Babies at Home

Framed photo of a baby amongst ornaments

As far as the rest of the world is concerned, you will be seen as an acceptable parent if you manage to minimise the amount of baby-related fuss you generate. People will be tolerant of a baby as long as it doesn't intrude on their personal space or disrupt their enjoyment/concentration. So follow these simple rules, and you will be beyond criticism:

- Don't mix up baby time and adult time. If you're entertaining friends to dinner and the baby starts to cry, don't bring it down to the dinner table - the presence of a howling infant is going to kill the evening stone dead. Stay upstairs with the baby until you have solved the problem (bottle, nappy-change, cuddle) and got it back to sleep.

- This may mean absenting yourself from your guests for quite long periods, but they have each other for company, and will appreciate your efforts to keep baby-related mayhem to a minimum.

- Even if the baby is happy and smiling, be very aware that the amount of time that your friends will want to spend ogling your infant and admiring its every flicker of facial expression is strictly limited.

- Everyone will enjoy interacting with the baby when they arrive, but they won't want their conversation to be continually interrupted by repeated exclamations of amazement at the baby's latest achievement.

- No baby talk. Everyone succumbs to highly embarrassing behaviour around a baby when they're alone, but you must be aware that this is a social liability. Nobody knows how to react to a gurgling, lisping parent - baby talk is a strictly private vice.

- Take it outside. If you and your partner are frazzled and nerves are getting frayed, don't start rowing about whose turn it is to change the nappy, prepare the next feed, take the screaming baby into the garden etc. in front of your friends. You will soon get a reputation as the parents from hell and your social life will evaporate.

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