An article recently came out detailing a woman’s response to a baby crying in a stroller in a clothing store. The woman passed judgement on the mom of the baby for talking about
baby clothes with her friend rather than attending to the baby and then went up to the baby and spoke directly to the baby, comforting her. The annoyed mother ignored her and moved the stroller on.
Ignoring the mom and talking to the baby helps the baby stop crying for a moment but it doesn’t help the family.
If you are worried about the family dynamic, talk to the mom compassionately and only then ask to address the baby itself.
Here is how I address the parent of a crying baby:
1) Come up to the mother slowly, with a little wave.
2) “I’m so sorry to interrupt what you’re doing. I noticed you have a beautiful baby. Look at that awesome hair/ beautiful eyes/ cute feet. I just love babies and I am a parent of (a 4-year-old now). I just remember how gut-wrenching it was when my babies cried and how hard it is to ever get anything done.”
3) If mama responds in a friendly way, you can offer experience, “My babies loved it when I wore them in a Beco Gemini carrier. They also loved to hold those silicone teething necklaces when I was busy. I used to go to these local parenting meetings/ group called…”
4) If mama responds warmly again, you can ask:
“Would you mind if I said hello to your baby?”
5) If the mother is VERY friendly or admitting to be very tired, I may offer “If you are comfortable with it, I’d be happy to bounce your baby for a minute.”
I want to run to a crying baby. My heart hurts. I want to pick him up. I want to talk to him and sing to him. But I don’t do that because I respect the parent and I would never want a stranger to address my crying baby without my permission.
My baby never cried but that didn’t make me think a parent with a baby crying in the stroller was ill-equipped, negligent or that I should try to com for the baby myself. Even babies who have been well-parented with attachment and attentiveness and respect sometimes cry a lot for no reason we know and no amount of needs-meeting or comforting help. Some babies have colic which we think is intestinal discomfort from gas but we aren’t sure that’s all there it to it. Sometimes these moms need a break.
Sometimes moms who deal with a lot of crying do need to just ignore it for a minute and try to have a normal moment. Of course there are just people who parent in a way that ignores babies’ cries but our interaction with the baby once won’t help that dynamic. And when we first approach a stranger, we don’t know enough to judge.