5 ways to handle a screaming baby in public

You're scurrying about your errands with baby in tow, and the wailing begins. What are the best ways to deal with a crying baby without coming unglued?

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  • As parents, we’ve all been there before. We plan ahead; lay baby down now, squeeze in a good feeding, then secure baby into the car seat and hurry off to run that urgent errand. Bottle, pacifier, toys, and diapers are carefully stowed away like arsenal in case of an attack. But despite our best efforts, baby does attack with a hysterical, maniacal meltdown.

  • Whether your sweet bundle is a tiny newborn or a temperamental two-year-old, crying episodes in public are never fun. Enduring strangers’ stares while juggling groceries or waiting in a crowded line and trying to calm baby can make the most composed parent want to melt down, too.

  • When my daughter was a baby, and I had to haul her with me for weekly grocery shopping, the store we frequented had a large, pent-up bouncy ball section. Every time she’d see those balls she’d come unhinged, crying and begging for her own ball. Of course, I wasn’t going to purchase a new ball for her each week. Instead, I decided to alter my route through the store to avoid that annoying ball display.

  • A large part of parenting includes devising strategies. To accomplish your tasks and keep your ticking time bomb from a crying explosion, try implementing these tips.

    • If your baby is a newborn, the crying episode probably shouldn’t be ignored. Try to pause whatever you’re doing to pick up and soothe baby and, if possible, feed her. Keep your cool and plaster a smile on your face to meet strangers’ looks. Most people sympathize because they have been in similar situations.

    • For older babies or toddlers, find a special treat or drink to reserve for errands only. I used to carry Dum Dum suckers to entice my little ones to be good during errands. I’d delay the reward as long as possible to get as much done as I could during our outing before handing it over. (“Please be as quiet as you can in this store, then you’ll get your lollipop at our next stop.”) Just be sure to keep your promise, or trust issues could arise.

    • Don’t give in to your toddler’s unseemly demands. As tempting as it is to buy off your little one, don’t agree to his demands for candy or a new toy just to appease him. In the long run, consider what you’re teaching your child. Rather, if the item he wants is reasonable, make him a deal. “I’ll buy this for you now, but you can’t open it until we get home and you do a chore to pay it off.”

    • Tag team running errands with a friend. To avoid public scenes altogether, consider trading babysitting with a friend or neighbor. You’ll be able to accomplish your errand more efficiently, and your little one will probably be more content not tagging along.

    • Just leave. If you’re in a quiet setting like church or a movie, your first consideration should be the people around you. If your baby’s tears are causing a disturbance, don’t delay in getting up to leave. Find a private area to console or discipline your child. If you’re dealing with a toddler, teach her the appropriate behavior for that setting (“at church we need to be quiet and reverent”). Otherwise, your child may act up on purpose just to get out of the room. Be patient, too, and remember that a baby or young child can only sit still for so long.

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  • Keep in mind that with a baby, you must be flexible. Babies and young children require endless patience and understanding. Employ strategies to keep your little one content and accomplish your tasks, but remember that your baby's welfare always comes first.

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Megan Gladwell, a freelance writer and sometimes teacher, lives in beautiful Northern California with her husband and four children.

Website: http://www.bookclub41.blogspot.com

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