I’ve Taken My Toddler To Every Pub In My Neighborhood, And I’m Not Sorry

Baby Loves Disco, Rock & Roll HotelJust to lay a little groundwork, I will start with a little anecdote. Before we had our daughter, my husband and I were regulars at a local neighbourhood pub. The servers knew us by name. They knew our favourite table. They would bring us our drinks of choice without us having said a word. If our favourite sports team was playing the TVs would be flipped to that station as soon as we walked in. It was fabulous.

Then I got pregnant, we stopped going out for drinks, and that pub went out of business. True story.

No, I don’t actually think that the loss of our business that made the pub go under. I can hold my liquor pretty well, but I can’t drink that much. My point is simply that my husband and I are pub people. We like sitting down for a pint and some relaxing conversation in the cozy confines of a local watering hole. And having a baby has not changed that in the slightest. In fact, at just over 18 months, I can proudly say that my daughter has been to every pub in our neighborhood.

When we were pregnant with our daughter, my husband and I decided that, to the greatest extent possible, we were not going to let the fact that we had a child change who we fundamentally were. Now, going out to a pub is obviously not a defining characteristic of who either of us are. However, so many people spoke about the imminent arrival of our child as if she was some kind of anti-social atomic bomb that would decimate all our previous fun-loving ways, and lay waste to any thoughts of engaging in traditional “adult” pastimes.

We were determined not to let that happen. Hence, my daughter’s pub-going ways begin when she was just a few months into the world.

At first, I was quite nervous to take my daughter out. There was, of course, a bit of the fear of the unknown, since you never know exactly how your child will behave in such a new situation. Even more than that, unfortunately, was the worry over how other people would react. I’ve read the articles lambasting (sometimes justifiably, undoubtedly) parents who bring their loud children to restaurants and spoil the experience of all the other patrons. However, I also knew that after going through my horrible postpartum anxiety it was extremely important for me to start resuming some of the patterns of my pre-baby life, and to feel like life could be “normal” once again.

So, to the pub we went, gainsay us who dare!

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  • Kelly

    If you’re out by 6:30 I have no problem with it.

    It’s when I walk into a bar at night, have to show my ID to get in, and see a friggin’ toddler inside that I get pissed. That’s ridiculous and I react by walking out and never going back. I’m sure I’m not the only person who responds that way.

    • jane

      Pub and bar feel different to me. Pub is “eating establishment that also has a bar for drinking.” Bar is “drinking establishment that also serves food.” I think it’s fine for children to be a pubs, even later, but they shouldn’t be at bars, even earlier.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I agree. Pubs where I live are generally classified as restaurants and often have high chairs, kid’s menus, etc.
      To me, if I’m carded at the door – that’s a bar/club and it’s probably 19+ and no kids allowed (drinking age is 19 here).

    • Kelly

      We’re going to have to agree to disagree on that. If I walk into a pub at midnight and see someone with a 2 year old, I judge them a shit parent and walk out to go find a pub that doesn’t allow that nonsense.

    • jane

      More power to you. But if you insist on walking out of every place that has shit parents, or if you expect restaurants to somehow not cater “to that nonsense” (i.e. paying patrons) you might as well just stay home. It’s just that it’s only obvious they’re shit parents if they have their kid out at midnight.

    • Kelly

      Thanks for telling me to stay home since I don’t like to party with infants and children but it hasn’t been a big problem for me.

      I live in Las Vegas. We have plenty of pubs and bars that do not cater to shit parents. I do not need to tolerate those that do.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      omg I wanna go to Vegasssssssss

    • CMJ

      LET’S DO IT

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      shut your pie hole you just got back from D world. I do love Vegas though, it’s sooooo fun

    • CMJ

      I’ve never been!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      how long is the drive for you guys? Plus, I don;t know about this whole babies in bars thing, I guess we kinda grew up in bars, so I never assumed it as a biggie if they served food. all my babies have been in bars , like think about the triple rock

    • CMJ

      It’s a pretty cheap flight….

