December 7, 2010 1:07 pm

Apartment living with a baby

After stumbling across this Ask Metafilter post about approaching parents of a newborn to tell them their baby is making too much noise, it reminded me how absolutely stressed I was about this before bringing Wesley home.

My main point of anxiety revolved around the neighbors not signing up to bring home a newborn even though we did, and I was really worried someone would say something nasty to us about the noise.

Fortunately, Wesley turned out to be a pretty content little fellow and honestly, he cries more now than he ever did as a newborn. Unexplained crying jags? We had our first around 5 or 6 months and it lasted for about ten minutes and I had no idea what to do. He’d never done it before! Every other time he cried, it was a reasonably easily solved problem. (I had it easy. I know. Trust me when I say I do not take this for granted.)

Back to the post: I feel like the answers in that post are mostly good. You can’t stop a newborn from crying, the parents probably want it to stop more than you do, go buy a white noise machine, etc.

This comment and this one both struck a chord with me, however, because a few people suggested asking the parents to move the baby’s crib in order to mitigate the noise and these people say that’s completely reasonable. I disagree.

I understand that bringing home a baby doesn’t give me the right to disturb neighbors in their own home. I agonized over this for weeks and felt dreadful about even bringing him home because we lived in an apartment.

In our situation, had a neighbor actually complained and asked us to move the crib, I would have scoffed at their faces. We still don’t even own an actual crib, and I am not going to spend extra money (to the tune of several hundred dollars) to buy an actual crib so I can move my brand-new infant from our bedroom with us into the LIVING ROOM so that YOU get a better night’s sleep. I’m sorry, but no.

We are raising Wesley the best way we know how, and right now, that involves co-sleeping and responding quickly when he cries. Acquiescing to a neighbor’s request to relocate my baby’s sleeping quarters would have necessitated a drastic change in our parenting style and there’s no way I would have been okay with that. I can guarantee you that separating me from Wesley would have resulted in more crying, not less.

I guess I’m curious what that person feels a good solution would be. I didn’t (and still don’t) think that I should have to put my life on hold until we manage to live in a single-family dwelling. Surely people bring home babies to apartments (or condos!) all the time?

What say you? Are you in an apartment situation? Did you make a point to be in a house before bringing home a baby? Are we total jerks for not doing that?

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9 Comments

  • Amanda says:

    Surely if you make the decision to live in an apartment, you do so with the full recognition that your neighbours may not be the quiet and retiring type?

    I certainly did when I bought my place – I recognised that not all of my neighbours were going to be grey haired retirees watching TV with a mug of Milo, but it was a small trade off for buying somewhere that was a) affordable, b) in a good location and c) the right size for my needs for the next decade.

    As it is, my next door neighbour actually does have a young child – probably around the same age as Wesley. I have no problems with her at all…sometimes I hear her crying when I’m in the hallway, but I can’t hear anything from my apartment at all, unless there’s absolutely no sound within my place (rare – usually the TV, computer, or radio is on).

    So…you know. Non-babied people in apartment blocks should just suck it up. You made the decision to live in a communal type situation in a dense population area, so deal with it. The sound of children is no different to the sound of cars on the street, wild parties from the college guys next door, sirens from fire engines going past, trains on the tracks, etc. It’s part and parcel of the noises that make up city living.

  • Melissa says:

    The way I see it is that no, maybe they didn’t sign up to bring home a newborn, but you might not have signed up to hear their dog barking, the pounding on your ceiling from the party going on overhead, etc. If you’re living in an apartment with neighbors close, you have to learn to accept that there are going to be noises every once in awhile, whether it’s a dog, the party upstairs or a baby crying.

    I’ve had to deal with my fair share of neighbors making noise in the few apartments I’ve lived in and unless they’re drunk and making noise outside of my door, I really don’t see the need to say anything to them.

    Since we brought Andrew home we’ve been living with family, so I was thankful that the crying that came out of my colicky baby was well-tolerated. There’s nothing we could do about it, and believe me, WE were the first to want it to stop! If we’d lived in an apartment with strangers around, I wouldn’t even listen to them if they told me to move the crib or any of tha nonsense. Actually, I probably wouldn’t listen to them simply because I couldn’t hear them over my son’s crying!

    We’re actually going to be moving to a real apartment away from family at the beginning of the year, and yes, I have fears that bringing Andrew and a new baby into that living situation will be stressful, but that’s just how things have to be. With the nature of my husband’s work, there’s no way we could ever buy a house right now to raise our kids in. We don’t stay in one place for more than a year it seems so apartments are just the way we have to go and if anyone has to listen to my crying baby/babies, that’s their problem, not mine! I have so much more to be worried about than what someone might think of my kids’ crying!

  • Hev says:

    Your apartment is your home. They do not have any right to demand you move the baby. Yes, they can ask, & you have the right to say no. If they don’t like it then THEY can move. Your apartment is paid for by YOU not them. Until they pay your bills & cost of living then they have no rights. That is how I see it. Yes, it is considerate to stay quiet, but to change the lifestyle of your child raising I say a big fat huge NO!

  • erin says:

    I’ve never lived in an apartment, but if I did, I certainly would not be concerned about something like that. Any overly obnoxious neighbors who asked me to reorganize my apartment would receive earplugs instead. Babies rarely cry enough to warrant a bedroom shuffle.

  • Caity says:

    Good for you. I think the same way. People who live in apartments know what they’re signing up for and unfortunately other people can make noise.

    I might say something to a neighbor if they came home at 3am drunk making lots of noise every night or something that really isn’t acceptable as an adult… but a baby? I’d never complain about a baby crying or being loud.

  • I think noise is something you kind of have to accept when you live in an apartment. I prefer not to live in apartments because I dislike the idea of hearing other people, and dont like the idea of them having to hear me either. This is why I have always picked commuting over living closer to work / school.

    Either way, we did one time live in a a 4-plex, all with families. I remember I could hear the children playing which never bothered me. However one time I got sick and had a horrible cough and would spend all night up coughing up a storm. My neighbor actually came over and complained that my coughing was disrupting her sleep. I have no clue what she really expected me to do…if I could have stopped I would have long ago.

  • BreAnna says:

    I agree with you and the other commenters. Being aware of having neighbors is an expected part of apartment living. I would say that perhaps if you lease has rules about noise written in then it should be expected that those would be followed, but it isn’t like you are letting Wesley cry for hours at a time so even then the noise regulations wouldn’t be an issue.
    If I ever get pregnant and if it isn’t high risk we’ve talked about having an apartment home birth. That way I can avoid the “bringing home a baby they didn’t sign up for as a neighbor” anxiety. ;)

  • Amanda says:

    I think you’re in the right that you wouldn’t move your baby for someone else. The early years are important, why should you change your parenting style for someone else? People who move into apartments should expect to have noise. Unnecessary noise late at night I feel it’s okay to complain about (a loud party going on at midnight for once, since my city has a noise ordinance for after 10pm). But a baby crying? There’s nothing more you can do about that, than having a dog which barks.

    Some people just don’t understand apartment living, like the neighbors we had before the ones we have currently. They knocked on our floor/their ceiling all the time, but when he was screaming at his wife or son we didn’t say anything … maybe we should have (or called the cops on him for abuse :| ). The current ones have a dog, but that’s part of living in an apartment.

  • Jem says:

    I’ve lived in a noisy apartment and I have to say – a crying baby would be preferable to loud music banging up through the floor every hour of the god damned day.

    Anyway, no, I’m with you – defo wouldn’t move my child to suit someone else. Might suggest they move THEIR bed if it’s that big a deal.