Social media is full of parenting do's and don'ts (for better or worse). But one recent TikTok of a baby rolling around on the floor at a mall food court is sparking outrage on social media.
The clip appeared on TikTok last month and was posted by a user who goes by @wclipsto.
The video, which has now gone viral, begins with a close-up of the poster. "Girl, you've got to be kidding me," says the narrator. It then pans to a baby, lying on the floor of a mall food court, while two adults sit at a nearby table. "Lazy lady lays her baby on the floor," reads the caption and text overlay.
It's worth mentioning that there appears to be a man in the video, too, and that putting the burden on women to make all the child care decisions only increases their mental load and mom-shaming.
"Are they for real for real or for fake?" the person asks. "Like, real life?"
Yes, it's real life. The camera continues to focus on the infant playing with their rattle on the floor. The video has more than 130 comments, most of which were pretty brutal.
"That's so sad. That poor child, and like always, nobody said anything," one person said. "This boils my blood," another lamented. "I would have [gone] up to them and said something. That's unacceptable," another said.
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Parents, especially moms, can constantly feel like they are placed in no-win situations. Breastfeed in public, and people look at you or tell you to cover up. Formula-feed, and you're "taking the easy way out." Work full-time, and you're abandoning your kid. Stay home, and you're not showing them women can do anything. It never ends.
Despite the mom-shaming, does TikTok happen to have a point on this one?
"Only after becoming a parent have I learned not to judge other parents because, as a spectator, you can never have a full picture of a situation," says Vivek Cherian, M.D., an internal medicine physician affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical System. Dr. Cherian points out that these may not have been the child's parents, but rather the babysitters or other family members.
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Regardless of who they were, Dr. Cherian doesn't think it's the best idea.
"Under normal circumstances, you'd safely assume the floor of any public place is not the most hygienic surface," he says. "On top of that, you sprinkle in a global pandemic with a contagious delta variant spreading like wildfire. Why risk exposure for an unmasked, unvaccinated child?"
Next time, it may be best to eat at home or put the child in a high chair or stroller. But to Dr. Cherian's point, TikTok may not be the best place to judge people's caregiving strategies. And posting a video of an infant without their adults' consent isn't exactly responsible either.