Reasonable Risk or Terrible Parenting Idea?
October 20, 2016 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Can we go to a Halloween party at the house right next door with the 10-month-old baby asleep in our house with the alarm on and baby monitor in our hands?

We've already checked to make sure the baby monitor works in the neighbor's house. There are parts of their house that are closer to the baby's room than parts of our house. On the one hand this seems reasonable, as we'll only be there for an hour or so. On the other hand, what the hell are we thinking leaving the baby alone in the house at all!
posted by bluejayway to Health & Fitness (80 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
sure. I mean how is this different than being deeply asleep in the room next door?
posted by H. Roark at 11:15 AM on October 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yes. Yes you can.

When my son was about that age my wife and I were vacationing at a lake and we would walk down the hill from the cottage, hang the baby monitor in a tree just at the edge of its range, and go swimming at night.

Obviously do a safety check first. No lit candles or unleashed ocelots in the house. Stuff like that.
posted by bondcliff at 11:17 AM on October 20, 2016 [56 favorites]


I see people doing this all the time, especially with Internet-connected video baby monitors and smartphones. It may technically be illegal but I don't see how it is unsafe.
posted by miyabo at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2016


No. Not a good idea. Get a baby sitter. It's also probably illegal.
posted by HuronBob at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes, we use a video monitor and have done this several times during deck parties at our neighbors' houses. Works a treat.
posted by anderjen at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, I have used FaceTime too. We stayed in a guest house and they (boomers) were pretty shocked we were hooking up a monitor at all. Parenting from this generation has some pretty crazy expectations. It was a fun party in the main house.
Anxiety is real and only do what you are comfortable with! I think you are good to go.
posted by ibakecake at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would do it (hire a babysitter to go next door? preposterous) and not tell anyone at the party I was doing it, lest somebody feels the need to play "savior".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2016 [44 favorites]


For an hour? Next door? I give you my permission.
If anyone asks, though, I would pretend I had a sitter so you don't get guilted out.
posted by rmless at 11:28 AM on October 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


Also, I will share my reasoning for this and future events:
If you can get back to your baby from the party next door in a similar amount of time as it would take you to get to the baby's room if you were on the toilet, then it is fine.
I shall call this "reasonable poop response time."
posted by rmless at 11:33 AM on October 20, 2016 [130 favorites]


On the other hand, what the hell are we thinking leaving the baby alone in the house at all!

Just imagine you have a really big house. Make sure you wear a halloween costume you can sprint in if neccessary!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:35 AM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Not a parent, so really, my opinion doesn't matter, but I'd personally have no problems with it. Have fun!

My only issue is the flaw in your logic: "there are parts of their house that are closer to the baby's room than parts of our house.". While that may technically be true, it's not about how the crow flies, its how the human runs! Unless you're planning on crashing though walls, your house is still always going to be faster regardless of how big it is.
posted by cgg at 11:36 AM on October 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Personally, I would absolutely not do this, even with a baby monitor, even if "next door" was an apartment with a shared wall. I don't really have a good rebuttal for everyone who says it's okay, but I'd be too uncomfortable doing it to enjoy the party, and I'd feel kind of weird if I threw a party and found out that one of my guests was doing it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


@cgg: Fair point. I merely brought it up to indicate that houses in our neighborhood are pretty shoulder-to-shoulder rather than the vast expanses between neighbors some neighborhoods feature.
posted by bluejayway at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm a mom who never, ever would have done this back when my kid was that age. And I think you should definitely do it. It's natural for us all to be super, duper protective when our kids are littler, but this seems like the very definition of a reasonable risk. (I only have 1 kid but I know that if I'd had another baby the second would have had much less of my hovering over him/her.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:42 AM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wow this is literally exactly something I saw go down a few years back at a Halloween party in DC. This was before I was a parent. I was appalled. Other people were appalled. We joked about it (WTF is that baby doing here?). Now as a parent, I'd be less appalled but still kind of nonplussed (of course it didn't help that after an hour or so the monitor was sitting there unattended on a speaker with a baby sleeping on screen). I wouldn't ever do it for any period of time with either of my kids or both of them because the older one would be scared if she couldn't find us within a minute, and I'd especially be worried about wandering away from the monitor if I was drinking, but it's your call and only God can judge you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Plus, you have two people! One person goes, the other one watches tv in their costume, then you switch, right? Seems like a decent solution.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm assuming you and your partner aren't sleeping in shifts to monitor the baby? Really how is the risk any higher than when you are sleeping? It's not. I'd have no problem at all doing this.
posted by Mitheral at 11:46 AM on October 20, 2016 [29 favorites]


