Babies and Bars

The gang at The Week have rounded up a debate on the topic “Should babies be allowed in bars?

Put me down in the affirmative camp.

Katie enjoying a cold one in Columbia, SC March 2009

Katie enjoying a cold one in Columbia, SC March 2009

The tenor of the debate is amusing.

The Con side consists mostly of such insights as The day I “crack open a bottle of Jack Daniel’s at Gymboree is the day you should feel free to start bringing your screaming, drooling spawn to the bar” and Nobody who’s “drinking and sobbing about a bad breakup” want to compete against a sobbing baby.

The Pro side is a mixed bag, consisting of arguments like “parents tip very well” and “sitters are expensive” to more nuanced entries like this one:

I have a pretty simple formula: “kids + bar=no,” says Vivian Manning-Schaffel in Mom Logic. But “kids + bar/restaurants = yes, at least until 7 or 8 PM.” Rule of thumb: If at least half an establishment’s business comes from food, let the “breeders in.”

Which is pretty much where I am.  When we take Katie out with us to eat, regardless of whether it’s a bar-and-grill or a more traditional restaurant setting, we tend to do so in off hours.  And we’re of course conscious of others in the establishment and tend to her when she’s being fussy.  And she’s usually in bed by 8, so it’s not like we’re out with the bar crowd.  But the mere fact that the place serves alcohol isn’t a deterrent.

The most amusing response:

I get why “twentysomething, hipster bar dwellers” want to ban babies, says Tom Henderson in AOL’s ParentDish. Who wants to drink around “a bunch of crying, whining, sniveling, tantrum-throwing brats?” That’s why I say throw out the hipsters. “Babies are probably the least objectionable characters you’re going to encounter in a bar.”


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JKB says:

    Well if it is a restaurant with alcohol, then no problem but if it is a bar that serves food as required for a liquor license, then no. Their business is alcohol even though those places tend to have the best food.

    I once saw a couple with an infant refused service for breakfast in a Seattle pub. It was a pub but had started serving breakfast but their liquor license would not allow children, even infants, on the premise. I don’t think they actually served alcohol during the breakfast period.

  2. just me says:

    I think my opinion on whether a baby belongs in a bar or not depends a lot on the type of bar and whether the baby is content and happy or cranky and fussy. A cranky, fussy baby needs to be at home, not in a bar, and a bar filled with smoke or really loud music (like a dance club) probably aren’t the best places to take a baby. But a sports bar and a happy, content baby seem fine to me.

  3. Janis Gore says:

    Back when I first began drinking, and got put out of the Stoneleigh P in Dallas one night for being underage, it was a hip afternoon place to go, have a beer and a cheeseburger, read a magazine, and the young’uns were rife. Circa 1975.

    The yuppies blew it away. And I mean Yuppies — 1986 or so.

  4. Triumph says:

    Avoiding this conundrum is exactly why we host exchange students.

    We basically make the exchange student take care of the kids so we can go out and get hammered.

    It works pretty well–we had one kid who objected to being our baabysitter, but ever since then we hold on to their passports while they are staying with us. With this new system in place, the exchange students do what we tell them. It’s great!

  5. sam says:

    Caption for pix:

    Katie: Dammit, more ice! More ice!

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    Someone’s gotta drink the Budweiser. Surely you don’t expect any adult will.

  7. William d'Inger says:

    Hmm, I never gave it any thought. The signs say “No one under 21 allowed”. I’ve always presumed they meant it. Now that I’m asked to think about it, I’ll fall back on my general rule where the most important thing in life should be parental discretion over government intrusion.

  8. Dutchgirl says:

    According to a reliable source, bringing babies to Hooters is the best way to get attention from the waitresses. I say let parents decide for themselves and their baby. It is the rare parent who will let their child cry and wail for long in a restaurant/bar anyway.

  9. The answer in England isn’t no, but Hell No!

  10. floyd says:

    “”I get why “twentysomething, hipster bar dwellers” want to ban babies,””
    Maybe this is the group that needs the babies around … just to remind them of the possible consequences of trolling for companionship while consuming adult beverages! [lol]

  11. Ben says:

    It is the rare parent who will let their child cry and wail for long in a restaurant/bar anyway.

    Man, we come from two different worlds. I very rarely see parents give a crap when their screaming infant is disrupting some public establishment. They’re so numb to it, they assume everyone else is, too.

  12. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Caption for pix:

    Joyner and Reynolds enjoying a cold one after a hard day of typing?

  13. Shari on the west coast says:

    My dad would take me to the Annex in Long Beach (back when the L.A. Rams trained there), sit me on the bar, feed me the cheddar cheese popcorn while he got to visit with his buds. Left me with warm memories to tell my kids (which I never took to a bar).

  14. Have a Nice G.A. says:

    What, no best caption of the year award? Not even an Oscar or a measly Noble peace prize?