Casual friend leaving sleeping toddler in car - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We were at a friend's house yesterday afternoon and a mutual aquaintance was there as well. This mama has a 4yo, who was running around playing with dd, and a 1 yo, who was nowhere in sight.

We ate lunch and were sitting around talking, and I asked who had her toddler today? She answered "Oh, she was sleeping so I left her out in the car. I'll go check on her here in a minute."

Now, the cars were all parked over on the side of the house, nowhere in sight of the room we were in. It was probably about 50 degrees out.

I said "What? She's in the car? Oh my god, please go get her. I'm sure it's alright to put her down in one of the bedrooms and she can keep sleeping." She said "Oh, she would wake up and she's really grumpy today. I'm just going to let her sleep."

I went over and told dh what she said. As he and I were talking about what to do she went out to check on her daughter. She came back in and the baby was just wailing unconsolably. I suspect that she'd woken up alone and been crying in the car for a while based on how exhausted and red-faced she looked . The mother just seemed annoyed and kept bouncing her on her knee. Our friend kept trying to get the baby something to eat and asking if she needed to lay down, or was she okay? The mom just rolled her eyes and said "She doesn't want anything today. She's just grumpy."

I got called into work right after that and we had to leave. But I'm just miserable thinking about that child. In our state it's illegal to leave a child in a car if 'potential dangerous conditions' exist. I can't see how a 1 yo alone and out of sight or hearing could be anything other than potentially dangerous.

I don't know this woman well at all - have just met her a couple of times. I will see her again soon, I'm sure, due to mutual friends and such. What would really result in a positive change? For me to talk to her directly and try to get her to see how hurtful and dangerous that kind of thing is? Or send CPS over to her house and scare her?

She seems affectionate and connected with her 4 yo. It was very odd and very disturbing.
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#2 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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i have 2 or 3 times done that (left sleeping fussy baby in the car sleeping) but i RAN inside, grabbed a diet coke and a book and sat on the porch (only feet from the open car doors) and relaxed. I can't imagine just going in, eating, ect. that seems to indicate a mamma who is a little disconnected from her kids
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#3 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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In our state it's illegal to leave a child in a car if 'potential dangerous conditions' exist. I can't see how a 1 yo alone and out of sight or hearing could be anything other than potentially dangerous.
A 1-yr old strapped in a car seat in a locked car parked off the street beside the house in a residential neighbourhood when the weather is neither danerously hot nor dangerously cold doesn't seem likely to qualify, to me. Bad parenting, perhaps - esp. since the child was so upset - but I'm not sure a police officer or CPS worker would conclude it was dangerous.

As much as I don't like the idea of what she did, in your shoes I would conclude that there was nothing I could do about it that would be really effective, except if it happened again to again express my discomfort and pointedly go out once or twice to check on the child.
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#4 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:32 PM
 
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that seems to indicate a mamma who is a little disconnected from her kids

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#5 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:42 PM
 
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I do it all of the time & I'm pretty darned attached. I park in my driveway & if it's warm, I leave the windows down. I don't leave anyone in the car if it's too cold or too hot. I go out every 10 minutes & peek in on them (at this point it's usually always Ds, but Dd2 occasionally konks out too.) I can see my van from the kitchen where I spend most of my time. I don't feel that it's at all risky in my situation & my kids *need* the sleep & I won't risk waking them up by moving them.

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#6 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:42 PM
 
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I have to agree that it doesn't really sound like "dangerous conditions" as well.

I used to do this with my ds when he was little. I had to drive him around to get him to sleep for his nap and if you even looked at him he would wake up so I couldn't just bring him in. Most times I would just sit in the car with a book. But some days, when it was nice out, I would go into the house. I always put the baby monitor in there though. Also my car was right next to my front door...like it's so close you can't open the car door all the way or it hits the wall of the house and we live in military housing so I do feel it's a little safer. But yeah I never would have done it if I didn't think I could hear ds when he woke (and FTR he never woke up screaming and confused at being alone).