      Also, it doesn’t bother me that much – especially if they serve food. Anyplace with “unce uncing” though is a totally different story.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter


    • CMJ

      It’s the word I use for club music.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      OMG my students make that noise because they know it makes me irrationally angry. And those are the actual words they say. I’m impressed at your spelling of this imaginary word. :)

    • Véronique Houde

      just start saying unce unce unce unce and you’ll hear the beat in your head lol

    • pixie

      I did that and then had the urge to fist pump. Apparently my inner self is a secret bro. #ashamed

    • auntiea

      Unce uncing is totally going into my daily vocab. Is it bad I also did the bended arm/chest pumping thing when I read it?

    • Bunny Lucia

      Just wait for six more months, then I can go with you. :D

    • Alicia Kiner

      Some people keep their kids up late at night due to work schedules. We had neighbors who kept their kids up until about 2 am, because the father worked 2nd shift, and they slept later in the day as a result. This was pretty much the only way he got to spend quality time with them. We shared a wall (townhouse) so the mom and I had a couple conversations about coordinating our vacuuming and louder activities so we wouldn’t wake each other’s kids. Made us both much more sane!! All that to say having kids “out” doesn’t necessarily make them shit parents, depending on the environment. Though I admit, I don’t think any place where alcohol is on the menu is child-friendly after a certain time.

    • Kelly

      I’ve been one of those parents with the crazy schedule so I get having them up but you still have to take into account WHERE you are taking your kids at midnight. I still think you’re a shit parent if you have your kid at an alcohol themed establishment in the middle of the night. Crazy but true.

  • Tea

    You’re out early and you leave in a meltdown, sounds fine by me. I get irritated when someone has a fussy baby with them all night and gives the stink eye to anyone who says a word harsher than “Crap”. You don’t ask for the music to be turned down, or for the rest of the world to accommodate you. You’re not asking for special treatment because you have a baby, you’re being a normal person with a baby. So, have fun!

  • Crusty Socks

    I am soooo tired of parents who bring their kids to my neighborhood strip clubs! I just wish strip clubs would stop the ‘Kids eat free’ lunch buffets. Total mood killer you know?

    • Kay_Sue

      Hey, what about “Bring Your Kids To Work Day”?

    • Crusty Socks

      Kay, do you have a side job that we don’t know about???

      if you do, um… where?

    • Kay_Sue

      No such luck. I was not blessed with much in the way of rhythm, and I doubt standing on stage flailing would net me much moolah…

    • Valerie

      Yeah, I def look like a drunk water buffalo when I try to dance. No dolla dolla bills ya’ll in my thong!

    • Crusty Socks

      Pic for proof

    • Valerie

      Girl your loins and see below….

    • Crusty Socks

      I’d throw my dolla billz for that!

    • Valerie

      I am a whole lotta woman. Just watch out for those horns. Ouchie!

    • Kay_Sue

      I kind of look like Gumby when I try. It’s no attractive, it’s just not. *sighs*

    • keelhaulrose

      So, in the realm of “I shit you not”-ville, my mom, sister, and I were checking out local tattoo parlors (they’re buying me a tattoo for my birthday, because I’m the only one who doesn’t have one out of us), and we went to one that a friend had recommended. There was a three year old playing in a corner, and I made a comment on how I was surprised they let kids in. The artist, very apologetically, said it was the owner’s son, and he was there a lot. I liked the artist’s work, but not enough to be willing to face my needle phobia with a three year old nearby. I know I’m going to curse at least once, and I feel bad cursing in front of a child, even if hears it all the time.

    • Kelly

      I once walked into a bar/restaurant on the Las Vegas strip after midnight. I was carded at the front door. Inside there were toddlers on the dance floor and half the tables were filled with families with kids. I even asked the bouncer why he carded me if the place was full of kids. Did the kids have proper ID too? He just sadly shook his head and shrugged. I left and never went back and that was five years ago.

      I’ve read several articles about this business having financial problems since and it’s no wonder why. Most grown ups don’t want to drink, dance and socialize with other people’s cooing infants or curious toddlers. Go figure.

