A Hastings woman has been referred to Child, Youth and Family after leaving her 6-month-old baby on the floor of a KFC restaurant yesterday.

The woman arrived with her mother just after 12.30pm, but they soon started arguing. The heated debate then spilled to a carpark and the child was left inside a capsule on the ground for a matter of minutes.

Outraged members of public cared for the baby and refused to return him to his mother when she stormed back into the Hastings eatery.

"There was some confusion in the store about the mother's intentions and some customers became concerned and took it upon themselves to keep the baby safe," Sergeant Glen Yule said.

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"The mother made some unfortunate comments that may have been misconstrued."

After assessing the situation, police were satisfied the baby was not in any danger and made a referral to Child, Youth and Family regarding the incident.

Cherie Sweeney, founder and volunteer of an organisation called Nation of Advocates for the Rights of Children, had been contacted by "irate" witnesses who were shocked that nothing more was done.

"She was more interested in having a domestic dispute which seriously put a child at risk," Ms Sweeney said.