If you really want to stop her though you could just threaten to report her. I had someone threaten me and you better bet I never did it again. I don't know if they were serious (they were on a message board and I'm not even sure they had all my info or not) but I sure as heck wasn't going to chance it.

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#7 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:43 PM
 
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A 1-yr old strapped in a car seat in a locked car parked off the street beside the house in a residential neighbourhood when the weather is neither danerously hot nor dangerously cold doesn't seem likely to qualify, to me. Bad parenting, perhaps - esp. since the child was so upset - but I'm not sure a police officer or CPS worker would conclude it was dangerous. .
ITA. From my own experience, the police probably won't be interested, and you'd be wasting everyone's time. As far as CPS is concerned, calling them would be waaaaay out of proportion. Poor family, having CPS get involved in their lives over something like this. `CPS imo is for far more serious issues of neglect or abuse, not what amounts to maybe a poorer parenting choice than one of us might make.

I know the 'child left in car' discussion does the rounds here, but honestly,, although I wouldnt do it myself, I think that the seriousness/danger aspect is blown way out of proportion here. And ime the police think so too, unless the weather is extreme, or the engine running, or the child loose in the car.

My advice would be to leave it well alone. It sounds like this is not a close friend. If it is, and it bothers you, talk to her face to face . If not, just let it be.
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#8 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:46 PM
 
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That's awful. I'd probably tell her so and point out how terrified her child must have been to wake up and find no one around.
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#9 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by blessed View Post
I said "What? She's in the car? Oh my god, please go get her."
Already you let her know that you consider that behavior to be innapropriate, and she'll probably think twice before doing it again.

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#10 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm trying to wrap my head around some of the inconsistencies I'm seeing. How is that leaving your sleeping child in a locked car parked in full view as you run in a convenience store to buy milk is dangerous. Yet leaving a child strapped into a chair, out of sight or hearing, for an hour while you socialize it just okay.

I must confess, I feel like I stumbled onto a Parenting forum instead of MDC. I can't imagine, in my wildest of dreams, how a mother could leave her baby alone and unattended to like that. Of course the baby is going to wake up and be terrified. If you were looking out every few minutes and her time awake and frightened was limited, the maybe I could see (but not really, to be honest). But to leave the baby while you eat lunch and sit around chatting it up? That baby could have been screaming for 45 minutes for all we know. It would be very easy for a distraught child that age to vomit and choke while strapped into a carseat. Not to mention the fear and anxiety she must have felt. Which is what really bothers me.
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#11 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:03 PM
 
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I think I would be uncomfortable with the car being out of site. How long was the mom inside without checking on the babe? I've left my kids asleep in the driveway in nice weather. I check on them a lot and we're off the road a ways. So that doesn't seem that strange to me. But calling the police or cps seems extreme in my opinion. I know I hate the idea of crying it out, but would you call cps on someone over it. In reality, what this mom did doesn't sound like anything that different from that.


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#12 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:09 PM
 
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I'm trying to wrap my head around some of the inconsistencies I'm seeing. How is that leaving your sleeping child in a locked car parked in full view as you run in a convenience store to buy milk is dangerous. Yet leaving a child strapped into a chair, out of sight or hearing, for an hour while you socialize it just okay.

I must confess, I feel like I stumbled onto a Parenting forum instead of MDC. I can't imagine, in my wildest of dreams, how a mother could leave her baby alone and unattended to like that. Of course the baby is going to wake up and be terrified. If you were looking out every few minutes and her time awake and frightened was limited, the maybe I could see (but not really, to be honest). But to leave the baby while you eat lunch and sit around chatting it up? That baby could have been screaming for 45 minutes for all we know. It would be very easy for a distraught child that age to vomit and choke while strapped into a carseat. Not to mention the fear and anxiety she must have felt. Which is what really bothers me.
I don't think there are inconsistencies. I"ve personally said the same thing on all these threads. Personally, I wouldn't leave my kid to go buy milk either, but I also wouldn't call the police or CPS on someone else who made that decision.

