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With wedding season just around the corner, many new parents will be deciding whether or not to bring their little ones to their friends' big days – that's if they're on the invite list of course!
New research from The Baby Show has revealed that nearly two-thirds of Brits (66%) believe that children ruin the fun at weddings for their parents, arguing they should be completely child-free events. A quarter (23%) say they have felt irritated when a baby has started crying during a wedding ceremony and 19% believe that babies should never be invited at all! However, lots of new parents disagree; a quarter (27%) said they would be bitterly offended if they were invited to a wedding without their baby while one in five (19%) said they would decline a wedding invite if their baby wasn't on the list.
Meanwhile, 18% said they have been to weddings with their children even though their babies weren't invited! Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, baby and parenting expert at The Baby Show says: “Weddings are a time of celebration and also of unbelievable stress so, with that heady mix of excitement and anxiety, it is understandable that tensions can come to a head when the invites go out. For most parents, the idea of leaving a baby behind is unthinkable; whilst it seems that, for a massive 66%, the idea of a baby crying during one of the most precious moments of their life is equally unthinkable so it's important to find a compromise.”
Of those asked, 75% of new and expectant parents said they felt comfortable leaving their baby with a baby sitter while they went to a wedding, while 15% said they felt the couple getting married should be responsible for organising a creche for the children attending.
Rachel has shared her advice on what you should do if you plan to bring your baby to a wedding:
Before you react to the “No babies” clause in an invite, get the full facts. Many couples are quite happy for a baby to join the post-ceremony reception and party but just worry about disturbances during the actual ceremony itself. So, ask the questions politely and in a spirit of friendly enquiry rather than with indignant fury. Try saying: “So that I can make my plans and ensure you have a great day, can you just clarify for me whether you want just the ceremony to be baby-free, the ceremony and reception, or the whole day including the party?”
2. Plan Ahead.
Now you know the facts you can plan. Babies under about 6 months struggle to stay with anyone other than parents for more than half an hour so, if your baby is little, consider asking a grandparent to walk your little one around the park during the ceremony and then handing baby back to you for a good cuddle and feed somewhere private (use your fact-finding mission to get details of a warm room at the venue where babies can be fed and changed). Rinse and repeat until you can be finally reunited with your little one for the rest of the day. Older babies will certainly grumble when left but they will cope for some hours as long as they are with someone they know well. Make sure that your trusted adult knows your baby's routine and is staying close enough to the venue (consider booking a family suite at the venue if there is accommodation) that you can be called to the rescue if needed.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, don't bother trying to “get baby used to a bottle” beforehand. It rarely works and just increases anxiety in the lead-up to the big day. Simply express some milk the night before the wedding and leave it with your baby sitter. Your little one really will take a bottle if they get thirsty enough. Grandparents are great at non-boob soothing techniques so will happily walk and jiggle and pat your fractious baby until they are really ready to drink. Often, they never take the bottle because they never get that thirsty, and then they have a mega-breastfeed hours later when you come back! If you are bottle-feeding your baby, make sure your baby sitter knows how to make up a feed safely and also knows that your baby doesn't need milk every time they cry - mostly they simply want some high-intensity soothing. You really don't want a windy, overfed baby to deal with the night after the wedding.
4. Be Sensitive.
Be sensitive to the needs of the wedding couple if your baby is invited to later parts of the day. As much as you want to hear the speeches, it is simply miserable for everyone if the best man's speech is highjacked by a crying baby. A breastfed baby can simply disappear under mum's blouse the minute they kick off - even if they are not hungry, they will generally pop onto the boob for a welcome suckle and snuggle. A bottle-fed baby needs a dummy and a cuddle if a feed isn't due and, however you feed your baby, if they won't quieten, take them out of the room fast. Have plenty of toys at hand and a comfy pushchair for quick walking naps. Be a good guest!
5. Be prepared to turn the invite down...
If you look at all the options and decide that you and your baby are going to find it all too much, try to plan a babysitter for during the ceremony and then go home. It's a shame but it isn't the end of the world. Be grown-up about it - don't make the wedding couple feel guilty, and maybe arrange for a great dinner party at your house after their honeymoon so that you can enjoy hearing about the big day whilst your baby is safely asleep in their crib or snuggled in your arms!
The Baby Show, with MadeForMums, will take place at the Birmingham NEC from Friday 17th until Sunday 19th May.
The advanced ticket price is £14.70pp* on Friday and £15.70pp* for either the Saturday or Sunday, while on-the-door tickets cost £20pp.
For more information visit www.thebabyshow.co.uk/nec
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