Nippers not wanted
The rights and wrongs of banning babies
IT IS a familiar sound. You are enjoying a quiet beer in your local watering-hole when someone starts crying.
Unlike (most) adults, babies cannot seem to order a refreshing bottle without howling.
Those who visit bars to seek refuge from rugrats are fighting back. Last month Hot Bird, a craft-beer bar in Brooklyn, barred children.
Its owner was fed up with parents who thought their brats were entitled to VIP service despite drinking only milk.
One pair of parents asked for the music to be turned down because their five-month-old was trying to sleep.
Unattended sprogs have fallen after climbing on bar-stools. A dog bit one little girl after she petted it.
The dog-owner and the dog fled. The parents blamed the bartender.
Hot Bird is not alone. Other pubs plagued by prams have taken to excluding children. Double Windsor bans tots after 5pm.
Union Hall, a hipster hot-spot, put a “No Strollers, Please” sign on its door in 2008
(though it does allow kiddies in a few afternoons a week).
Greenwood Park, which has a lovely beer garden and pitches itself as “family friendly”, closes its doors on kids under 21 after 7pm.
Bratophobia is not confined to New York. In January Grant Achatz, a Michelin-rated chef,
complained about a crying baby in his Chicago restaurant. He could hear it crying even in the noisy kitchen.
Via Twitter, he wondered if he should ban children. Last year a Virginia sushi bar banned all diners under 18.
Olde Salty, a restaurant in North Carolina, allows kiddies, but has a no-tolerance policy for screamers.
Businesses that shut out children argue that parents have plenty of other places to go.
In New York Parkslopeparents.com lists lots of kid-friendly bars and restaurants.
Cinemas are usually accommodating. The “cry baby matinee” at the East 86th Street Cinema, for instance, shows grown-up movies but welcomes babies.
The lights are dimmed just a little bit and the volume is not very loud.
There is even a nappy-changing table near the back.
Balancing the interests of parents and non-parents is hard.
Families like to travel, but others on long-haul flights want to sleep in peace.
The Economist once published a wry leader advocating child-free zones on planes and trains.
Malaysian Airlines has taken our advice: it bans infants from its first-class cabins and offers child-free zones in economy in some planes.
No American airline has followed suit.
Parents, by and large, think non-parents should grin and bear it when a wailing infant briefly disturbs their tranquil,
responsibility-free existence. It is not as if non-parents had to get up and feed the little horror four times last night.
A cramped Brooklyn outlet of Barnes & Noble, a book chain, requires strollers to be left in a designated parking space on the second floor.
Many mums are furious. Have you ever tried to hold a baby, sip a latte and read “The Gruffalo”, all at once? It's not easy.