What would you do? Would you help a crying newborn baby left alone, or respect a parents choice?

I got out of the car at Kindy and while standing door open to let my daughter out, I heard a screaming baby.

My daughter ran to the footpath to wait for me and as I turned to see where the shrill cry was coming from, I realised it was from inside the car next to me.

There was a sun protector screen on the window so I couldn’t see through, but as I made my way to the footpath to join my daughter I realised there wasn’t an adult in the front seat.  Putting the pieces together it dawned on me that this baby had been left, while mum or dad took another child in for the Kindy drop off.

It was then that I froze. Literally froze. I was suddenly in a moment of torment as the scream (and I mean that brand-new infant scream) kept on and on. My motherly instinct had literally taken over my body and I was drawn to this baby clearly in need.

Do I go to the aid of the baby? Open the car door and shake a toy or something until mum or dad returns? If they knew their baby was so upset, would they want me to do this?

No, I walked away very slowly with my daughter actually pulling me along to get inside.

PhotoInc via istockphoto

Once inside, I felt ill. This crying baby certainly wasn’t feeling secure in this moment.

Fortunately there are windows above the lockers so as my daughter wrote her name to sign in, I was able to stand at the window and look out at the car…mum or dad must be coming soon?…Surely soon?

Nope.

From the window I was relieved to see movement in the middle seat – a school age child in uniform obviously waiting for their turn to be dropped at school.

At least 5 mins later or more mum arrived back to the car.

I know plenty of parents who leave kids in the car to run in to pay the petrol where they can keep an eye on the car from a distance, or older siblings in the car for Kindy run drop off.  But is it perhaps a bit different to leaving an infant for such a long period of time – and out of view?

It is actually a criminal offence in Australia to leave a child anywhere – regardless for how long or what for.

Mums and Dads do it tough. We all handle things differently and have different ideas of what’s ok based on the immediate situation, the child, and many other factors in the moment.

But I really feel like I was in a situation of turning my back on a helpless child in need – I walked away. And I’m not sure this was the right thing.

Should I have attempted to soothe the baby – even if that meant breaking in to the car? Or was leaving the mother to make the choice of what she saw best for her own child the right thing to do?

~ alisha

8 thoughts on “What would you do? Would you help a crying newborn baby left alone, or respect a parents choice?

  1. Oh Alisha, I felt ill reading this – you poor thing, what a difficult situation. I too would have felt very very torn, but i think you did the right thing, you took responsibility and kept a close eye on the car. I know how tempting it is to ‘just duck in’ somewhere, but can never go though with it, and could not imagine doing it with a newborn. x

    • Hi Emma. It was the weirdest feeling – my body was actually taken over and I just couldn’t move- I’m sure if my daughter wasn’t there busting to get in to kindy I would have ‘casually’ hung out on the footpath! ~ alisha

  2. Alisha, I was in a similar situation, also at Kindy last year. I did a kindy dropoff and found the car next to me left with a baby and a toddler in seatbelts. The door was left open for air (it was a Tirago so this did not get in the way of other cars) however I wondered if this same parent would leave their wallet with $500 cash flashing on the front seat with the door open? What is of more value if taken?

    I totally agree that the servo is a sticky one but you can park in the shade, lock the doors and keep in view for the short payment time. Unattended in no view with no security is not too clever.

    • Thanks for sharing Reg. I used to go to a great servo where they have service at the pump (we moved so not near this one anymore)- you don’t even need to leave the car – so great for mums on the run. There should be more of them, they would do a roaring trade!

  3. I have had the same thing happen to me Alisha.. and the only thing I could think of doing (that wasn’t too obtrusive) was to go and tell the centre director (describing the car), she announced it and the mother went out there quickly! (thankfully 🙂

    • Hi Pamela. Great idea. I actually did casually mention to one of the girls working in the room, but she was busy with other parents and children I don’t think she quite registered. I think if the mum hadn’t returned to the car by the time I was to move away from the window, I would have asked them to let the parent know their child was upset. Boy was I relieved when she turned up!

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