Managing a baby at a wedding
January 24, 2014 4:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for tips for looking after a 8 month-10 month old baby at weddings?

So in the same year that we have a baby, three of our friends have decided to get married. Each of the receptions are a half hour or so from the hotels we are staying at, so putting the baby down for a while isn't going to be easy.

I imagine we will have started weaning at this point, but he will be mostly bottle fed. At the moment our baby has a fairly regular schedule: he eats, complains, gets changed, plays for an hour or so, then wants to sleep (and is very grumpy if he can't sleep). I imagine that'll be the case at the wedding although I know babies change a lot... We will certainly have the car seat with us, plus a supply of food for him and some toys.

I am looking for tips ideally from people who have had been in a similar position. I live in the UK, if that makes a difference.
posted by Cannon Fodder to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Our son is 2.5, and we went to a wedding nearly a year ago. A little older than yours, but I do sympathize.

If you can, sit near a door.

Be prepared for your kid to flip out and for one of you to have to leave at an awkward time. Decide ahead of time who is going to do that, so there's no awkwardness between you on top of the baby awkwardness.

If you are wearing fancy clothes, be sure you have plenty of burp cloths.

If it was me and my partner, we wouldn't really expect to be at the reception very long. We'd probably decide that the ceremony was the most important part to witness. And then we'd take turns bouncing the baby while we ate at the reception. Unless it's informal, in which case we wouldn't worry so much about it.

This is all preparing for the worst, of course. Sometimes it's unnecessary because your kid is having a chill, happy day. I know some kids who can sit through an adult meal from a very small age, but oh lord we did not have one of those kids.

Good luck!
posted by hought20 at 4:30 AM on January 24, 2014

Best answer: (Being in the UK will make a difference to the answers you'll get, if anything I've seen in other baby/wedding etiquette threads is anything to go by.)

Pretty much all of the weddings and receptions I've been to have had lots of babies around (including our own), and we took our kids to several in their first year. It's never been problematic.

Treat it as you would any other day trip, preparation-wise. As long as you've got all the baby-stuff he needs, you'll be fine. When you get there, find out if there's somewhere quiet you can nip off to if your baby needs a bit of time away from the excitement. Sit near the door where possible, as hought says - being able to make a subtle exit is quite handy.

Other people will make allowances; they'll be expecting you to have to leave quite early.
posted by pipeski at 4:34 AM on January 24, 2014

Do you both have to go to all of these weddings? Or short of that, can you decide ahead of time which person can just bail and go back to the hotel early? That way, the person who is closest to the couple can actually enjoy the wedding, rather than both of you being uptight.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:34 AM on January 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: How old is the baby now?

And when you say "weaning," I think you mean more that he'll have started solid foods rather than in the American sense of "ceasing to nurse/drinking formula?" My two at that age mostly ate the mushy stuff off our plates (well, at 10 months they were mostly eating what we eat cut into tiny bits).

At 8 - 10 months old, baby may be a crawler (or a walker, but for your sake I hope not!!!) So comfy shoes for the parents are probably a must. Also at that age they are far less able to sleep with distractions because STUFF IS HAPPENING AND I WILL NOT SLEEP BECAUSE LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF I WILL MISS! So if you don't want an overtired baby, I'd suggest watching his sleep cues and leaving before it's a problem. And by that I mean, before it's a problem for you and you have a baby who refuses to sleep at all because of being overtired.

I went to three weddings in the first year of my daughter's life ---- maybe four. The easiest one was at 4 months of age when she was in the sling. It got a tiny bit harder as she got older, but not enough that I wouldn't have gone (and I was in the wedding party in one of them and had her trailing after me when I got my make up and hair done and passed her off to my husband before the ceremony).

One thing I have found is there is no shortage of people willing to hold babies at weddings while the parents pop off for a dance or some cake or to get a plate of food. Take advantage of that. Most definitely.
posted by zizzle at 4:40 AM on January 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

In the US weddings I've gone to with baby in tow, there was always a children's room with a hired babysitter or two (paid for by the attending parents). Might be the church's Sunday school room, or a catering hall's bride's room. The sitter stays at the wedding and minds the littles, the parents can pop in and out through the event as needed for nursing or snuggles.