Personally, as a mom, I'm not able to enjoy myself if I'm in a spot where I wouldn't be able to hear my baby's cries (without a monitor). Monitors are NOT very reliable at all in my experience.
So, I'd do a BBQ outside next door with window cracked (so I can hear her); party indoors next door: no. Maybe the new video monitors are more reliable? I'd just be sitting there staring at the monitor, though. (Plus, likely illegal to leave an infant alone.)
posted by The Toad at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Father of two I would absolutely do this.

Do you not take the trash out with the monitor? Do you not do laundry? Do you sleep in shifts?

The reason not to is amorphous anxiety. BUT that's a thing, and if it's making you feel bad, it's a thing you'll need to respect if it's gonna ruin your time over there anyway.
posted by French Fry at 11:50 AM on October 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Baby is in a crib,I assume, so no wandering.

I would totally do this. It's not any different from the house we lived in when our kid was a baby where the TV room was in the basement, the nursery on the second floor, and you definitely could not hear a crying baby without the help of a monitor. So we had a video monitor that was, if anything, a little too sensitive (it would vibrate if it picked up any noise, even if the volume was also turned up). Or when we used to visit my in-law's mcmansion and there were tons of places in the house where you could not hear the baby crying. Again: vibrating video monitor.

But I'm definitely in the non-anxious end of the parenting spectrum (which is weird because I'm hella anxious about so many other things).
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:52 AM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would not do this; it crosses a certain line for me. I would instead trade off shifts with your partner: you get to go enjoy the party for a while, then you come home and your partner gets to go enjoy the party. Everybody wins.
posted by Liesl at 11:59 AM on October 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


I don't know -- maybe it's because I remember the story of an apartment fire in Fairfield, California where two moms were talking in the parking lot when the apartment caught fire and four kids died, but I'd vote no. There were contributing factors (lit candle), but the point is, they could not get back fast enough to save the kids. And sure, I guess an electrical fire could just as easily break out while you are in the same room as when you are next door at a party, but one of those scenarios is not going to end in criminal neglect charges and the front page of the paper for a year and a half.
posted by sageleaf at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


I vote don't do this. Monitors flake out all the time and if you're into a few beers you wouldn't notice. There are so many years to come when you can chill out and experiment with relaxed parenting, but 10 months...
posted by Coda Tronca at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Seconding Potomac Avenue. This is an issue so easily sidestepped. Take turns and relax.

I'm assuming you and your partner aren't sleeping in shifts to monitor the baby? Really how is the risk any higher than when you are sleeping? It's not. I'd have no problem at all doing this.

If being out of the house was the same kind of risk as sleeping in the house, you could leave the baby alone six hours a day.
posted by ignignokt at 12:11 PM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Pretty soon the kid is going to climbing out of the crib and wandering the dales with a knife. Do it while it's still possible.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:17 PM on October 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


As you can see, there are tons of opinions to that question. You WILL be judged by others if they hear about it. But in terms of safety I'm on the camp of folks who say - go ahead and do it. The risk is minimal (remember - there will always be stories of worst cases. There are stories of kids running into the street when you take your eyes off of them for 2 seconds. What are you supposed to do - literally never take your eyes off of your kids ever? Well...okay...maybe not near a busy street) and I as a parent would definitely do this.

With a few caveats which only you can answer: how are you at parties? Can you stop at one or a few drinks? Are you aware of time and will return in time as opposed to be engrossed in conversations and before you know it it's 1am?
posted by 7life at 12:22 PM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Other guests will be appalled, they'll know because you have the monitor with you.

You won't really know everyone who is at the party and someone might report you to the police, or someone weird and drunk will know your baby is not being watched by anyone in your home and might get a Bad Idea to do something...

