You’ve tucked the baby in for the night and she’s fast asleep. Now, what do you do?

Sit in the dark staring at the crib, ready to respond to the smallest movement or noise? Would you be confident going to a different floor of your house? What about taking the baby monitor into the garage or the garden? How long would you feel comfortable being outside the house?

Now, what if you were in another building — say, the gym next door — but still had a working baby monitor? Is it the same as being in another room in a large house? Does it even matter, when peace of mind is paramount as a new parent?

That’s the debate raging on a subreddit created for people who want strangers to settle an argument for them.

On Nov. 26, an unidentified man living in Canada asked people to judge between him and the mother of his child.

My ex-wife thinks this is the worst thing I can do to the child

The man said he has his nine-month-old daughter three days a week, while his ex-wife has her the rest of the time. The man goes to the gym for an hour each night — even when he’s on parental duty.

“Disclaimer: I live in a main floor apartment and gym is right next door. From my patio door it’s 30 second walk to the gym. I bring baby monitor and it still works that distance,” he wrote. “I only go to the gym when she’s asleep. I’ve only been doing this for month and not once (has) she woken up while I was gone.”

He said his ex disagrees with what he’s doing, but his Swiss background has him seeing the situation differently.

“I grew up in Switzerland before moving to Canada and leaving children unattended at home is somewhat common, not quite a social faux-pas as it is here,” he wrote. “My ex-wife thinks this is the worst thing I can do to the child which I’m don’t agree with.”

“The situation described by this man is not a rare occurrence, and it is true that child supervision practices and what is considered ‘adequate’ supervision change significantly from one location/country to another and over time,” said Mónica Ruiz-Casares, an assistant professor at McGill University’s Centre for Research on Children and Families, in an email. “Although in many cases, the child does not wake up while the parent is away, these cases can and do get reported to child protection services (at times by the ex-spouse).”

Given the baby’s proximity to the gym, the man’s situation was comparable to being in another room at home, some said.

Getty Images stock photo

On Reddit, opinion was divided, with more than 1,500 comments so far. But many agreed with the man’s assessment of the situation, especially given the baby’s age.

“If the baby monitor works, why wouldn’t you trust it?” wrote DigitalShark5.

Given the proximity to the gym, the man’s situation was comparable to being in another room at home, some said, with one comment noting that no one judges him for working out in his garage with a baby monitor.

But plenty of people chastised the father for neglecting his parental duties.

Some even evoked the unsolved disappearance of little Madeleine McCann, the British toddler who went missing after her parents left her sleeping in a holiday apartment while they dined in a nearby restaurant at a resort in Portugal.

Commenters listed plenty of potential nightmare scenarios — including fire and choking — where being 30 seconds closer could mean “the difference between life and death.” Some pointed out that the man’s own medical emergency could put the child at risk.

“If you pass out at the gym and end up in the hospital, no one will know your baby is locked in your home, starving to death,” rawbface wrote.

Others pointed out that the baby monitor would be a good clue that there was a baby somewhere.

No one will know your baby is locked in your home, starving to death

The father did not state where he lives in Canada, and the law about leaving children unsupervised varies across provinces.

An information sheet published by the Child Welfare Research Portal found that only three provinces establish a minimum age to be left unsupervised (12 in Manitoba and New Brunswick; 16 in Ontario), but even the term “unsupervised” is not clearly defined. For example, Ontario’s Child and Family Services Act states: “No person having charge of a child less than sixteen years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.” But, depending on the circumstance, making provision for supervision could mean leaving the child a phone number they can use to contact you.

There’s no clear answer in any legislation about whether or not a baby monitor could be considered adequate supervision in this scenario. It would be up to the discretion of a CAS worker or judge. However, the information sheet notes that, in general, Canadian social services organizations advise that children under 12 years should not be left at home alone.

In most cases, Child Services would need to prove that the child was in danger or suffered harm when left alone. However, in Ontario, if the child is under 10, it’s up to the parents to prove that the child was not in danger.

“In general, babies are best not left home alone unsupervised but a number of factors will be assessed,” Ruiz-Casares said in an email. Those factors include whether it’s a regular practice, how long the parent is gone, how easy it is to reach the child and the risk of harm to the child.

Parents can face fines ranging from $240 to $50,000 and be jailed up to 24 months for leaving a child unsupervised.

Regardless of what the law says, the most important point to take into consideration is how the man’s ex-wife feels at what is already a stressful time for new parents, some commenters said.

“For the sake of maintaining a good relationship with his child’s mother, going to the gym for an hour just isn’t worth it,” wrote soundlikebutactually.

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