Crying baby debate: Cafe made right call

By Cassandra Mason

How do you feel about babies crying in public?Photo / Thinkstock
How do you feel about babies crying in public?Photo / Thinkstock

Debate has been raging over a Mt Maunganui cafe that asked a mother to take her crying baby outside on the weekend, but a wave of public feedback shows that almost 90 per cent of people are siding with the cafe.

Tauranga mum Courtney Pope was approached and asked to leave by a co-owner of Providores Urban Food Store on Sunday as she tried to settle her crying 4-month-old son.

The cafe owners, criticised by a parent support group and the Restaurant Association, stand by their actions, saying they were responding to complaints from other customers.

And feedback on a Bay of Plenty Times poll shows that the public is on their side.

The poll asked readers whether they agreed with the parents or the cafe owners, and 87 per cent responded that they thought the café had done the right thing.

Most believed it was the parents' responsibility to take their screaming child outside out of courtesy to other patrons.

"If a baby is crying and you are unable to settle it, I can't see why you would want to continue to sit in a cafe and eat your meal instead of taking care of your baby. At home I wouldn't leave a child at a table to disrupt the rest of the family's meals so why would I do it in public?" asked one reader.

"It is not relaxing for anyone to listen to a bawling baby. Children should be welcome, at any age, but common-sense dictates that when your child, or baby, is losing it then it's time to go," wrote another.

Others' views on the topic were quite extreme, suggesting cafes go as far as banning children.

"Good, now maybe other customers can enjoy "brunch" without other peoples screaming kids. What is it with "brunch mums" who feel that they have the right to ruin other peoples relaxation with their screaming misbehaving free range kids? Time to make all cafes and restaurants into kid free zones."

Even some parents of small children sympathised with the cafe, one mother writing "Out of respect for everyone ... put the child's needs before they get upset and everyone will be happy. If you need to leave, do so & leave the latte."

One reader expressed joy that she now knew where to go to enjoy a quiet atmosphere. "Good, now I know which café to go to so I can spend my money and enjoy a relaxing brunch!"

Another agreed "Good on the cafe, had never been there before, but will certainly try it now."

However, 12 per cent didn't believe it was the café's place to tell parents what to do.

"Have either of the other 'people' who have commented got children? Have they ever tried to comfort a distressed child? I'm guessing not. It can be very difficult, there is no magic wand to wave and when they are too small to tell you what's wrong."

Chief executive of family support group Parent to Parent Anne Wilkinson agreed that the owners were out of order.

"That isn't the way to deal with it - you try to help. It's sad for the family and I think you'd expect a lot more understanding from the shop owners and others who were complaining.''

Providores made headlines for the same thing last January when Aucklander Bryan Nicholson and his family were asked to remove their 14-month-old daughter Brylee for making noise.

- www.nzherald.co.nz

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