I hate to be paranoid. But it would be difficult to enjoy with worse case scenarios running through my mind.
posted by jbenben at 12:23 PM on October 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't do this. Too many downsides:
- As others have mentioned, some problems you might only notice if you were in the house (fire, burglary, gas leak, etc). They are not likely to happen but could be tragic if they did.
- This situation is going to make some folks uncomfortable if they learn of it at the party (how do you covertly check a baby monitor?).
- Lying to neighbors or friends at a party is not ideal, and around here you'd be hard pressed to invent a babysitter (everybody wants to know the names of babysitters, etc).
- It might be hard to enjoy yourself if you're conflicted (which it sounds like you are).
I'd stay home, pop some popcorn and watch some great scary movies instead! Send one of you over next door to the party for just a few minutes to be neighborly.
posted by machinecraig at 12:26 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


If I were another partygoer, I wouldn't be at all upset with you doing this. I'd think it was pretty smart, actually. Opinions obviously vary but I wanted to chime in with my "other guest" perspective.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:36 PM on October 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


I don't think it's unreasonable. I wouldn't do it, though. It just tingles my spidey sense as a bad idea. But that's me. I don't think it's a terrible idea, I just don't think it's a good one.
posted by Aquifer at 12:38 PM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's illegal to leave a child under 14 years old alone in a house. Even with all that you listed as precautions, I wouldn't do it. Either bring the kid with and put him/her in quiet room or get a sitter (or just don't go).
posted by stormpooper at 12:45 PM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's illegal to leave a child under 14 years old alone in a house.

Not true, and varies widely from state to state, if they even specify an exact age at all.
posted by anderjen at 12:48 PM on October 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


I wouldn't be worried about the baby. Instead, I'd be worried about someone calling the cops or CPS. People overestimate the risk associated with leaving children unattended, and I can see someone at that party getting outraged that your baby is alone over at your house, regardless of how low risk it would be.

It's better to just take shifts going over there.
posted by vivzan at 12:49 PM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


We've done it, and will probably do it again (though kids are slightly older now 1&3). As long as you're monitoring, I don't see what the big deal is. You can even walk over every 30 min just in case.
posted by pyro979 at 12:53 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would be worried about a busybody at the party calling CPS on you if they found out the baby was alone in the house.
posted by phatkitten at 1:06 PM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I assumed baby monitor was just an audio based thing, because that's the kind I'm aware of. I can totally picture party guests asking "Where's babybluejay?" "S/he's asleep.", implying a in a basket in another room of your friend's house. I think the risks here are reasonable but I woukd suggest at least one of you stay pretty sober.
posted by Cheese Monster at 1:11 PM on October 20, 2016


I've done a version of this many times, with baby asleep in one hotel room and my husband and I enjoying conversation with other adults in another hotel room across the hall. I've also been known to sit outside, many dozens of feet from my house, and have a glass of iced tea in the hammock while my toddler son was sleeping inside. Then (ten years ago) we only had a radio monitor. Tech marches on, people.

I'm appalled at all the people here who would say they're appalled. "There could be a gas leak?" Really? Really??

The people who are saying "do it in shifts' miss the point. When you are the parent of an infant, you do pretty much everything in shifts. Someone is on baby duty and someone is asleep, or taking a shower, or eating. Its very hard to spend time awake and together.

Check your local laws to make sure that its not actually illegal.

Don't drink any alcoholic beverages. Don't leave candles burning in the house, don't leave the stove on. Maybe use a Bluetooth headset to listen to the monitor right in your ear so you don't have to keep looking at it/so party noise doesn't drown it out.

Babies don't need you to come running in the moment they start to fuss in their sleep (and I'm an attachment mom who still co-sleeps).

Go and enjoy spending some time at a party together.
posted by anastasiav at 1:15 PM on October 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


My daughter was a notoriously bad sleeper and if she missed ANY part of her afternoon nap, there was NO GETTING HER TO SLEEP AT NIGHT NO WAY NO HOW. And she would NOT sleep anywhere except her crib (not in the car seat, not in the pack n play, not in a different crib...it was HARD). It was awful because my son's preschool ended right smack dab in the middle of her nap four days per week. I couldn't get a sitter for the 15 minutes it would take to drive to school, wait in the car line, and drive back, so I asked a neighbor to come and sit in the house for me while I picked up my son.

