What's the etiquette on taking a baby to an all ages show?

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By: michaeljzealot – CC BY 2.0
By: michaeljzealotCC BY 2.0

I've heard of acquaintances taking babies to large open air festivals, and a quick internet search turned up the tale of a couple who by all accounts had a lovely time with their baby at a Taylor Swift concert.

But my husband and I aren't interested in going to any big stadium concerts. The types of show I'm used to attending are generally held in much smaller indoor venues, like bars and church basements. So far as the kid is concerned, as long as he's riding in the baby carrier with ear muffs on, I think he'll do just fine.

I'm more worried that we'd be crossing some social line with the other concert goers. Obviously any shows that are 21+ are out of the question. But our neighborhood bike shop is hosting an all ages hardcore show after hours, and I'd love for us to be able to expose our kid to some live independent music.

What's the etiquette on taking a baby to an all ages show? -Erin

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  1. I'm curious about the same thing as I want to start taking my seven month old to concerts. I make sure to read all of the info on the tickets to see if it says anything specific about children. With a small show like that I would probably talk to the people putting it on and just ask them if I can bring my baby.

    1 agrees
    • I would say that it depends on the individual venue–and your kid's temperament. As with anywhere else, bear in mind that you may need to take your child out if/when a meltdown occurs. As others mention, be wary of rowdy gatherings or really crowded spaces that may make it difficult 1. To keep your kid from being bumped/jostled and 2. To attend to your child's needs (feeding, outfit changes–even diaper changes).

      My husband and I take our daughter to most events we attend (admittedly, not as many concerts as when we were younger and went out later in the evening), but we do so with the understanding that we may well have to take her outside and/or go home if she gets cranky. We, at least, do this as a courtesy to other attendees and performers–and because it's no fun for us, when a tantrum is occuring.

      IN SHORT: depends on the venue, depends on your kid, be prepared to be turned away or have to take your kid out at a moment's notice. (And good luck finding a changing table anywhere!)

      8 agree
  2. Open air is very different from smaller spaces. There is a lot more contained noise.

    Etiquette, I've no idea. Hearing for your baby? Some basement shows and hard core concerts easily reach decibels that sustained can lead to permanent hearing damage.

    For the sake of your baby's future hearing, I do not recommend non open air spaces. And if you can feel the vibration, you are too close for the comfort of your kid

    18 agree
  3. I think with a baby carrier and earmuffs, you should be good to go. Other than that, just be aware of the crowd (you certainly want to avoid anything resembling a mosh pit and would want to be extra cautious around any especially rowdy fans just for physical safety).

    I honestly used to see babies at music festivals and think "who would bring a baby?!"…but now, it's become so common that I don't think anything of it (as long as baby has hearing protection and seems reasonably content…normal fussing is no problem, but if the kiddow seems really distressed and overwhelmed, then it might be time to call it a night.)

    As I'm due in December, I think it's pretty likely our kid will be attending a few music festivals in his/her early years…our favorite outdoor fest welcomes kids under a certain age with free admission too, so that certainly helps 🙂

    2 agree
    • Maybe the best way to get an answer to this question is to check with a pediatrician…They can likely check that the ear muffs have a proper fit to prevent any hearing damage too.

      14 agree
  4. I would be more concerned about the noise level potentially injuring your babies ears. They are at a sensitive stage and hearing loss is a real concern. I'm not sure whether earplugs for babies are a thing.

    7 agree
    • They are!

      Although actually they are headphone like rather than plug like, but basically they are designed specifically for protecting babies and toddlers ears at events with amplified music or other loud noise. My neices love theirs and will put them on at other times too becuase it just feels nice and kind of cosy and private. These are the ear muffs people are referring to in other posts. 🙂

      1 agrees
      • My kid wore the headphones until he was about 4-5 months old (we play dog sports, and there is LOTS of barking) but once he figured out how to take them off himself, that was the end.

        1 agrees
  5. I just went to a hardcore festival-like, 40 bands over two days sort of thing. There were a ton of children of all ages there, all rocking candy-colored earmuffs. There were so many babies some of the parents set up a baby-pit in the rear of the venue for the kids to bump around into each other and bop around (I had no idea they made so many band shirts in toddler sizes). That being said, it had a restaurant attached, which greatly changes the legalities of having babies in bars after certain times. I'd check your local laws and when in doubt, call the bar in question and ask if children are allowed before or after a certain time. If the event has a Facebook page set up for it, maybe contact the event coordinators to see if your child is accepted or encouraged. Of course, be open to the response no matter what it is, and remember that just because you are into it doesn't mean your kid will agree, and be prepared to leave when things get fidgetty.

    7 agree
  6. We took our newborn to a play and no one seemed to mind. Just be ready to bow out if the babe gets fussy, and it should be fine is my opinion.

  7. I go to a lot of Timbers soccer games which can be very loud & kinda rowdy in certain sections. I see babies with the big headphones frequently. They seem very relaxed most of the time so I imagine the headphones are very effective. The crowd there is very welcoming; I think most people realize you still want to go to games & hear live music as a parent. I definitely would support taking the baby to a calm place if it was upset but I think that's just common sense. Good luck!

