Stepping Out

Your Mission: Church or Temple

What to know before you go: You're in a sacred place where stretches of silence are the norm and the pews are filled with unfamiliar faces ogling Baby. Could you blame her if she chooses to let loose with her own version of choir practice? Aim for a not? so?crowded service or a kids' mass where your little one's squeals will be muffled, says Bridget Pelosi, a mom of three in Chatham, New Jersey. If possible, arrive right after a nap when she's in good spirits. Oh, and that itchy dress with all the fancy stitching is so cute, but she'll be comfier (translation: she'll cry less) in a cotton romper.

While you're there: Snag a seat on the aisle or stand in the back of the room, where you can rock your sweetie or slip outside if she starts getting fussy. Try parking yourself next to another mom who's likely to be empathetic. What if Baby interrupts a holy moment by exercising her lungs? Bring a stash of "church only" quiet playthings that your cutie sees only once a week to hold her interest. And if your house of worship has a crying room, use it! "I discovered this the first time I took my son to a service," says Erica Zidel, of Seattle, mom to Gavin, 5. "The room is closed off from the main synagogue, but it has windows and speakers so you can see and hear the service." Above all, "don't freak out," says Virginia Babiasz, of Louisville, Kentucky, whose kids are 5 months, 1, and 3. "I figure for all these years I've had to deal with other people's kids screaming, now they can deal with mine!"

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