Can you talk to these to-be-wed friends and see if you can set something like this up?
posted by Andrhia at 4:43 AM on January 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

My son went to big family weddings at 2 and 4 months. Sure, there will be plenty of people avaliable to hold a baby, but my kid had terrible screaming meltdowns on both occasions because he was being passed around like a hot potato and got overstimulated. You know your kid, watch him like a hawk for signs that he's not enjoying himself anymore. If baby ain't happy ain't nobody happy.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:02 AM on January 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Get yourself a good baby carrier. Ring sling, ergo, or something similar. It's a way to contain the kid for a while if it's mobile and a way to let the kid hide from overstimulation and maybe take a nap for a while.
posted by chiababe at 5:31 AM on January 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have a plan for negotiating any meals at the reception. We took our baby (around that age) to a wedding and the most annoying thing was that one of us had to hold the baby the whole time. Since the courses were all served together it meant that we had to do a swap for every course and the person not holding the baby had to eat fast. Also, our kid was very wiggly and grabby and kept hauling on the neck of my dress, which had a scoop neck (not particularly low cut) resulting in some semi-indecent exposure. Asking the venue ahead of time if they had a high chair (it was not a restaurant, but was a place that serves a lot of meals) would probably have been smart.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:14 AM on January 24, 2014

Go in with the assumption that you will be taking turns missing the ceremony and reception. My son was 10 months old when Madamina got married, and he started getting shrieky and grabby about 2 seconds into the ceremony. All he wanted to do at that age was crawl and walk around holding our hands. Depending on the venue you might be able to manage this in a spot where you can hear and still allow free baby movement, but we ended up going outside. Likewise at the reception, my husband and I took turns going for a walk with him while the other mingled. I think he fell asleep in the baby carrier for a little while.

If I had it to do over again, I would have gone through the hassle of figuring out a sitter from out of town. If there are enough kids at the weddings, you may be able to chip in together and get one for all the kids on-site.

(And on a side note: if these are summer weddings, I'm guessing your child is 2-4 months old right now? Yes, they will be completely different at that point; I wouldn't make too many assumptions about what will work based on current information.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:35 AM on January 24, 2014

Are your friends okay with you bringing your baby to their weddings? Maybe it's a US thing or just a "my social group thing", but I would never think to bring a baby to a wedding unless the bride specifically offered (not a yes response to me asking if it was okay, but an unsolicited offer from them).
posted by cecic at 8:17 AM on January 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

what cecic says. it's my understanding that unless explicitly invited, babies aren't usually on the guest list.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 9:39 AM on January 24, 2014

Plan to leave much earlier than you would sans baby. There's a lot of stimulation and noise, and a baby that age cannot sleep through it. The dancing seems to start well after bedtime, so the last couple weddings we've been to (from baby age 9-16 months) we have had to leave right after dinner. It's kind of a bummer because the dancing is my favorite part of weddings, but that's how it goes.

My daughter was not walking at that age, but I babysat a 10-month-old at a wedding for one of the bridesmaids and spent the entire ceremony going up and down the hallway because the baby HAD TO WALK. Plan for one of you to miss the ceremony, so you won't be disappointed.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:41 AM on January 24, 2014

Are you being invited to the ceremony and afters or just afters? If at all possible I would restrict attendance to just the reception /afters.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2014

Best answer: What sort of weddings are we talking about here? My daughter attended three weddings in her first year - the Jewish wedding was outdoors in summer and there were many babies in attendance, the C of E wedding was in a church and there was also many babies in attendance but it was not as easy as we were indoors, and the entirely secular wedding had a few babies in a botanic garden setting in which all the babies sat in the back row and went in and out as necessary. Weddings to which the baby was not invited were 100% clear in the invitation about there being no children in attendance, so if you haven't got that message in the invitation I think you're all good (but do ask if you're unsure).

Otherwise, you just attend to the baby's needs as necessary and have an exit plan if your baby is fractious or teething or otherwise being a pain. You decide between your partner and yourself who is going to leave with the baby if needed, and who gets to stay (usually the parent closest to the couple).
posted by goo at 3:03 PM on January 24, 2014

Oh I forgot to say: the Jewish and secular weddings my daughter went to just included the kids as a natural part of the festivities, and the C of E wedding had a clown and special entertainment at the reception for the kiddies. This is why the type of wedding it is influences the way you attend as the parent of a baby.
posted by goo at 3:36 PM on January 24, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, those are helpful. I'm fairly sure the UK has less of a no-baby policy at weddings, but regardless, the baby has been specifically invited to all the weddings. We'll take turns and carry distractions.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:05 AM on January 26, 2014

If yours is not the only baby invivted, is it possible the bride has already considered this and arranged for someone to staff the nursery during the ceremony (if in a church)? If other family members or close friends will be there perhaps they know a reliable teen that can provide onsite babysitting during the reception.
posted by lilyfern at 6:50 AM on January 27, 2014

Response by poster: An update to this one:

The first wedding was quite fun, but we missed out on seeing friends who were only coming to the evening, and spent a considerable portion by ourselves with the baby in another room. The second wedding was in a city, it was miserable and wet and we had a miserable time. The third wedding we let my parents babysit and went on our own. I'd probably recommend the last...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:47 AM on August 8, 2014

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