    • LiteBrite

      Upvoted for getting a tattoo as a present. My two tattoos were also presents. Money well spent. :)

    • Kay_Sue

      I don’t blame you. I have a hard enough time not cursing in front of my own when I stub my toe. I do NOT want the responsibility of someone else’s kid.

    • Valerie

      But one time I saw a stripper with a pacifier in her mouth. It even glowed in the dark. Seems baby-friendly to me!

    • MERKIN

      What is this “Featured by Mommyish.com” award? I’m confuussseeedddd

  • SmrtGrl86

    We took our baby to the local tavern when he was two weeks old. We ate there a lot when I was pregnant (fried pickles!) and the ladies that work there were delighted to meet the baby and took turns holding him while I inhaled my hamburger. Granted it’s one of the only eat in restaurants within ten miles of our farm so our options are limited but it’s one of the few places I actually feel comfortable taking the munchkin. It’s relatively quiet and the other diners are a bunch of blue collar folk with kids and grand kids so we never get the side eye if the baby gets fussy while I get his bottle ready. The only fault is a bathroom so small it’s impossible to change a diaper in it, so little man puts up with a wet toosh for the 15 minute ride home or I change him in the van. I love taking the baby to the bar, I don’t have to cook and whoever isn’t driving home gets to have a drink or two. It’s a win-win.

  • Kay_Sue

    I’ve never gotten dirty looks so long as we’re not out crazy late and we don’t try to push through meltdowns. My kids usually sleep relatively early though, so that part is partially self preservation… ;)

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    This is pertinent for me today….last night, we were invited out by some friends who also have a kid. They invited us to a restaurant near their place, because one of their friends was putting on a show with their band – 2 sets, with the first starting at 7pm. We arranged to meet at 5:30pm so we could all eat before the band started. As we finished eating, the place started filling up for the band. Both kids were having a blast dancing in a small space in front of the stage, where other folks had gathered to dance/watch. I have a pretty low tolerance for annoying kids, and I know I’m biased but I don’t think our two kids were taking up more space than anyone else was or making any more noise than anyone else (i.e. clapping and cheering when the band finished a song). But we left after 3 songs because as my wife was at the till settling up from our dinner, she heard some folks around her complaining about our kids, “I can’t believe anyone would bring their kids here, ugh fucking parents, blahblahblah”. We were so embarrassed, so we gathered our stuff and left. Our friends stayed with their kid though, because they wanted to see their friends play.

    I’m still just upset a bit because I don’t think we did anything wrong….it was a restaurant, not a bar, that was having a band playing, an early set….I guess I assumed that because our friends had been to this restaurant before and were friends with the band, that it was all ok. I like going to see bands play, and if a show is early enough and all ages, then I like to take my kid because she also likes to see bands play. But some people really do think you shouldn’t ever go anywhere other than Chuckie Cheese. :(

    • Kay_Sue

      That’s sucky of them. :(

    • Alexandra Quinlan

      Oh no! That’s too bad. You can come to the pub with me anytime! :)

    • Jennifer Freeman

      Some people are d-bags is the problem. When we lived in Germany, we ALWAYS took our daughter to whatever gasthaus or biergarten we were in. Lots of families are there because they are primarily restaurants and all about socializing. It’s not like people were getting hammered and we had our kid doing keg stands.

    • kay

      If it was a 10 pm set or in a full on bar or something I’d judge, not going to lie. But 7? In a restaurant? As long as they aren’t dancing into my table or screaming whatever. Kids exist. Childfree places (like bars, or a 21+ show) exist, and if your social life cannot stand kids there’s awesome places for you to go.

      (I take my baby to breweries all the time.)

    • AE Vorro

      That sucks! You didn’t do anything wrong.

    • Ennis Demeter

      Not only do I think you did nothing wrong, but what kind of mean spirited killjoys wouldn’t have a good time in a restaurant where little kids are dancing to a band?