The neighbor (a veteran mom of six) happily did this for me for a couple weeks and then suggested that I just give her the monitor so she could stay at her home and keep getting stuff done there. It worked great. There were a couple times when the baby woke suddenly and my neighbor was able to get to her faster than I could have if I had been in my own basement or in the backyard.

It's only an hour. It's okay to want to spend an hour at a grown up party with your partner while your kiddo sleeps basically in the next room. I think you're responsible enough to make sure there aren't any unusual hazards during the time (no candles, make sure your stove/iron/etc. is off, probably wouldn't drink anything if I were you) and I, as a fellow parent of one official adult (he's almost 20!) and one super awesome teenager, give you permission to do this guilt free.
posted by cooker girl at 1:19 PM on October 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm appalled at all the people here who would say they're appalled. "There could be a gas leak?" Really? Really??

Two years ago I was woken by fire fighters because of this in the next door flat. You may as well cut out all the things you can control when your baby is 10 months, because they'll be plenty of things you can't.
posted by Coda Tronca at 1:20 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh one thing that would give me pause: is baby pulling up to stand? If no, is s/he close to pulling up? That would be the deal breaker for me. Babies can go from pulling up to climbing over their crib rails in about zero seconds flat. Unless you have one of those crib tent things....
posted by cooker girl at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not a parent, so I have nothing of value to contribute in terms of whether or not this constitutes "terrible" parenting.

I am, however, a party-goer. I can say with absolute certainty that if I were a guest at that party with you and somehow learned that you'd left your 10-month-old baby safely asleep in a crib and appropriately monitored with modern technology that remained in the hands of a sober adult at all times, I would be the opposite of appalled.
posted by jesourie at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


I wouldn't do it! The reason kids are not supposed to be left unattended is so that someone can get them OUT of the house in case of fire, etc. You're also totally relying on the baby monitor, which only monitors what's happening with the baby, instead of being able to see and hear what is going on in the house. If anything did happen inside the house, you'd be delayed in sensing it, and in getting to the baby. There were parents who were arrested for doing something similar in DC recently (although arguably worse because they left the kids in the car.)

Just get a babysitter. When people talk about the problem with parenting being "all work and no joy," the solution is to find real solutions, like babysitters or taking shifts. Not baby monitors.
posted by yarly at 1:32 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


the solution is to find real solutions, like babysitters or taking shifts. Not baby monitors.

I'm sorry - wouldn't a babysitter just sit downstairs watching TV and keep an eye on the baby via the baby monitor?
posted by anastasiav at 1:35 PM on October 20, 2016 [38 favorites]


The risk is less that something could happen to the baby, and more that something might happen to you that may impede you getting back quickly. However, since there's two of you, this is then much less of a risk.

That said, I've done this, kinda. We had family coming, I had to pick them up at the airport (no I didn't go to the airport with a sleeping baby alone at home!!!), and my car had a ton of stuff in it that I had to clean out.

The kiddo sleeps in a crib and isn't mobile yet. We have a Canary which is a WiFi security camera that sends activity alerts to your phone if you're not watching the video feed. We live on the fourth floor of a large apartment complex, and I took my phone down to the garage (about a 4-5 min walk and wait for the elevator) to clean my car with the baby asleep. Granted, I was hustling to get the car cleaned quickly, and supremely uneasy the whole time. The phone was propped up on the dash and the volume turned up high so I could see and hear everything. You won't be able to do this at the party.

So, technically, you could do this and it would be ethically fine, but you might be uneasy/ stressed out about it and not able to enjoy the party.
posted by Everydayville at 1:36 PM on October 20, 2016


I'm sorry - wouldn't a babysitter just sit downstairs watching TV and keep an eye on the baby via the baby monitor?
posted by anastasiav at 1:35 PM on October 20 [+] [!]