ITA that it is sad for the poor baby. But then, babies are left every night to cry themselves off to sleep like that in a crib, and that choice is considered a good one even by many professionals. I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who did this, but neither would I call CPS on them. My point was, anyway, that if you did, the police would probably not do anything, and nor would CPS. And no matter what my opinion is on a baby left to cry in a car (or anywhere), I would not wish CPS on a family who made this choice, even if CPS or the police would do something.

I personally have been consistent every time I respond on one of these threads, and my advice would be to say something to her face if it bothers you, or not to socialise again.
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#13 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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I think I would be uncomfortable with the car being out of site. How long was the mom inside without checking on the babe? I've left my kids asleep in the driveway in nice weather. I check on them a lot and we're off the road a ways. So that doesn't seem that strange to me. But calling the police or cps seems extreme in my opinion. I know I hate the idea of crying it out, but would you call cps on someone over it. In reality, what this mom did doesn't sound like anything that different from that.
Yep, rather like leaving a baby to cry in a crib if they wake half-hour sooner than they are 'supposed to'. I know people who'd do that and think nothing of it, but I'd not dream of calling CPS on them. I just don't choose to be friends with them.
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#14 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:21 PM
 
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Really? It only illegal in what, bad weather? It seems dangerous in and of itself (and I'm a mama of 2 under 2 so I can definitely understand the inclination).
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#15 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:21 PM
 
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I'm actually really surprised at the responses here too, blessed. I've seen the freak-outs at the idea of parents leaving their children in the car while they run in the store real quick to grab a drink (and could see the car and their child), or the parents have left their child/ren in the car while they ran into a house for a couple minutes.

I don't know if there's anything you can do to prove the point to that mother that what she did was wrong. Yes, I'm saying that what she did was wrong. Leaving her child (a one year old!) strapped in a car out of sight for an extended amount of time is WRONG and neglectful, IMO!! So many things could have happened. You displayed your displeasure and concern over what she did, and hopefully she'll think twice about it next time. I don't think calling the cops or calling CPS would be helpful or a good idea, but honestly - I would be tempted. It feels like there should be something you should do, ykwim? Thankfully the baby was okay (technically, you know, besides being terrified ).

I'm against CIO - but usually the child is in a crib, in the home, easily accessible to the parents - not left out in a car where a stranger could steal the child (or the car), out of earshot and out of view. So to me, this is totally different that CIO - the circumstances are totally different.
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#16 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:29 PM
 
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I'm against CIO - but usually the child is in a crib, in the home, easily accessible to the parents - not left out in a car where a stranger could steal the child (or the car), out of earshot and out of view. So to me, this is totally different that CIO - the circumstances are totally different.

Honestly, cio in a crib or in a car seems similar to me. The child's parent doesn't come when the child needs them. IF the car was in an area where it could be stolen, then yes, I would consider that a different situation. Of course I also consider cio dangerous to children, but I still wouldn't call the police or cps.


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#17 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:41 PM
 
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I'm trying to wrap my head around some of the inconsistencies I'm seeing. How is that leaving your sleeping child in a locked car parked in full view as you run in a convenience store to buy milk is dangerous. Yet leaving a child strapped into a chair, out of sight or hearing, for an hour while you socialize it just okay.

I must confess, I feel like I stumbled onto a Parenting forum instead of MDC. I can't imagine, in my wildest of dreams, how a mother could leave her baby alone and unattended to like that. Of course the baby is going to wake up and be terrified. If you were looking out every few minutes and her time awake and frightened was limited, the maybe I could see (but not really, to be honest). But to leave the baby while you eat lunch and sit around chatting it up? That baby could have been screaming for 45 minutes for all we know. It would be very easy for a distraught child that age to vomit and choke while strapped into a carseat. Not to mention the fear and anxiety she must have felt. Which is what really bothers me.
I agree with you 100%! I absolutely think this mother was neglecting her child by doing what she did (as you described the situation).

