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Do you ever leave your child alone in the car whilst you run errands?

By 11:46:00 ,

I recently stumbled across a forum on Mumsnet where a mum had posted that her husband found someone had left a baby in a car - what followed was an interesting discussion as to if it was acceptable to leave a baby in a car and if so how long for and in what conditions. You can read the thread for yourself here but it made me think about what I normally do and if it is acceptable.

The thing is that I do leave Cotswold Kid in the car whilst I pop out and do errands. If I'm getting petrol I try to choose a petrol station which has a glass window so that I can clearly see the car whilst I'm paying but this isn't always possible and I do sometimes use the ones where the view is obstructed.

I have left him asleep in a supermarket car park (like the one in the picture above) whilst I ran in and got a sandwich and a birthday card.

I've also left him in the car parked outside the post office whilst I sent a parcel.

I also once left him in a retail park whilst I went into Argos to pick up a reservation one weekday morning - but when I realised that I had a longer wait than I was expecting I went back and got him.

Of course the one thing that all the above occurrences had in common was the amount of time I was away. On every single occasion I expected to be in and out of the shop in less than 5 minutes and in most cases I was. As every parent knows, going out is like a military operation and in my head I was thinking that by the time I'd unstrapped CK, put together the travel system, strapped him in and grabbed his bag and then reversed the routine when returning, I could have probably been in and out several times.

Certainly when CK was a baby he would regularly fall asleep in the car and so wouldn't even know I was gone half the time and as I have tinted windows in the rear of my car people can't see in unless you stand in front of my car so you wouldn't even know he was in there.

Of course there have been the odd occasion when I've come back and found his face red with tears but that's the rarity. I think that now he is a toddler, he is used to going to the petrol station, knows he will be left but that I always come back so he doesn't often get upset and can quite often still see me whilst I'm paying anyway. Also with a lot of fuel stations having pay at pump this has meant that leaving him isn't a very regular occurrence - unless I'm popping in for a pint of milk.

I don't find the weather to be an issue - especially living in the UK but on the rare day that we do have some warmer weather I do leave a window open for him and if I think its dangerously hot then I do take him out.

So to sum up - I think it's acceptable to leave a baby or toddler in a car but for no more than 5 minutes and not in very hot weather - I certainly wouldn't leave him to go into the supermarket and do a weekly shop and I don't think he'd want me to either as he loves nothing more than sitting in the trolley when we go shopping .

It's just my opinion of course but what do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. I see your point of view and understand why you do a 5 min pop out- I'm the most mellow chilled out Mama so this doesn't come from a place of judgment. For me, I don't leave my son under any circumstances. Thinking about this- it's because I lived in a country that had a lot of conflict, growing up tragedies occurred often and daily. So much so that it became the norm which has definitely influenced my decision on this. It's probably irrational now I don't live in that country anymore but I guess habits and memories don't fade easily :) #marvmondays

    1. Thank you for your comment :-) - I can understand based on your previous experiences why you wouldn't leave your son and I think that you just have to do what's right for you and what you feel comfortable with.

  2. Petrol station yes, supermarket no. Parked outside a post office?? I like to be able to see the car even if I'm not actually looking at it. But I've got three kids and I think it gets a bit different when you've got older or multiple kids. Unless it's raining, I would crack a window though as it can get hot really quick in a car even on a cool day. I'll go in places though with none of the stuff, no buggy, no bag etc, just grab toddler on my hip then it's not really as complicated a task to take them with you.

    1. Hi Ann, thanks for reading - That's a very interesting comment - the post office is a country one and the door was open so I could see the car. I do try not to leave him out of sight and it is very very rare that I do - it has gotten easier to bring him with me now that he's walking so I don't need the buggy and just grab the bag - then if he misbehaves I pop him on my hip.

  3. My first impression would be NO WAY! Having said that in situations like getting petrol, you don't really have the choice or you take the kids out with you?

  4. This is always going to spark a lot of debate. I do occasionally leave my kids in the car- only where I feel it's safe to do so and ideally can see the car. Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays

  5. I have to say that I wouldn't. I use pay at the pump petrol stations or take him with me and always have. everyome has to parent the way that they choose though. Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

  6. I've seen threads on MN about this too, and also about whether it's okay to leave them asleep in the house & pop out. There's always a lot of varied views! Personally, no I wouldn't. I wouldn't leave a baby or young child alone in a car or house for even a few minutes. I think petrol station is the only one where I can see the case for not taking them across the forecourt, particularly if you have more than one, and you can see them constantly. Still don't know that I would actually leave them though, and would definitely do pay at pump if possible. But plenty of people feel differently, and it really comes down to what you are personally comfortable with & feel is safe & justifiable. #MarvMondays