The point is, you're monitoring what's going on *in the house* from inside the house, like a fire, gas leak, intruder, etc, and you are in the house to get the baby out of the house if need be.
posted by yarly at 1:38 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm appalled at all the people here who would say they're appalled

Seconded.
But who knows some of these people might be at this party, apparently there are a lot of them, seems like they'd make that party no-fun for you.
posted by French Fry at 1:58 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a chill non-judgey let-people-parent non-parent person and friends of mine have done this in a hotel: baby monitor on while we played a card game in a place within range. It was totally fine. The baby was fine. I thought nothing of it. What is a baby going to do? The house next door is probably practically as close as many rooms in your house are. It's not like you're always in the same room as your child, right?
posted by urbanlenny at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Totally fine. Have fun! I'd think smoke and CO alarms would sound on the monitor.
posted by michaelh at 2:01 PM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I can't really articulate any good reason NOT to do this, except that I absolutely would not do this. I know it's unreasonable, but I just think of Madeleine McCann. But I would not judge you at all if I were at the party -- your reasoning makes a lot of sense!
posted by heavenknows at 2:02 PM on October 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Re: appalled...

Just reporting what I experience as a mom - people are judgey and I've had people eye-roll to me about other parent's choices over things far less significant than a situation like this - they think I must be reasonable like them since I'm a "good" mom.

OP, What if someone Instagrammed or FB'd (or whatever) pics of you and your spouse laughing it up with you baby monitor at a party? If there is a significant social media uproar, authorities will likely get involved.

I don't think you are bad people to consider this, but I don't think it's worth it for a Halloween party where things tend to be a bit livelier than other get-togethers.
posted by jbenben at 2:09 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know my parents did this when my brother was a baby. Nothing bad happened. I know people brought baby monitors to grad student parties at my parents' house. Nothing bad happened. I think it's a perfectly reasonable, not particularly risky thing to do and you should not feel guilty about it, or about considering it.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:15 PM on October 20, 2016


This is definitely anecdote, but. I am a pathologist. I work in a lab, I don't do autopsies any more, but I had to do them as a resident. And when I was eight months pregnant on my forensics rotation there was this exact situation. Some parents had left their sleeping baby and gone next door with a baby monitor and there was an electrical short in the room the baby was in and the bedding caught fire. I'm sure people leave their children like this all the time and I'm sure it's fine, but this time, it wasn't. One of the forensics fellows at the time turned to me and made me swear that I would never ever leave my child like that, and I never have. I'm tearing up now thinking about it; I can still picture that tiny body in his little jammies. They had giraffes on. So, sorry, but no.
posted by Missense Mutation at 2:26 PM on October 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


It is hard being parents of a young child. Such responsibility. So much worry. You deserve this small outing together, and you should go and enjoy it. Nothing bad is at all likely to happen to your baby while you are next door. Go have a little fun.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:37 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would totally do this, but as the comments above suggest, you're going to see a lot of different, strong opinions about this.

Consciously or not, we divvy the entire world up into acceptable risks and unacceptable risks. For most people, driving a car with their kid in a carseat is an acceptable risk. Driving their car while strapping their kid to the roof is an unacceptable risk. And so on.

I see this scenario - you're next door with a baby monitor rather than in the house with a baby monitor - as an acceptable risk. Is it riskier than being in the next room? Sure. Is it riskier than hiring a babysitter? I suppose it depends on the babysitter. I don't expect there are any statistics out there, but my guess is that doing this would be statistically safer than going for a drive with your kid in a car seat. I've certainly spent long nights in my backyard, where I can't hear my infant, with a monitor next to me, and I've felt fine about it. I've also spent time next door with a monitor and felt fine about it.

In your question, you seem a little torn about the issue, but I'm not sure if your "what the hell" addition is you speaking, or you channeling the voices of those you expect would criticize you for the decision. I do think you should personally be comfortable with the risks you expose your child to. And if you're comfortable with this risk (as I would be), then I say go for it. I pay very little attention to others' hypothetical fears about my child's safety, so long as I feel like I've adequately considered the risks. So if I were in your shoes, I wouldn't pay much attention to the naysayers. If catching flak from the naysayers gives you anxiety though, it may be worth taking turns with your partner or getting a babysitter.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:42 PM on October 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


So, I once left my sleeping daughter home alone around 1 am-ish. The reason was that my partner (now ex) had a minor emergency. I got in the car, drove about 10 mins away, helped him, and drove back home. Daughter was fine. I can't remember how old she was, but she was definitely a toddler, could walk, could get out of her bed. We got home and she was still asleep. I was sure to lock the door (we lived in a very safe condo that had security guards) before I left. I had no baby monitor, and even if I did, it wouldn't work within that range. The next day I told a friend about this and said "don't call CAS on me." :D

Basically it's a calculated risk. Writing about it now, I think, was I crazy? Why couldn't (ex)-partner deal with his thing on his own? But at the time I figured she'd stay asleep and it'd be ok. And that's what happened.

