Parents Perspective

Baby Ban at Fancy Restaurants? Why I Can Get Behind That

Imagine this: You and your partner decide to go all out for a date night and book dinner for two at one of the fanciest restaurants in America. I know, I know, most of our bank accounts won't allow for this--but just pretend! The restaurant is so exclusive that you have to pay in advance (roughly $500 per couple, and that's without drinks!) and there are no refunds allowed. At the last minute, the sitter you had arranged for that night cancels. What do you do? Do you call an emergency sitter—heck, what's an extra $100 when you're already spending so much on a meal!? Or do you pack up the baby and hope her sweet face will just add to the fine dining ambience?

Last weekend, a Chicago couple faced this exact dilemma, and opted for the second option—but when their baby started to loudly scream and cry through dinner at hot-spot Alinea, it wasn't just other diners who became annoyed. Alinea chef and co-owner Grant Achatz could hear the ruckus from the kitchen and tweeted:

I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I wouldn't blame Achatz if he instituted something like a no kids under 7 after 7 pm policy or banned babies altogether from Alinea. Now, it's one thing if you're at TGIFriday's or The Olive Garden and your own son or a kid at the next table gets a bit loud. That's absolutely to be expected. Even I, a woman without children of my own, but with plenty of pint-sized besties in my crew, know that kids are kids and sometimes kids make noise! But there are places that babies and kids are really too young for—places that demand more of the people who go there than little ones can muster.

When you take a small child or baby to a place like a fancy restaurant or theater that's clearly out of their realm, they will be uncomfortable, they will be upset, they will make a fuss. And when that child acts out, he'll likely get yelled at or at least get dirty looks from other people, even though it's really the parents' fault for putting their son or daughter in a situation they weren't ready for. Or in the case of what happened at Alinea, your baby will be fussy, and you probably won't fully enjoy the experience anyway—not to mention how your babe affects everyone else trying to have a nice night out.

In these situations, I really think we simply need to use common sense and think about what's age-appropriate for our children, even if it's inconvenient for us as adults in the moment. It's so important to introduce kids to the "real world," and to resist taking them to only the most "kid friendly" of places. But when parents wait until kids are a little older and more mature to take them to their first movie, their first music concert, and yes, even to their first nice restaurant, those events become precious milestones that everyone can enjoy. Rushing that process and putting kids in very adult settings too early just isn't fun or fair to anyone—least of all, your little one.

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TELL US: Should fancy restaurants like Alinea ask parents to leave their kids at home, or do you think your kiddos should be allowed anywhere you go?

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