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Friday, December 2, 2011

Power to the babies

calming_baby.jpg
  • From "Safe Baby Handling Tips"
If you've ever been to Ann's Snack Bar in Kirkwood, you know that the owner is infamous for the rules posted there. One of them is "Do not set babies on the counter."

In a restaurant whose indoor seating is limited to 8 stools at that counter, there's really nowhere else to put your baby. So, as far as I can see, the rule effectively eliminates the presence of the cute little bawlers for good reason. (Presumably, there's no problem with setting babies on the picnic tables outside.)

The presence of babies and children (usually under 6) in restaurants is a perennial controversy. Over the years, a few restaurants in Atlanta have explicitly banned them, causing considerable outrage among parents. I reported on a national brouhaha over a kiddy-ban last summer at a Pennsylvania restaurant.

Now there's another storm, an intercontinental one that began in the UK. Cosmo, a large buffet-style chain restaurant, has been charging a $5 "baby tax." This has recently produced a lot of commentary there and in this country. This, from a UK blog called Stroller Derby, seems to succinctly express the way many fed-up moms feel:

[As another blogger wrote:] “Many parents feel marginalized, even bullied when they take their toddlers out to a restaurant. While they may have gotten used to fellow patrons complaining about their crying babies, being charged extra for the privilege is the last straw.”

Exactly. Restaurants banning kids, airlines forcing babies to the back of the plane or splitting families up altogether. And here’s another one Yahoo sites: moms in the English town of Bath were charged $3 for bringing in baby food and not ordering off the children’s menu. After moms protested the restaurant withdrew its baby fee policy. Sheesh. What’s next? A breastfeeding tax? Or as one commenter on the Evening Standard wrote: “You might as well charge a pregnant women for taking up extra space.”

Of course, the controversy has produced the usual tirades about parents who fail to respect the serenity of other diners.

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