So for you, I'd ask, what's the risk of something happening to the house? (e.g. fire, intruder) What's the risk of your baby waking up and trying to get out of bed and hurting herself? What's the risk of people being judgey of you and posting you partying on social media and getting reamed out/having authorities being called on you? What's the risk of your baby monitor failing 30 mins into the party? Etc.
posted by foxjacket at 2:51 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also very few states actually have laws indicating a specific age that leaving a child in your home is actually a "crime". Most states use the phrase "adequate supervision" and in general baby monitors within recommended range qualify as such.
posted by French Fry at 3:04 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh my gosh I am appalled anyone would be appalled at this. I'm a parent. I've done this. There are plenty of OH MY GOD BUT WHAT IFs but there are with any decision you make and you simply have to weigh for yourself that possible risk.

Would love to know what people think parents do when they're solo or single parenting, the kid is asleep for the night, and the dog has to go outside to pee...?
posted by olinerd at 3:24 PM on October 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't, because it's probably illegal, and if you or your partner stay home, there's no way for you to regret going to a party and missing a potential emergency in your house.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:56 PM on October 20, 2016


I have a 2 year old and another on the way, and I personally wouldn't do it and wouldn't have done it at 10 months. I am a naturally anxious and what-if-y person though. I think, even if I'm in the middle of pooping, if something is really wrong I can waddle down the hall and be there in seconds. If I'm in the basement doing laundry I can run up two flights or stairs pretty damn quick. Having to come from next door makes it 1-2 minutes at least. And knowing that would mean I wouldn't enjoy the party. I'd be sitting by the front door staring at the monitor.

That being said, if I saw another parent doing it I might raise my eyebrows but nothing more. At least partly out of jealousy!
posted by tealcake at 5:09 PM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't, myself, because I would doubt my ability to simultaneously hear something surprising on the monitor and actively socialize in a room full of people doing the same. At home I have the monitor and parent spidey sense (aka hearing things the lo-fi monitor/speaker might not do a great job with).

Quick run to the laundry in the basement I'd do. Hang out at a party I wouldn't.
posted by zippy at 5:27 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't have kids, but I'm thinking, is the potential risk worth the potential enjoyment? Between CPS callers and the pathologist's story and just plain having to worry about the monitor going off and the guilt if something does go wrong...I suspect it's probably not worth trying.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:31 PM on October 20, 2016


I don't have kids, so I don't know if I would do the same, but I certainly would not judge you for this as a fellow partygoer. It sounds like a choice that could reasonably fall under acceptable risk, particularly if you have taken the time and effort to eliminate obvious concerns, like no lit candles, stove off, etc.

I assume you know your house and kid best, and if the house isn't a death trap and your kid is likely to stay asleep rather than wake up and attempt to injure themselves somehow, monitoring them for an hour next door just doesn't strike me as a big deal, but again, I don't have kids, so I probably have no idea what I'm talking about.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:46 PM on October 20, 2016


My guess is that if you're conflicted and worried people are going to be judging you, you won't really be able to enjoy the party. I don't think it's really a safety risk, but I probably wouldn't do it for that reason.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:38 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Driving with your baby in the car is much more dangerous than this.
posted by Automocar at 7:47 PM on October 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is actually an ideal situation for a first time teenage babysitter, even a 12 year old or so. This could be a great opportunity to invest in someone who can look after Baby Blue Jay once the both of them a bit older, with the comfort of them (and their parents!) knowing you are literally just over the fence. That way you can stay a few more hours, not have to fuck about with the monitor and relax a bit.
posted by Jilder at 7:56 PM on October 20, 2016 [20 favorites]


Both of my parents were the youngest in families with 6-8 children and thought it was ok to entrust baby sister to me for short periods that sometimes turned into stressful clock-watching. I could do everything. I'd been watching. Sis only bit the end of the thermometer off once.

Only one sibling in each family had died and even little me was struck by the fact that they had identical gravestones, curled lamb atop, 900 miles apart. And the stories didn't agree.