  • val97

    I was a bartender for many years. Come in during daylight hours, tip well, make sure your kids are behaving, and it was all good with me.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I looooove day drinking with my babies. I also tip well. #baller

  • PrairieCoast

    I’m jealous. Our favourite pub would not allow children, even newborn babies sleeping in their carseats. We had to quit cold turkey and it was very sad.

  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    My parents had a bar when I was growing up. I knew how to play pinball before I could walk.

    • bs

      My dad used to take us bowling all the time! Of course, it was a full six months before my mom realized he wasn’t actually taking us to the bowling alley but the bar with one of those bowling/pin ball machines. Ahhhh sweet memories :)

  • jsterling93

    I also take my child to a “pub,” Before we had our son we frequented a local bar that we loved. Right around the time our son was born the owners opened a new pub. It is a brewery and restaurant. Since the other was a flat out bar and it is illegal to take our son in there we started going to the other. Several of the bar tenders were the same as the other location so they seemed happy to see us and remembered what we liked to drink. The first few time we went there were no changing tables in the bathroom or high chairs. We didn’t complain or mention it because really it didn’t seem to be a place meant for kids.

    We always sat out of the way and if our son got fussy we left. Pretty soon they had changing tables in both women’s and men’s rooms and high chairs. The bar tenders and wait staff know our son’s name and engage him when we go in. I asked one of the bar tenders about the changes and he said after we started going other parents who saw us started bring their kids. Once they became the “family friendly” pup their business sky rocketed. So I do feel it is ok for there to be kids. But I also believe in manners and it is only good manners to take care of your child. So no letting them run wild there or scream without trying to comfort them. We all know that babies can’t be perfectly silent but if your child is trowing a fit don’t just ignore them or expect someone else to deal with it. Otherwise let’s all meet at the pub for a pint :)

  • Reba

    I guess this persons idea of a pub is different than a bar. A pub is an eatery with a bar, why would anyone care if you took your child out for dinner? I don’t think we have many restaurants in my town that ARENT “pubs”. Ha ha , now taking your daughter to a bar here would be frowned up because it wouldn’t be legal and all the bars here (Atlanta) are very smokey.

    So is taking your daughter to a restaurant seriously an issue? lol!

    • Alexandra Quinlan

      Author here. I don’t think a restaurant and a pub are necessarily synonymous.
      A restaurant is a place that serves meals, and can serve some alcohol along with those meals. However, it is not a place people go for just a drink.

      A pub is more of a place that has food for dinners, yes, but also has some serious tap selection, bar rail seating, and high tables for the regulars. It has much more emphasis on alcohol. I am using it in the traditional sense of a Britsh tavern/public house.

      And yes, there are some restaurants in town that I certainly think it would be an issue to take my daughter too!

    • Reba

      Hmm yeah I applaud you going to pubs if they’re non-smoking, I mean who gives a hoot what other people think, really. If your kid isn’t running around wailing all over the floor then it’s no ones business.

    • Alexandra Quinlan

      Where I live pubs (and bars and restaurants) are required to be non-smoking. Huzzah for me! I totally agree I would NOT take my toddler to a smoke-filled bar.

    • Reba

      I live in Atlanta and CANNOT WAIT until that happens here.

    • Reba

      I think maybe an issue people would have with it is are the parents drinking too much and then driving with their kid. I’d assume thats the only real reason anyone would care. Which honestly I worked at a pizza restaurant and had so many parents get sloshed on beers then try to drive their kids. Sad

    • Lackadaisical

      Sounds like the family lounge of a pub in Britain, in which case it would be completely normal for kids to be there up until roughly kids bedtime in the UK

    • Lackadaisical

      Don’t know where the author lives but where I live (UK) they are all called pubs, except the ladida wine bars (which tend to be much the same but with delusions of grandeur). A lot of pubs have a family lounge with restaurant but a lot don’t. When I was a kid there were rules about kids in the bar up to a certain time of day and then they were only allowed in the family lounge … I think, that could have just been something parents said to us to get us out before bedtime. In good weather we used to sit in the beer garden as kids.

