There’s no reason not to take a new baby to the pub. You’ve just been through an extraordinarily emotional experience – a pub is a great place to process something like that. You’re off work for a bit and a pub is a terrific place to go when not working. You might want to see friends to introduce your baby to them, but your house resembles a bomb site – and pubs are usually clean!
Newborns are asleep or feeding for most of the time, and both of those are things that can be done effortlessly in fully licenced establishments. There’s no smoking in pubs anymore, so they’re not being exposed to noxious substances, and they’re too young for any of the unparliamentary language that might be flung around in boozers to have any impact.
Plus, think of your relationship as parents. Once sleep training comes in it’s all over, and without calling in favours or paying someone, it’ll be a long time before the pair of you are in the pub together at night again.
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The initial bit is actually a beautiful, golden time, a time where you can win pub quizzes while clutching an infant, see other working adults on weekday evenings and show them this amazing creature you’ve made. Then in come regular sleeping hours and it’s cans of Kronenbourg in front of Netflix – still nice, sure, but different. Got a newborn? Get down the boozer!
Choose A Pub
Not all pubs are created equal. You might not want to take your little bundle of joy into the kind of place that has blacked-out windows, where the barman has a cricket bat with a nail sticking out of it secreted under the bar for when things get tasty. If there are bouncers at the door, your little one probably doesn’t need to go there. If you’ve heard rumours of illegal dog-fights in the carpark, steer clear.
But there are loads of wonderfully family-friendly pubs that go out of their way to make parents and children feel incredibly welcome, and plenty of completely average pubs that simply don’t care what you’re doing as long as you buy a pint. Both of these options are great.
Consider A Spoons
You might think of yourself as more of a “fascinating craft ale from a lovely little brewery you probably haven’t heard of” kind of person, but when you’ve got a baby there’s a lot to be said for a Wetherspoon’s, polarising chain as it sometimes is. They’ve all got pram-accessible toilets with changing tables, and you can use the app to order food and drinks from your table – incredibly handy when you have a small sleeping human with you. Without it, going to the bar to order without leaving your baby alone or losing your table becomes a real-life version of that logic problem with the fox, chicken and bag of grain.
Prepare To Improvise
Some pubs don’t have changing tables and some have changing tables but only in the ladies’ toilet, which as a dad can mean improvising. If there’s a bench or a sofa, you can usually just use that, especially if the nappy’s just wet rather than soiled and you can do a swift, efficient switchover. Crawling around on the floor of a pub toilet is nobody’s idea of a good time but that’s sometimes fine, too.
Unless the lights in the toilet are motion-sensitive, of course, and movements that low down aren’t detected, so you’re plunged into darkness midway through an awkwardly messy change. That was just a particularly unfortunate afternoon, I’ll admit. I used the light on my phone, but when the next person came into the toilets and the light came back on, my cries of thanks definitely left him thinking I’d been sitting pooing in the dark.
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Don’t Expect Grief
My daughter has spent time in some really lovely gastropubs and some condemnable shit-holes. For the first few months, I was pre-emptively ready for people to come along and stick their oar in, condemning us for taking a baby to a pub, breastfeeding in public and/or having a drink while doing so – and it never happened. Most people in boozers are too busy putting the world to rights to butt in as much as you might worry they could.
... But Accept It Might Happen
I was walking my wee girl once when she was very young, and it started to rain, so I took shelter, and that’s why I was in a pub at around noon without any other adults – that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. An extremely enthusiastic solo drinker took an interest in us and kept suggesting that I give my daughter (who was going completely apeshit because I had the audacity not to have any breasts) some of my Guinness to calm her down.
He wouldn’t leave it alone, and my initial “Hoho, I expect that would work, don’t think I’ll do it though!” went through six or seven less and less polite iterations. It might not sound that stressful, but soundtracked by a six-week-old screaming in my face, it was. I ended up downing most of my pint in one go and near-shouting “Look, I’ve drank it all, alright? There’s no more fucking beer for the baby, it’s all in my tummy!” The word “tummy” should never be used in anger.
Beware Of Ghosts
Sometimes you might find yourself in a non-chain pub where the toilets are a real pain in the backside. I was once in a pub in Whitechapel, and my daughter’s nappy needed changing. The gents’ toilets were deep in a basement, and the journey down to them felt like something out of ‘Game Of Thrones’. As I changed her nappy, crouched on the dungeon-like floor of this windowless, poorly-lit, subterranean chamber, my daughter looked at something over my shoulder and screamed uncontrollably. Whatever I did, whatever I said, she wouldn’t stop staring at a space behind me, as if there was someone there.
Reader, there was nobody there. If there had been, I would also have needed a nappy. I’ve just looked at Google Maps to find the name of the pub, and there’s no pub there. A pub stood there once, but burned down a hundred years ago… Hang on, no, there it is, whoops! As you were.