I'd asked for a brother for xmas but sister was cool and I gave her a square of baking chocolate that had quick results and I struggled to cover up the evidence with an identical onesie and washed her and succeeded and nobody ever knew the source of the subsequent diarrhea and I'd pulled that one off.

So leaving baby alone is better than leaving her with toddler me but just don't do that. Sister started flipping out of her crib all by herself and we shared the tiny second bedroom and co-sleeping was not a word back then but it was what I did to stop that because you never want to hear that thunk IRL or over a monitor and suddenly intuit what that sound could only mean. I'd wait until the door was closed and I could stand on the edge of my bed and haul her ass up and over and across and into my bed and she'd produce so much heat and her dark curls would be plastered to her forehead and I'd wake up if she moved a centimeter. Good training.

I never left the house when my son was asleep and it wasn't enough to prevent crib-flip thunk but I was one room away and he'd landed right on his padded arse and not hit his head on the changing table and was looking a bit surprised and that was the end of the crib. He couldn't even walk but he'd managed that so we started keeping him close and just dealt with it. He was pretty chill at parties and got more so if we kept him up late.

I still wonder about the motivations of my parents, who were often intelligent.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:58 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would totally not do this. In terms of your baby hanging out in the crib alone I think they would be perfectly fine, but there are things that could happen in the house that you wouldn't sense because you'd be next door (fire/burglary) and ...no.

There was an interesting article recently about perceived danger and parenting. People judge the danger of any given parenting risk much more harshly the more fun/optional/racy the activity is.

"The less morally acceptable a parent’s reason for leaving a child alone, the more danger people think the child is in,” the study’s authors write.

So maybe we'd have a different response if you were going to be doing farm work outside or something else puritans like, rather than going to a party (!!!). But this puritan's answer is still no :)
posted by hungrytiger at 9:35 PM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you are rich and white, and your child is also white, I might consider it. If you are poor and/or anyone in your family is a POC, I would not do it. Solely because, totally outside of any risk of physical harm to your child, if police/child protective services found out, people in the latter group are facing months or years of seeing their kids only in supervised court-ordered visitation if a police officer or a busybody finds out what you're doing. A rich white family doing this in a rich white neighborhood would likely, at most, get a few nights of having their baby in foster care followed by a stern reprimand never to do it again. That would be my biggest worry about it. So I would only consider it if you are rich and white, and live in a neighborhood where almost everyone else is too.
posted by decathecting at 10:32 PM on October 20, 2016


i would totally do this and not worry. and i can be anxious. you have a monitor! you will probably be more actively monitoring your child than if you were in the same home! yes, your house could burn down (???) but if you were home sleeping and your house was on fire, you would probably not wake up anyways. if someone breaks in (at 10pm??? with a house with the lights on??? next to a fun party???) they will be going after your expensive teevee and not your soundly sleeping child. "you might get too drunk and forget to come home or lose the monitor or the monitor might break" are not going to be things that happen to you; if the monitor stops monitoring, you'll obviously go home.

it seems like people are fueling the fires of useless anxiety more than actually asking themselves "what are the real risks in this situation here?"

i think the question of who will be at the party is a decent one, and if anything, this ask demonstrates that people can be truly alarmist regarding a situation that is absolutely benign in terms of risk. so if you do this, maybe keep it quiet.
posted by andreapandrea at 10:46 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I like the third option: babysitter. Surely the $10 or $20 it would cost would be worth not having to worry about all of these issues. No judging, no constantly checking the monitor, you don't have to abstain from drinking, you can even stay longer if you arrange it with the babysitter. It's foolproof and cheap and has no repercussions. What's not to like?
posted by i feel possessed at 11:56 PM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow these comments are so much more "a super rare bad thing could happen (and then you would look bad)" and not "a super rare bad thing could happen (and it would be less safe)". You don't magically detect fires or gas leaks in other parts of houses just by being in those houses, this is literally why we have smoke detectors and CO detectors. There is almost no difference here from being asleep or being downstairs or being out back with guests at a party in your own house.
posted by Lady Li at 12:11 AM on October 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've been tempted to do this/similar but there are a couple things that have stopped me:

-I don't know the range of our monitor and how distance and the various building materials of our house and the next door neighbor's house impede the signal. The degree of distance and potential signal degradation would be a main influence for me. In our driveway/backyard or our neighbor's yard would feel less risky from a monitoring perspective
-In a class we took at the hospital this was touched on and the instructor said leaving your child at home was abandonment. The instructor tended to share facts and laws rather than opinions but I haven't checked the letter of the law
-To me, there's a significant difference in running out for a few minutes to do a task (like taking out trash or getting an item from the car) and leaving for a prolonged activity. Comparing going to a party with spending time in the yard or driveway for a handful of minutes seems like a false equivalency.

