How Do You Handle A Screaming Baby?

When that baby is not yours?

Today at lunch, Declan and I were at a diner. It was busy. Bustling. It’s the last week for Christmas shopping, right? We were packed in like sardines with everyone else who was trying to get done a million things today.

The family next to us could only be described as snooty. Well, if we want to get technical, the mom definitely had a stick up her ass, and the dad was just an asshole. The two teen boys seemed typical – and actually a little embarrassed by their parents.

Because those parents were mad – really really really mad – about a baby crying a short distance from us.

To the point where they asked the server – I shit you not – to have the baby and her family moved away.

Oh yeah – that baby was screaming her head off. Like breaking glass decibels. But she was a baby. It was chaotic in there. I was on edge myself. But I REALLY got on edge when that poor waiter had to go over, and politely ask them, “Can I help you with anything? Would another area of the restaurant work better for you?”

Kudos for him for skirting the issue.

Declan watched the whole thing with a look of fascination.

I finally made him move to my side of the table so we could whisper about it like two teenage girls.

He said the baby was really annoying him too. But he knew she would calm down eventually. And why be rude to everyone when it was super loud in the restaurant to begin with?

“She must not remember what it was like to have a baby.”


photo by Upsilon Andromedae

This article has 15 comments

  1. zipper

    I have to admit – screaming babies drive me nuts – but as long as parents are trying, I understand.

  2. Tree

    Love how Declan handled it.

    I am certain I would have looked sympathetically at the family once or twice, then simply tried to ignore them and NOT look at them. They were likely overly sensitive about any glances from other diners.

  3. Dalyce

    Betcha the baby was making her parents feel on edge, but maybe the bad energy of the stuck up folk was what had that babe going off. Good lesson for your boy, sounds like he’s got it figured out.

  4. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Jenny – your point is really true as well. And zipper. If the parents are trying – sometimes a baby – and even a kid – are just having a bad day. But I also don’t like the idea that a parent is just letting their kid scream unattended – boo. (That was not the case today – the parents were trying their best, and it was cold outside, so not easy to just nip out – kwim?)

  5. Submommy

    I have actually said to a parent of a crying baby, “It gets better,” and smiled sympathetically. The last thing that family needed was Stick-Up-Her-Butt’s dirty looks and impatience.

    I’ve also been given dirty looks by the old bitty’s at the grocery store while The Boy was having a 4 year old meltdown, and said, “Nothing to see here! Unless you want to help.”

  6. Sunday

    I seem to have an unending amount of patience for screaming babies and children because of my own two that have autism. We rarely, if ever, venture into a restaurant but the few times we have had to because of traveling I have been so grateful for those who have shown some measure of grace towards us.

  7. Jenny

    Babies are different from older kids. We once sat in a booth next to a maybe 4ish child, who screamed for 10 minutes straight. When management approached them after multiple complaints, the mom said she could not remove the child, because that’s what the kid wanted, was to leave the table, and she could not reward her screaming.
    While I get that, you can’t force an entire restauant to deal with your behavior management issues. Several people got up and left. I would never, as a parent, allow my child to do that, on a plane, a restaurant, anywhere.
    Ps I would have stepped out with my fussy baby too, though. Sometimes you just have to call it a fail and head home. But some people just think the world revolves around them.

  8. Kath

    I refuse to let it bother me.

    Why? Ultimately I don’t have to go home with the kids. My inconvenience is temporary compared to the parents.

    When I look at screaming kids with that viewpoint, I’m ok with several minutes of a screamfest.

  9. JoAnn

    Parents who are trying to remedy the situation get my full understanding. Parents who sit there and just let the screaming happen, do not. Sorry.

    I’ve been there. I’ve quieted a child. I’ve also bolted from a busy restaurant with a screaming child who couldn’t be distracted, redirected or quieted, and my threshold for such misery is pretty low. My husband and I had a plan in place: I grab the kid and bolt for the door while apologizing to people; he grabs the stuff and pays the tab. No harm, no foul.

    Granted, my daughter was an easy baby, and I can count on one hand the number of times we had to result to that Plan. But, we did it. Anything less than that was mortifying to us.

    Parents who sit oblivious to their child(ren)’s screams irritate me to no end.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I see kids on my lawn. Where’s my cane?

  10. Jennifer James

    Oh, how I love a screaming baby! It brings back how much I miss that age. I don’t understand why people just can’t respect babies.

  11. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    yes, exactly. attitude is everything – and if the parents are trying, what else can you do but accept you got “caught” in a space at a bad time and let the parent off the hook?

  12. painted maypole

    i realize the waitress works for tips, so can’t be a jerk back to the snooty family. she could have offered to move them.

    when i flew once with my daughter at abouty 6 months she was crying, crying, crying. I was standing in the aisle, rocking her, trying to get her to calm down. The woman two rows behind me looked completely pissed off that she was not getting to nap. Then a woman passed me on the way to the bathroom and said “what a beautiful baby.” to this day I think of that as one of the kindest things anyone ever said to me.

  13. Kyria @ Travel Spot

    I get annoyed, yes, it’s a loud noise…but it’s a BABY! It can’t help it. The only thing that would be really annoying would be if the parents were there but not trying to do anything (ie on the phone) to soothe the baby. That is way more annoying than the noise!

  14. Megan

    Interesting. I think the world would be a bit of an easier place to live if we all were a bit more patient with each other:)

  15. MargieK

    I like that “caught in a bad space” attitude. I don’t LIKE listening to a screaming baby; nobody does. But I so well remember those days, that I have plenty of patience for parents who are trying. I feel bad for the parents that appear to be trying everything and not having success.

    At some point, when nothing seems to be working (and patrons are leaving), the parents need to remove the child, pay the bill, etc., and get out of there. If you’ve been a parent, you’ve been there, done that. If not with a baby (which I have plenty of patience for), then with a tantrum-y toddler.

    The location and situation makes a difference, too. An already noisy, busy diner is quite different from a special occasion, “date night/get a sitter” restaurant. I’d have a lot less patience for the dolt who brings a whiny and/or screaming child to the latter (and doesn’t leave).

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