  • Lilly

    I guess it somewhat depends on the differences between different types of establishments where you live. In my city there is really not much distinction between restaurant and pub, many pubs are really family friendly and many restaurants take on a bar vibe later on Friday and Saturday nights, so I think time of day matters more then location (and liquor license). I regularly take my toddler to a local brew-pub because they have good food, high chairs, change tables and a great house-made beer selection, but on weekend nights they are definitely more of an adults place only after 8-9 pm-ish.

    Where I live for university however the licensing was really strict — you had to be 19+ if you didn’t serve meals with booze and the counter to that was restaurants couldn’t serve booze to people who didn’t have a meal (often just appetizers didn’t count). This meant there was a really definite line between places kids were allowed and not.

  • personal

    OK, I have to be honest. I didn’t know there were people who go to pubs who DON’T take their kids with them. As far as I know, there are folks who go to pubs and folks who don’t but those who do take their kids.
    We live in Germany and we have a lot of Irish friends here (and in Ireland). We go directly to the brewery here in our town. And many Biergartens have a slide or sandbox or something for the kids.
    A friend of mine met us to show off her new baby (the day after the birth) in a Biergarten. :)

  • SA

    HA! I got pregnant and our fave pub went out of business too. The owner joked with me that alcohol sales were down (it actually went out of business b/c of other circumstances!)

    I feel very lucky to live in a child-friendly, alcohol lovin’ town. Our kid has been to breweries, pubs, bars, you name it. It is definitely NOT an unusual site here. There is always a DD parent who never had more than a beer (or two depending on how long we are there). I haven’t seen other parents getting out of control either. It is nice to go to a lot of these places which not only have music, food, spirits, but activities for children as well!

  • auntiea

    Completely true story: I went out to a bar one night, which during the day early evening families go to eat, and a women, mid-twenties had her three year old daughter with her. At 11:30pm. Being a preschool teacher, and so smart at 22 years old (and slightly drunk) I gave the women my number and told her to call me if she ever needs a sitter. She actually called and I did watch her kid. I charged her $20/hr.

  • Lackadaisical

    I think this is something that depends very much on the atmosphere of your local pubs. I have had locals that I would feel comfortable with a kid and where I would feel welcome but I wouldn’t dream of taking my kids to some of the pubs I go to in the centre of the small city I live in. This is not because the pubs in town are any rougher, just that they have a different atmosphere. My local has a family room and does a decent pub lunch with a kids menu, but the adult lounge isn’t somewhere I would take the kids, however I have been to village pubs where it would be fine and comfortable and not upset the patrons at all. I am assuming that your locals are the kind of places like that or like my local rather than a spit and sawdust place with a rough and rowdy atmosphere.

  • Maria Guido

    I think as long as it’s early and you use good judgment picking the place – no big deal. I do have to say it’s a bummer being near babies in bars when I’m taking a moment to get away from my own kids – but if I ever had that much of a problem with it I would just go somewhere else.

    • allison

      I have to admit that sometimes I like hearing other kids behaving badly

      when I am out for dinner with my husband. We always secretly smirk and rejoice that for once it isn’t our kids.

  • LJ

    In the NW there are McMenamins’ pubs/breweries/hotels. (Our first date was at one and we were married at another) I highly recommend them if you are ever in the OR/WA region, their beers are amazing. We always bring our daughter with us to the local one. It is laid back, comfy, and family friendly without involving horrifying giant mice or clowns. We can sip beers and snack on cajun tots while our daughter feverishly colors or plays peekaboo with other kids. We have always felt welcome there and I have never felt wrong/guilty about taking her. *Cheers to kids in pubs* and the establishments that welcome them!

  • gammachris

    That’s nice. Those of us who are trying to have a child-free night out thank you. smh

  • Matt Scheaffer

    Glad you have justified it to yourself but you are still a piece of shit and probably trash (even if you have money) and enjoy taking care of your daughter’s kid when she is 15 and the random 25 year old bar guy she banged is nowhere to be seen. I’m going to laugh.

  • Matt Scheaffer

    Is there anywhere I can go now and not have to deal with some asshole’s shitty brats?