So, we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday party season and many people may be in the position of having recently had a baby and staring down a handful of party invitations, wondering “Should I go? Am I comfortable with a sitter? Could I bring my baby?” This situation is one, admittedly infrequent, of those times I think babywearing is so darn brilliant. I believe it’s really important for new moms to be able to maintain some semblance of a social life, and if you typically enjoy attending a few normally grown-ups only parties this time of year, I don’t think that having an infant should necessarily stop you. With babywearing, you can carry a pre-walking baby, potentially throughout an entire evening, enjoying some adult conversation and fancy mini-quiches at the same time. (Maybe skip the hot spiced wine or cider and the fancy chocolate volcano dessert fountain.)
Tips for bringing baby to a party:
- If the party is at a person’s home, call up the host and tell them how much you appreciate the invite and that you’d like to come with your baby. “Hi! Thank you so much for inviting us to your party. I’m really looking forward to seeing you and having some grown-up conversation. Little Madison is already 6 weeks old, can you believe it? I’m planning to come with her in a baby carrier, she’ll probably sleep the whole time! I just wanted to tell you ahead of time and make sure that won’t be a problem.”
- If the party is at a public place, take your cues on whether bringing your baby is a good idea from the location. The party room of a restaurant you would dine at with children? For sure. A fancier restaurant, but still a private room? Yep. A bar or dance club? Maybe, maybe not. I would consider the likely noise level (loud music and very loud conversation will startle baby and could harm his ears), whether it will be smoke-free, and who the other potential patrons not associated with your party may be.
- Assure your host that if your baby has a meltdown, you will excuse yourself, whether temporarily or by calling it an early night. It’s fair for adults to want a time and space where they can step away from the demands of raising children.
- If your baby needs a diaper change, go to a private area and always put a mat or blanket down on whatever surface you use. If you use disposable diapers, take it with you to dispose of later (unless you know the hosts *really* well and feel ok asking to dispose of it in their garbage).
- Your little black dress might be AWESOME but it is probably also really hard to breastfeed while wearing it. For maximum babywearing-party-going efficiency and enjoyment, try dressy pants and a dressy button-down blouse. Maybe a pretty scarf or pashmina would be useful for coverage or to block distractions for baby. A ring sling tail will do the same. The hood on a carrier like the pikkolo, or other SSC, can serve this function as well.
- If you have an alcoholic drink or two, there is typically little to worry about with regard to breastfeeding. Alcohol can inhibit let-down but if this is not usually a problem for you, drinking a little likely won’t pose a problem. Also, you do NOT need to pump and dump your milk if you drink, unless you are uncomfortably full and not yet ready to nurse baby. Alcohol does not stay in the milk, it dissipates just as it does from the bloodstream. Blood alcohol levels peak within 30-90 minutes of consuming a drink (faster without food, slower while eating). Most doctors advise consuming no more than 1-2 drinks and waiting a minimum of 2-3 hours to nurse again. There is also a product called Milkscreen, which you can use to determine if there is any alcohol in your breastmilk if you are concerned. (See Thomas Hale’s Medications and Mother’s Milk, 1999, for more information on alcohol’s interactions with breastfeeding.)
So, would you take a baby to a party? At what age would you think twice, or say “no way!” For me, I would only take a pre-walking baby that I knew would be content in a carrier for at least an hour (and hopefully more!). Beyond that and I think the experience would be more stressful than fun.