Can you leave your baby in the car while paying for petrol?

It's not an offence to leave your baby in the car while you pay for petrol - but there's a lot of debate from mums on whether it's OK to do it or not

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When MoominMumma posted a question about leaving your baby in the car while you pay for petrol on our forum, it stirred up quite the debate.

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She asked: “What do you do with your baby or small child when you fill your car up with fuel?

“I have read articles before where something happened to the child and the parent was getting negative press for having left them in the car – but do you really take a baby out of the car when you nip in to pay?

“I know a lot of fuel pumps are pay at pump now but some are not.”

Random question it might be, but lots of mums had something to say about it – on Facebook as well as our forum community, probably because it’s something most people with a baby and a car have to deal with at some point.

Off the bat, we should say it’s not an offence per se in the UK to leave your baby in a car. In fact, there is no legal age limit for leaving a child on their own.

However, it is an offence to leave a child alone if this puts them at risk.

So, what do our mums do? There was definitely a mixed a bag as far as this topic’s concerned. Here’s what they told us…

The mums who leave their babies in the car to pay for petrol

“Yep [I do]!!! And back in the day before pay at the pump I still left them,” Claire T tells us. “If that makes me a rubbish mum then so be it!!!

“Fortunately they’re still here to tell you their psychologically damaging tale of abandonment.”

Is there a sense of it being totally impractical to take your child with you to pay? Especially if you have more than one, like Cat S who says:

“I have twin babies and a 4 year old. Of course I do and no I’m not a rubbish parent for doing so.

“It would be more dangerous trying to negotiate the garage forecourt with them all.”

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And finally, another point on the practicality of it all from Helen T: “Seriously? Like I’m going to wake up a sleeping baby for the sake of 2 minutes?

“The car is locked and he’s in my eye line the whole time. What would be the benefit of hauling him out? The forecourt is much more dangerous…not to mention the horrible fumes :(”

And the mums who don’t leave their baby in the car to pay for petrol

Lots of mums, though, said they’d only leave their children in the car if they were at a petrol station with a pay-at-the-pump option.

“Anything can happen in a split second and I’d never forgive myself – pay at pump or they come with me!” says Lisa P.

And crazyjt on our our forum tells us: “I don’t like using pay at pump (as I have had problems in the past) so I always take him in with me.

“I know it’s a hassle but if there is a queue or a problem at the till and it takes a while he is there with me.

“It really is each to their own but I’m not comfortable with leaving him in the car.”

What do you think?

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you agree with our mums who say it can actually be safer to leave your kids in the car while you pay for petrol?

Or do you prefer to keep your children with you even if it is a bit inconvenient? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook.

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