Parents and their crying babies have no place in restaurant environment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 April, 2011, 12:00am

As someone who enjoys dining out - and I mean I want to enjoy it - I am dismayed by many parents' insistence on taking their babies to restaurants where patrons intend to pay a premium for the quiet environment.

On one recent Sunday, while trying to enjoy a wine lunch at a restaurant in a five-star hotel, there was another pair of parents with their baby. Sure enough, the young one cried and the crying reverberated throughout the dining room. The parents seemed slightly embarrassed, and they couldn't enjoy the lunch - and neither could other diners around them. But at least they seemed to have shame.

Once in another hotel restaurant, a family brought along two babies that also cried throughout the meal. When I looked at them, the grandmother, I presume, looked back, seemingly trying to stand her ground and show that she saw nothing wrong in ruining everyone's lunch.

Babies are babies, and they cry. Restaurants are also not designed for them, as they need attention and stimulation and not sitting down watching others eat. If these parents can afford to pay close to HK$1,000 per head to eat out, they surely can afford to hire help to look after their babies while they visit restaurants. And if they do need to bring their babies along, there are many restaurants out there whose environments are livelier and where the crying may not be as much of a nuisance.

It boils down to being considerate - a value which, I am sure, these parents would want their children to learn when they grow up. But restaurants are responsible, too. Certain establishments simply should have a 'no baby' policy.

I can understand some of them might be reluctant to do so because they are afraid of offending customers. But what they must also understand is they are offending more customers by allowing babies in.

All it takes is one baby to cry to ruin a large number of diners' meals. I have certainly not gone back to a few restaurants where my last memory of them was trying to finish my food as quickly as possible before I went deaf.

L. K. Ho, Sai Ying Pun

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