I was a grad student at Brigham Young University, which has a very high marriage rate, and a large number of grad students (if not most) were parents.
A couple of different parents brought their newborn child to class for a semester (an undergraduate class once and a graduate class the other time).
Some people felt uncomfortable or distracted by the child. I thought the parents did a great job, and soothed the child whenever it was fussy.
After a few semesters that it happened, teachers started putting 'No babies allowed in the classroom' on the syllabus.
Many of these parents had only one semester left, and had no access to childcare for such a young infant.
How should this have been handled to everyone's satisfaction? If babies were not allowed, how and when should this have been communicated to the parents?
( 3 months ago )
This strikes me as fundamentally a matter of opinion, but for what it is worth, here is mine:
A baby in a classroom is not the same as a baby on an airplane. If a baby on an airplane cries, there is no escape and nothing one can do. If a baby in a classroom cries, the parents can quietly slip out through a door into the hallway and try to soothe the baby there. I think as a practical matter most parents would prefer not to have to bring a baby with them to class, so I would give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they do not have better alternatives. If so, it seems to me that the appropriate and humane thing to do would be as supportive and understanding as possible.
Rather than try to ban babies from the classroom or write an explicit policy into the syllabus, it would probably be reasonable to have a private conversation with the students at the beginning of the semester. Let them know that they are welcome to bring their children with them so long as it does not become a distraction to other students, and perhaps suggest that they sit on an aisle seat, not far from an exit, so that they can slip out discretely if and when it is necessary.