  8. I took my baby to fireworks when he was about 2 months old (not normal fireworks, but ones put on just for employees so they were shot off from like 30 yards away). We got some of the protective earmuffs for him which worked out because they also had a live band playing that was also really loud. I had asked my pediatrician ahead of time and they basically said that (At least for fireworks) there was no risk of damage, and it's more about how your baby reacts to the noise. Ours was fine with the loud band, but when the fireworks started, he freaked out pretty hard and we had to watch from our car.

  9. My husband works at one of our smallish local music venues (1000 person capacity). We regularly take our kids to the all ages shows (including back stage sometimes). It is a great way to introduce kiddos to the music scene. My suggestions are to: know your comfort level, know your baby's comfort level, and know the venue. Does bringing your baby to a show sound like fun or does it totally stress you out? If you can picture you dancing and singing while wearing your baby then bring em. If your baby is social and likes to hang out in his sling/ baby pouch then bring em. Do you know your venue and its vibe? Is it cool (most music lovers will be cool since everyone likes to introduce people to their music) or full of folks who are their for things other then the music? If it's cool then bring em. Other then that dress comfy, bring extra diapers, get baby used to the ear muffs, and use your most comfortable baby wearing device. That and follow your instincts about where to stand and when to leave.

    4 agree
  10. As a young non-parent and person who attends small indoor shows I'd say there's no "crossed line" until the child makes itself heard. Some people will be nasty regardless so prepare for that but overall I'd say more people will appreciate a very young face being raised as a part of the scene than not. As long as you are courteous about your presence and aren't disturbing the show itself I'd go for it. Avoid strollers though, in the outdoor festivals I've been clipped in the shins by parents wheeling their stroller around (often bumping over gravel or just because how tight packed the venue is, sometimes just outright ignoring where they're going though fewer of those thankfully) so indoors you'd most certainly get the stink eye.

    I'd definitely ask the event host ahead, bring only what you need and can comfortably carry including baby, stay back from the stage/speakers, and be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

    2 agree
  11. It sounds like the OP already has a good handle on things like environment, ear/hearing protection, and obviously has the best idea of what their baby's temperament is. I think in any situation like this, the biggest thing to think about ahead of time, is an exit plan, a feeding plan, and a plan for diapers. Exit plan doesn't necessarily mean giving up and going home – sometimes we misjudge how our kids will react to things and need to take them to a quiet place to regroup, before deciding whether to rejoin the event or change plans for the day. Feeding plan is pretty self explanatory – every baby has different requirements for how/where they can feed. Some need to have a place with zero distractions, so if you've already thought of your exit plan, you can use wherever you plan to regroup as your feeding place. Other babies will eat wherever, so you just have to find a place where you're comfortable (are you OK standing, do you prefer to sit down?). And then diapers. If you've got a good diaper kit and are ready to change your baby anywhere, you'll be set… just like with any trip anywhere.

    Something that I find helps me a lot in these situations is taking my kid with me to the venue on a quieter day to see how he reacts to the space. I can go to a place a million times and never even notice that they have the perfect spot for snuggling in an often uncrowded corner… or on the other side, maybe this'll be the first time I'll notice that their booths are too tight a fit for me to wear a carrier and sit down in, or are just really uncomfortable for breastfeeding. Then, also, the staff may be able to see my kid in his most positive light, so when I mention we plan to all be at the next all-ages event, I know some of them will be there & be happy to see us. Sometimes they also have really good suggestions for helping our kiddo enjoy the experience.

    3 agree
  12. I cant speak to the etiquette or anything like that but I can give you the opinion of a regular punk gig goer. Some local band managers had their first kid 5ish years ago and she has been a staple at any all ages/appropriate venue shows ever since. Not only is she welcomed, she is completely ADORED! The community well and truly embraced her being there, they took great care to make sure she wasnt ever jostled and bumped as a baby and now can safely have run of the dancefloor if she wants it, with everyone keeping an eye out that noone is going to bother her. It is an excellent example of the way we come together as a community. I guess the biggest question is what are the people at the shows you want to go like? Are they generally tolerant and look out for each other, does it feel like a safe environment to you? If it does then its probably a pretty good bet they will be just as respectful and careful with your tiny human – embraced even!

    • I think those are what people are talking about when they say "ear muffs" (i.e. not the cold-weather kind) 🙂

    • Yes, those are the type of ear muffs I'm talking about. Our local sports/hunting store carries something similar for kids' hearing protection. These are cuter, though!

  13. Just because it's all ages doesn't mean it won't get rowdy. When I was a preggy too-cool-for-school indie kid, I went to shows all the time, and once (at an all-ages show) it got scary rowdy when I was up front. Totally unexpected considering the bands, the venue, and the crowd. My friend shielded me until he could help me find an escape route. That was the end of that. I dunno…I just wouldn't bring a baby to a show unless it's like, Harry and the Potters. But even then…nah.

    1 agrees

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