Whether or not the child woke up would not have changed my opinion of the situation. It was outrageous to say the least. She should know better. She couldn't clearly hear or see her child.

What would have happened if someone stole the car? Or the baby woke up right after she got in the house (happened in this circumstance)?
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#18 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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I've done the same thing, but hooked up a baby monitor so that I would hear ds the moment he wakes up. Next time you see this mom and she has left her dc asleep in a vehicle could you suggest such a thing?

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#19 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:48 PM
 
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I'm trying to wrap my head around some of the inconsistencies I'm seeing. How is that leaving your sleeping child in a locked car parked in full view as you run in a convenience store to buy milk is dangerous. Yet leaving a child strapped into a chair, out of sight or hearing, for an hour while you socialize it just okay.

I must confess, I feel like I stumbled onto a Parenting forum instead of MDC. I can't imagine, in my wildest of dreams, how a mother could leave her baby alone and unattended to like that. Of course the baby is going to wake up and be terrified. If you were looking out every few minutes and her time awake and frightened was limited, the maybe I could see (but not really, to be honest). But to leave the baby while you eat lunch and sit around chatting it up? That baby could have been screaming for 45 minutes for all we know. It would be very easy for a distraught child that age to vomit and choke while strapped into a carseat. Not to mention the fear and anxiety she must have felt. Which is what really bothers me.
I think it's a stretch to say that all kids would be terrified. My ds was never scared. Usually I went out there to find him babbling and playing with the toys he had near him in his seat. I know lots of moms on MDC never leave their kids' side because they are high needs or whatever but some of us do have really mellow kids (and my payback is my super high needs dd lol) who honestly don't mind being alone sometimes

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#20 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 08:53 PM
 
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Well, hm.. I guess I am one of those that does leave the baby in the car if I will be gone for three minutes. When I have to run into DH's work to drop off/pick up something, she stays if she is asleep or content and awake (he has cameras in his office,one of which watches the parking lot). Same thing if I have to run in the house to get the check book or whatever. However, I think it sucks to leave the babe in the car for an extended amount of time. It would be terrible to be stuck in the seat, without any noises from mom, and then freak out and still be stuck in the seat.


So my opinion is : a couple of minutes tops, just fine. Long enough to eat and hang out, downright stinky.
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#21 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:12 PM
 
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Sorry I can't leave this alone. I just wanted to say if I saw your car in a parking lot or on the street with an unattended child inside, I would call 911 immediately.

It is one thing to be standing a few feet away while you wait for your child to wake up. Clearly I wouldn't call because I would see a mother attending to her child. It is a whole other thing to be leaving a wide awake (or sleeping) baby in a car alone while you run into a place (cameras in the lot or not).

Those of you leaving children unattended in your car need to read this

There is no way this is a safe practice. Above and beyond the "CIO" attachment issue.
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#22 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:18 PM
 
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My friend used to do that and she is the most AP mom you will find. I didnt think it was the worst thing in the world - maybe because she is from small town Wisconsin and she didnt think anything would happen?

I wouldnt feel comfortable leaving a baby on the street, but I have done it in my own gated driveway plenty of times. I dont think its anything to call the police over, maybe thats just how she was raised and doesnt know any better? I mean odds are the child would be fine...

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#23 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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oh actually I guess I have done it, when I used to leave my 2yo in the car while I ran into dd1s preschool to get her, and also I have done it to run into the gas station or ATM. Both times the car was in my view the whole time.

