New-Parent Social Rules: Where You Can Take Baby

The Movies

In a perfect world

The theater's dark; maybe the baby will fall asleep and you can catch the latest Bond flick.

The reality

You've heard that a vacuum cleaner can lull your baby into dreamland, but could you really expect him to sleep through those deafening special effects? We don't think so. Plus, that booming surround sound can cause real damage. "Any noise that registers 90 decibels or higher can hurt a child's hearing," says Brenda Nixon, author of The Birth to Five Book. In recent years, even children's movies have measured up to 130 decibels. Not to mention the decibel level your awake and uncomfortable baby's crying can reach, and the irritation your fellow moviegoers will feel when it drowns out the film's dialogue.

Our advice

Wait for the DVD. If you're having serious Brad Pitt withdrawal, see whether a local cinema offers matinees just for mothers and kids under 2. Often during these screenings, the sound is turned down and the lights are left on. Otherwise, go during your little one's naptime, sit in the back, and figure on leaving before the final credits roll.

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