Meera Pal, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - She may be the apple of her mother's eye, but there is a growing segment of the population that does not want to see that baby girl in its first-class airline cabin or fine-dining establishment.
Across the country, restaurants and other establishments are following in the footsteps of Malaysia Airlines, which recently announced it would no longer allow babies in first-class cabins. While the decision sparked a major debate, it also may have started a new trend.
Following Malaysia Airlines, Dublin-based RyanAir announced it will offer "Child Free" flights beginning in October. RyanAir says its decision was based on a survey of customers who said they "would pay higher fares to avoid other people's children."
In recent months, several restaurants across the country also have instituted bans on children. Pennsylvania restaurant McDain's no longer welcomes kids under the age of 6. Chicago-based restaurant Sprout has banned kids from its Sunday brunch. North Carolina-based restaurant Olde Salty went as far as posting a "Screaming children will not be tolerated" sign in its window. And, Brooklyn bar The Double Windsor has banned babies after 5 p.m.
A group on Facebook titled "Ban Kids From Restaurants" has gathered more than 2,800 members who agree with the idea that children of a certain age do not belong in nice restaurants.
An Internet search did not immediately turn up any D.C.-area restaurants with outright bans on children. One forum looking for child-free restaurants noted that the restaurant The Inn at Little Washington may be a good place to start.
However, Rachel Hayden, director of public relations for the Inn, says the restaurant does not ban children.
"What we do is explain to them that the dining experience is 2 1/2 to 3 hours. For most people that's a long time to expect a 2-year-old or 4-year-old, or even an older kid to sit through a meal. Most people at that point decide not to bring their kids into that."
The Inn does offer babysitting services for guests who wish to dine at the award-winning restaurant without their children. For those who do decide to bring their kids, Hayden says the kitchen does offer a children's menu.
Earlier this year, Arlington County considered prohibiting children under the age of 8 from the county's nine dog parks at the request of two of its dog park sponsor groups.
The county Board of Supervisors ultimately decided not to institute the rule, says Susan Kalish, director of marketing and communications for the county's Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources.
She says no one has gotten hurt yet and the county hopes to keep it that way by increasing public education efforts. The efforts are a combination of parents teaching their children how to behave around strange dogs and dog owners keeping an eye on their dogs in public places.
She notes that Fairfax County and Alexandria do have age restrictions at their dog parks.
Fairfax County does not allow children under 8 in the off-leash dog area while children between 9 and 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Dog handlers must be 16 years of age or older.
Alexandria also requires children under the age of 16 to be accompanied by an adult when inside a fenced dog area.
Interestingly enough, D.C. was recently named the best city in the country for families to live by Parenting Magazine. The city was chosen for its history, plethora of museums and great family-friendly restaurants.
What do you think? Are kid-free restaurants and airlines a good idea? Post a comment in this story. Join the conversation on Twitter, using #WTOPKidFree or on WTOP's Facebook page.
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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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