Taking Babies to Blogging Conferences – What is the Proper Etiquette?

While attending BlogHer (my first blogging conference) last year I witnessed many mothers wearing and holding their babies in sessions, keynotes, and parties.  I found it awesome and refreshing that these mothers were welcome with their little ones at the conference and could share the same experiences as the other attendees while still caring for their babies.  Of course, some mothers did have to sneak out of a session or two and/or miss a party due to upset, hungry, or sleepy babies, but that was to be expected.  I only sat in two sessions at BlogHer and in both of those classes the babywearing mothers were very considerate regarding stepping out when their babies became too loud or getting squirmy.  It was a happy medium among all attendees from what I could tell at the time.

As I attended more blogging conferences that consisted mostly of mothers, I continued to see mothers with little ones at each event, but some of my experiences sitting in on sessions started to change.  Not all bad, of course, but there were a few instances with mothers who were not phased by their upset children and how it affected the other attendees (including the speakers) in the room.  Having experienced this, I began to wonder what the appropriate rules were regarding bringing babies to a conferences, or if there even were rules in place at all.

Think about the attendee who saves up all year to go to BlogHer, Type A Mom Conference, Mom 2.0 Summit, and the like.  We all know how expensive it is to attend these conferences and sponsorship isn’t available to everyone.  Most attendees pay out of pocket to attend said conferences and although sitting in sessions may not be considered the most valuable element of a conference to everyone, for many it is and those attendees deserve that experience without distraction.  Saying that, mothers also deserve the opportunity to attend a conference with their babies, especially if they are still nursing or wearing their babies, so, how can the two be balanced?

Yes, there will inevitably be squeals from the audience when babies are present and I think, for the most part, attendees in the audience would not flinch at a few baby noises.  I do, however, think a line can be crossed when communication can no longer be had because a baby is upset or becoming distracting, and that is when it becomes unfair to the attendees and speakers.  While it may be obvious to you and I when a mother should exit the room when this occurs, this isn’t always the case.  Because of this, it is almost necessary to lay down rules and maybe have those rules enforced.  It is unfortunate that this issue would need to get to the point of establishing rules, but I’m not sure how else to remedy the issue. I think the fear conference organizers (especially mom blogging conference organizers) have is possibly offending mothers or making them feel singled out by asking them to leave the room.  While we all want mothers to feel welcome with their babies, most of us also want those who choose not to bring their children, and those who do not have children at all, happy and content.  It is a delicate balance that I would not want to be the enforcer of due to the sensitive issue.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

What have been your experiences regarding babies at conferences?

Have you taken your baby to a conference in the past?  If so, what were your experiences in regards to other attendees?

Do you feel like rules should be put into place regarding babies at conferences?  Why or why not?

What do you consider proper etiquette regarding babies at conferences?