I'd hire a teenager who would be excited to sit on the couch and use our WiFi for an hour or so.
posted by toomanycurls at 12:20 AM on October 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not really about being able to hear the monitor and technically the party is closer than some parts of your house.

It's about leaving your kid without an adult in the house. It's just not a good idea.

Look, I raised three kids andI am not saying any of this is easy. Doing the laundry and using the toilet are false equivalencies, because you're still in the house with the kid.

I wouldn't do it and here's why: in the one-in-a-billion chance that something did happen, you would never forgive yourself for going to a party while you left the unattended baby at home. You would spend a very long time agonizing that you chose to go to that party. It's just.not.worth.it.

I'm a laid back parent who let their kids explore and walk everywhere and in a million years, I would never have left a 10 month old alone at home while I went to a party.

Get a sitter.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:17 AM on October 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


no no no no no no
get a sitter, take him with you, but do not leave the babe alone in the house
posted by james33 at 3:58 AM on October 21, 2016


I would not contemplate doing this, and am amazed that so many people would.

The likelihood of anything bad happening is very low, but a baby is so defenceless that the severity of outcome is so bad ^if something bad does happen^...just no.
posted by Salamander at 4:19 AM on October 21, 2016


I'm really into gardening, and when my kids were babies I'd put the baby monitor on and go work out in the yard for the duration of nap time. I don't think that this is any different. You deserve an outing, and the baby will be fine. In terms of bad things potentially happening, put it into perspective. It's probably more risky to drive to the store with your baby in the car. Still, you don't avoid driving, right? Just use common sense and watch the baby monitor.
posted by Ostara at 7:24 AM on October 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The likelihood of anything bad happening is very low, but a baby is so defenceless that the severity of outcome is so bad ^if something bad does happen^...just no.

A baby is also defenseless in a car crash or an airplane crash or a terrorist attack. Nevertheless, the odds of these happening are low enough that we see driving in a car or walking through a mall to be acceptable risks.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:30 AM on October 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Monitors are NOT very reliable at all in my experience.

Video monitors are awesome and we used ours all over the place for the first couple of years (sleeping in an upstairs room at a friends house, for example). If the video feed cut out you would know right away and can get closer to your house. I would say the risks are really low and it will in all likelihood be perfectly fine. However, I am somewhat swayed by yarly's argument that when you are only viewing the baby you aren't aware of other things that may be going wrong in the house, and given that I'm not sure you would be able to enjoy the party. Also agreed with others, do not let the other partygoers in on what you are doing because they will judge and/or call CPS or the police.

Maybe you guys could cut down on the time you spend there together, maybe half an hour or so, and each spend a little time on your own when you can truly relax and socialize while your partner is with the baby.
posted by JenMarie at 9:09 AM on October 21, 2016


This is actually an ideal situation for a first time teenage babysitter, even a 12 year old or so. This could be a great opportunity to invest in someone who can look after Baby Blue Jay once the both of them a bit older, with the comfort of them (and their parents!) knowing you are literally just over the fence. That way you can stay a few more hours, not have to fuck about with the monitor and relax a bit.

Seriously. This is the solution. It's win-win-win.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:13 AM on October 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


UPDATE: Thank you all for the many opinions and anecdotes. Mrs BJW and I read them all and, really, agreed with every single one of you. The giraffe pajamas were the kicker, though. Fortunately, there were a gaggle of relatives from out of town at loose ends that night, and they collectively watched Baby BJW while he slept blissfully in his crib. At the party, other neighbor parents with kids the same age (strapped to their bodies) told us that they probably would have left the baby at home with the monitor. Still, we are happy with our choice and thankful for all of your input. You are all the best answer.
posted by bluejayway at 8:48 AM on October 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


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