7 Tips for Parents Taking Their Baby to a Wedding
Have a wedding coming up, and your little one is attending too? Here's some advice
19 May 2019
A screaming baby at a wedding isn’t fun for anyone - parenting experts advise how to avoid any bother on the big day...
Wedding season is here, and for many parents, an invitation raises the thorny issue of whether to take their children along too – if they’re on the guest list.
Research from The Baby Show suggests nearly two-thirds of parents (66%) think children ruin weddings for their parents, arguing they should be completely child-free events. A quarter say they’ve felt irritated when a baby’s started crying during a ceremony, and 19% believe babies should never be invited at all. Yet 27% of new parents say they’d be offended if they were invited to a wedding without their baby, and one in five (19%) say they’d decline a wedding invite if baby couldn’t come too.
Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, a midwife and parenting consultant, says: “For most parents, the idea of leaving a baby behind is unthinkable; while 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.”
Here, Fitz-Desorgher, together with breastfeeding expert Clare Byam-Cook and baby sleep specialist Andrea Grace, share advice on what to do if you want to take your baby to a wedding…
1. Check the specifics
Before reacting to a ‘no children’ decree in a wedding invitation, get the full facts. Fitz-Desorgher says many couples are happy for children to join the post-ceremony reception, but worry about disturbances during the ceremony itself. So, ask politely if it’s just the ceremony that’s child-free, or the whole day.
2. Plan Ahead
For babies aged under six months, consider asking a grandparent or another trusted adult to walk them around outside during the ceremony, and then hand them back for a cuddle and feed afterwards. Older babies will grumble when left, but will cope for a few hours as long as they’re with someone they know well. “Make sure your trusted adult knows your baby’s routine and is staying close enough to the venue, so you can be called to the rescue if needed,” advises Fitz-Desorgher.
3. Pack lightly
Pack as little as possible, and leave things in the car or a room within easy reach. You’ll need a pram or car seat, but Grace advises: “Try not to take too much equipment, especially if you have to carry it around. You’ll need nappies, wipes, and one or two small toys or comforters.”
4. Get feeding sorted
If you’re breastfeeding, Fitz-Desorgher says new parents shouldn’t bother trying to get baby used to a bottle beforehand, warning: “It rarely works and just increases anxiety in the lead-up to the big day.” Instead, express some milk the night before the wedding and leave it with your babysitter. “Your little one really will take a bottle if they get thirsty enough,” explains Fitz-Desorgher. If bottle-feeding, make sure your babysitter knows how to make up a feed safely and understands baby doesn’t need milk every time they cry – mostly, they simply want soothing.
5. It’s fine to drink a little alcohol
It’s OK to drink a bit of booze if you’re breastfeeding, but do hold back, warns Byam-Cook “The best time to drink is immediately after a breastfeed, so your body has time to process it out of your breast milk before the next feed,” she says. “Make sure you’re properly hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day, too.”
6. Be sensitive
Speeches hijacked by crying babies are rarely a success. “A breastfed baby can simply disappear under mum’s blouse the minute they kick-off – even if they’re not hungry, they’ll generally pop onto the boob for a welcome suckle and snuggle,” says Fitz-Desorgher. A bottle-fed baby needs a dummy and a cuddle if a feed isn’t due. If baby won’t quieten, take them out of the room, and have plenty of toys handy and a comfy pushchair.
7. Be prepared to miss some of the day
If you look at the options and decide you and baby will find it all too much, try to plan a babysitter for during the ceremony and then go home.