Moms Talk: Babies at Midnight Movies?

A lot of folks are talking about the parents of the three-month-old who was injured during the Colorado movie theater shootings last week. Are they wrong for having a baby at a midnight showing? What do you think?

Last Friday, a lone shooter killed 12 people and injured many others during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

Upon hearing the news, our country was saddened and outraged. It’s sparked debates about gun control (and I’ve had about enough of it on my Facebook page—can we please get back to cute pictures of your kids and funny stories from your day?) and personal freedoms in our country.

Conversations are ongoing about what many believe to be deficiencies in mental health care in our country. Are sick people getting the help they need to prevent tragedies like this?

Another conversation is taking off as a result of the tragic news, and it’s a heated one.

As a country, we were horrified to hear that a three-month-old baby was shot and injured at the theater massacre, and a lot of folks are wondering why in the world a baby was a midnight showing in the first place.

Some people, in blog comments and Twitter posts, are actually suggesting that the parents of the baby brought this on themselves for having the baby out so late.

Really? We’re wagging fingers at the parents of a baby shot at point-blank range in what was surely the most terrifying, nightmarish moment of their lives?

I’m going to assure myself that the people taking this tactic are just trying to make themselves feel less vulnerable by assuring themselves that as long as they continue keeping their children home at night nothing terrible will ever happen to them. I can’t bear to think otherwise—that they are consciously aware they’re making a horrific experience for the baby’s parents even more horrific with their judgments and blame-placing.

I’ve never taken an infant to an adult movie. Not because I worried about them absorbing any of the violence onscreen, but because my husband is Mr. Uber Considerate. He would pass out from shame if our baby made a peep in a movie theatre. It’s understandable. When movies cost more than your dinner, you should respect other patrons’ right to an undisturbed theater experience.

But I understand why someone would take their baby to a late movie. Movies are expensive, and the idea of coughing up even more cash for a sitter is hard to swallow. And some parents just aren’t comfortable leaving their babies with sitters.

Also, some babies are just good. They’ll sleep through the entire movie, and mom or dad are ready with breasts or bottles if they don’t.

As long as you’re ready to dash to the door if your baby makes noise, I don’t have a problem with babies in theatres.

For the people judging the parents for having an infant out so late at night? Well, I took my infant daughter to concerts and music festivals that lasted well into the night. She was perfectly fine sleeping in a sling across my chest. She probably actually preferred that to sleeping in her crib. It wasn’t a disruption of her schedule, and she wasn’t in more danger because she was outside the house at night. Bad things don’t happen only in the nighttime. 

My heart goes out to all the victims and their families, and especially to the parents of the infant who was shot. They’ll live the rest of their lives playing that moment over in their minds and wondering if it really was their fault.

It wasn’t.

What do you think, moms? Babies in movie theatres? Babies at adult movies? Late night showings? Is it okay, or should parents cough up the cash for a sitter or stay at home?


Jennifer Silas July 27, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Among my list of pet peeves: Children in movies, babies in movies, and mom and dad in my movie while children are in another theater and when their movie is over they come in to get money from mom and dad who are, of course, sitting right in front of me. Movies are so loud, I don't think babies delicate ears should be exposed to the volume of these action movies. Young children shouldn't be exposed to the violence of the movie. And yes, if I am getting my night out with out my kids....the last thing I want is to be bothered by your kids...so Raven I like your husband very much. We used to take our kids to the Drive in movie theater that was along I-85. I confess I did ask "why was a baby in a movie theater at midnight?" when I heard that a baby was among the victims. It doesn't mean that anyone there was asking for this bad thing to happen. I just don't think it was a place for a baby to be.
Agnes Nutter July 27, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I know people, including parents, have different opinions about this, and I try to be respectful, but honestly all of this "debate" over babies in movies strikes me as just about the dumbest thing to argue over since the color of mud. I've taken all three of my babies to movies. Between 2-weeks and 4-months is the perfect age, actually, because they're at the stage when loud noises and bright lights just make them shut down and go to sleep. If you notice, everyone up on their soapbox about crying infants potentially ruining their movie-going experience is speaking in hypotheticals. This rarely happens because unless the baby is sick or improperly handled, an infant in a movie theater is going to be asleep. Ear plugs, a blanket over their head, and a cuddle next to mom is all they need. If we're talking about banning the age group most likely to cause a disturbance in a grown-up movie, then I think kids between the ages of 9 and 15 should be left at home, and college students age 20-24 should be chaperoned by their grandparents or pastor. Also, if I'm in a theater with my kid and the kid starts causing a disruption that I don't immediately quash, by all means, make us leave. I call the manager on obnoxious drunks and bratty pre-teens all the time.
Amaryllis July 31, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I don't want to hear kids in a restaurant much less a movie. I don't go to kids movies, so I shouldn't have to see them there, especially at midnight.
Michelle Gilliland August 01, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I like you, Agnes. I do. :)
Michelle Gilliland August 01, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I think that every baby is different, and every situation is different. I probably wouldn't have taken a baby to see an action movie because I don't really care for action movies myself. One can only assume that my baby wouldn't be audacious enough to enjoy a movie other than Nemo at the tender age of three months, so I probably wouldn't have taken any of my children. But all joking aside, I think that if your baby is asleep, which most are... well... it's really not a big deal. What does annoy me is taking a child who is developmentally incapable of understanding fantasy versus reality to a movie such as Batman. That is the real issue, and one that always seems to slide at the theaters as they will allow entry to anyone with $10.
Agnes Nutter August 01, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Michelle, I like you, too. :) Reading back over my post, though, I see that I got on a soapbox of my own and didn't really make my point. Typical. Anyway, regardless of my opinion on whether people should take babies to movies, getting shot by a crazed gunman is not one of the factors parents do or should consider when making that decision. For the sake of argument, let's say taking a baby to a late movie is bad parenting. The natural consequence is that your child is fussy and late to toilet train and won't practice piano and maybe grows up with a marmite fetish. And also that people like Amaryllis and Raven's husband don't like you very much. It's not that your baby gets shot. If you look at the statistics on babies who are shot every year, I'm pretty sure most of them are not in movie theaters past their bedtime. The good parenting issue, to me, is different from the social etiquette issue. It's not bad parenting to have a baby in a movie theatre. If the baby isn't causing a disruption, I don't see how it's bad etiquette, either. It's not like taking him to a bar and expecting all smoking and drinking and macking on each other to stop. It's just a baby. Just think of it as a moist, interactive handbag.


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