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#24 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:28 PM
 
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OP, I would have been totally blown away, appalled and disconcerted just like you. I have never left DS in the car alone out of my view and I don't know anyone who does that. I can see where some of you are coming from though. I too, think calling CPS is probably out of line, but hearing about something like this just makes me want to cry. The little one must have been so scared.
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#25 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:35 PM
 
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Personally, I wouldn't leave a child in a car by himself or herself, no matter what age, at least until they are teenageres, but I can see how, for example, one of the posteres said she will leave her child sleeping in the car and sit on the porch where near the car. But to leave a child out of sight and out of earshot and where strangers could potentially have access to that child, long enough to sit down and eat lunch and then gab with your friends for a while, all without checking on that child? Absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible parenting. I would have been appalled.

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#26 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:35 PM
 
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My ex-SIL did this all the time when her kids were smaller. She just couldn't bear to wake them up from their naps, as they were bad sleepers and very out of sorts when they woke up. I think it's dangerous, and I told her so. She left the car running so the heat could be on, so the door was unlocked. I would never do it, nor would I leave my child in the car to run into pay for gas.

Still, I don't think it's a matter for CPS, and I doubt they would intervene. If it happened again, I would personally not hesitate to say how dangerous I thought it was, but that's as far as I'd go.
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#27 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:42 PM
 
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I think it's a pretty crappy idea to leave the baby unattended in a place you can't hear them. But I don't think it is CPS material.
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#28 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:45 PM
 
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OP, I would have been totally blown away, appaled and disconcerted just like you. I have never left DS in the car alone out of my view and I don't know anyone who does that. I can see where some of you are coming from though. I too, think calling CPS is probably out of line, but hearing about something like this just makes me want to cry. The little one must have been so scared.
Me too. The OP made me do this

I can't believe how many posters are responding here. IMO it's NEVER okay to leave a child in a car out of site not even for a second! To say it was a safe residential neighbourhood means nothing. Cars are stolen from these unsuspecting neighbourhoods all the time - Don't be so naive.

The biggest difference, to me, between CIO in a crib and a car is generally you can hear the child in the crib crying but it would not seem this is the case here ALSO, the child is not strapped down to the crib where he/she is in the car. If the child were to vomit from fright he/she could not roll away from it as they could potentially do in a crib. In a car, the likelihood of dying from this choking would be increased too much for my comfort.

I'm personally appalled.

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#29 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:51 PM
 
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I was at a park last summer when a mom came and parked her stroller nearby. My friends and I were hanging out and after a while we realized that the stroller, covered in a blanket, contained a crying child. We had not really seen which mom this one belonged to. We had kinda ignored it. So, we go over and uncover the stroller and there is a one year old just wailing. We did not know what to do so we stood nearby and uncovered her completely and hoped someone would notice her. We were discussing whether we should call 911 or not when a woman at the swings, clear across the playground, saw us and started running over. It was her child. She was swinging the older child. After she left, we dissed her completely. We were so close to calling 911 on her. If they had come, she would have had some explaining to do. Someone could have just walked off with her stroller and no one would have paid much attention.


I say never leave a child in a car or anywhere out of your sight for more than a split second. If they are sleeping, go home.
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#30 of 82 Old 01-20-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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I see both sides of this. One of my kids still sleeps w/me and the other two w/papa.

I can see the sense of triumph w/having them fall asleep in the car. The thing is, I never did well w/that b/c I didn't want to move them but I couldn't leave them. So it was a bad nap b/c I stood there the whole time (so much for relaxing while the baby was chilled out and sleepin). So I stood there too, and waited. and waited and waited. (Don't they always take the mother of all naps in the car seat when you want them up?!).

We don't do cio. We don't like that here. We DO like sleep, however. We encourage sleep!

I think the mama just sounded tired, and proud that the child had finally fallen asleep and didn't think it through beyond the fact that the babe was asleep. She didn't think of all the dangers. She thought of 10 minutes in a row to herself. Cut her some slack, but then, you know, next time you see her, maybe bring it up...wasn't that nap great? Would babe have not stayed asleep in the house, as it was so cold that day? Wouldn't someone else have held the babe if it had woken up? And so on and so fourth.
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