National

Stickers help people support parents with babies crying in public

Kyodo

All parents go through the turmoil of their baby crying in a restaurant, on a train or in any public place.

The mom or dad will try to calm the baby, often to no avail, causing some of those disturbed by the ruckus to make a sour face.

After Akiko Shihara, 34, an essayist and mother of two, lived through this experience, she created a sticker showing that the holder is not bothered by a baby’s wail.

When Shihara’s baby once started crying in a restaurant, one of the customers yelled at her.

“I understand that there are people who feel annoyed. But I thought maybe there are others who aren’t,” Shihara said.

But showing support is another matter.

Two years ago, Shihara saw a mother with a wailing baby in a Tokyo coffee shop. The woman was trying unsuccessfully to calm the baby down, well aware of the eyes on her.

Shihara wanted to tell the mother that it was OK, but she was too shy.

That was when it hit her that making a sticker might be the answer, just like a maternity badge that shows the holder is an expectant mother.

Shihara consulted with the Woman.excite website portal, which was fascinated with the idea.

With the phrase “I don’t mind the wailing” and an illustration of a baby, they made a small sticker so the holder can apply it on their smartphone and other items.

The website portal launched a campaign in May 2016 saying it would give out the sticker to 30 people. To its surprise, 900 people applied.

It then launched a webpage in October dedicated to the topic, allowing readers to post comments and click on a button for support.

They were even more surprised to receive more than 1,900 comments and 8,800 clicks.

“Everyone, at one time or another, cried in public when they were a kid. It doesn’t make sense to say no to other kids! People should change their mindset,” commented a man in his 30s.

“I’m so let down by people who make a face when they feel annoyed (by a baby crying). I’m rooting for moms and dads out there!” a woman in her 20s posted.

The number of companies supporting the idea has topped 40 and more than 70 stores nationwide are distributing the stickers for free.

But it is also true that some people are annoyed by crying babies. For instance, day care facilities at times clash with neighbors who complain about the noise.

“It’s not for people who are bothered by the babies but to provide a tool for people who want to show their support,” said an official at Women.excite. “By expressing support, we hope parents will feel more at ease.”

Shihara agrees.

“I hope society becomes more tolerant toward each other,” she said. “And I hope future parents feel encouraged to have children.”

Masami Ohinata, dean of Keisen University in Tokyo, praised the move, saying there are a lot people who want to show their support for parents but don’t know how. “It’s important for children to feel loved. And if mothers are having fun, so will the child.”

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