Replies ranged from the 'It is totally ok', to 'don't be rude'. The ones saying that it would be rude referred to another event that they had been at where a mother brought an infant along, and it had cried incessantly, left for hours to fuss in its little carrier. I did not think this reflected on the baby so much as the mother, and I did point this out. Whether at home or somewhere else, an infant carrier / infant car seat is made to protect your little one during travel, and it is fine to let an infant sleep in one, but once they are awake they should be taken out, especially if they are fussing. A parent who uses a car seat as a potential babysitter is not doing the baby any good, or the other adults around them who must sit by, watch the infant fuss, and cry.
To the other extreme though, an infant less than three months old is hardly an intrusion on a gathering of adults, as long as the gathering does not involve smoke or drink. A three month old or younger cannot crawl around getting at things yet, and is not likely to be overly rambunctious. This particular gathering was a meeting of scrapbook enthusiasts. While many of the adults in attendance were probably there getting some much needed time away from their own clan, an infant in the room who was being cared for by his or her mother, and taken out of the room if they became fussy or started howling, would hardly be termed an intrusion, more likely an attraction. As long as the mother would be comfortable with letting others hold baby, and was ready to exit the room if baby fussed loudly, I thought it would be fine.
The strong reactions that were so varied prompted one member to suggest calling the event planners and asking their opinion or policy on just such a question. I personally would opt for this last suggestion and leave it up to the people holding the event. If you find yourself in such a situation and you do bring baby along, remember that others there may be escaping from their own children, so if baby fusses or cries, remove yourself and baby from the room until all is calm again. Do not be like the mother who apparently did not think her screaming infant was a disruption. Leave a good impression for the next mother who is torn between not going and going with infant in tow.