When they’re squidgy little newborns nobody seems to mind if you have them sleeping quietly in their buggy next to you in a restaurant, or snuggled discreetly in a sling. Roll on a few months though and as your baby becomes more animated, so do people’s reactions to you taking them to places…
Newborn babies on planes tends to be ok. They feed a lot and sleep a lot. No problem. When they approach six months though it’s a totally different ballgame. You spend the whole time trying to keep an alert baby quiet, and trying to contain their arms and legs under a flimsy fold-down table in an attempt not to catapult a cup of drink over the man sitting next to you. Or, in worst case scenarios when your partner uses their precious air miles so that you can fly on your first ever business class flight, you pick a night flight on the pretence that your baby will sleep. And in fact they are too distracted by all the new sights, smells and noises to sleep. So they spend the entire flight crying, whilst you’re pacing up and down the gangway sweating like a pig and getting the sideeye from all the other passengers.
Restaurant diners would hardly even notice a little newborn sleeping quietly in the corner, but as soon as your baby reaches five or six months they’re so alert that they don’t want to be lying there missing out on all the action, they want to be up and out and looking at what’s going on. And sometimes that involves a bit of crying too. While most of your fellow diners will politely ignore it, you’ll always get the odd few who look on disapprovingly, seemingly forgetting that you need to eat, possibly while sensing that you’re trying to keep your shit together as you wolf down your meal like a savage. Unless your child is screaming the place down, you can take two routes to pacifying the situation. Ignore the fellow diners and their total lack of compassion. Or throw them completely off guard by apologising profusely and explaining that babies do cry sometimes. Then try and enjoy your meal as best you can!
Packed commuter trains are the worst place for disapproving looks, especially if you throw in a bit of breastfeeding. But remember, you’re keeping a human alive and if that means that a train carriage has a bit more noise than usual or a buggy in the gangway, then so be it. You’ve got just as much right to be on the train as anyone else, of course you wouldn’t be on there unless you absolutely had to be, and surely a niggly baby can’t be any more disruptive than someone conducting a business meeting loudly on their phone, or a hungover bloke breathing kebab breath all over you. Let them stare!
Thankfully the days of being able to hear a pin drop in stuffy old libraries are a thing of the past and most libraries have a bright, interactive children’s area, and even a regular children’s story time. That doesn’t, however, mean you’re immune to disapproving glares from fellow library users who seem to forget that library or not, it’s a public place! If you’re having a bad day, or just want to annoy them further, reading a children’s book loudly to your little one is especially effective. That’s what libraries are for after all…
Yes you’re a mum, and yes you’ve got a baby, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need an alcoholic drink from time to time (understatement of the century…). So for anyone giving you a sly evil for taking your baby into a pub, raise your glass, make it a double, and D.I.O. That’ll really give them something to give you a dirty look about!
While returning to work may hang over some new mums with utter dread, some can’t wait to get back. Either way, popping back into the office to show off your new baby has become a rite of passage. Fortunately, (virtually) everyone loves a new baby. So you’ll probably discover hoards of colleagues welcoming you back with big smiles and lots of cooing. Be warned though, for every ten people who are pleased to see you there’ll be one miserable git peering over their computer like a meerkat with a face of thunder. Just ignore them. There’s nothing like an office killjoy to make you appreciate those last few months of mat leave!