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Parents put on blast on Facebook for leaving baby to hit the buffet line

Ashley Austrew is a freelance writer who loves tacos, Target and screen time. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, The Stir, Mommyish and more.

Did these parents make a mistake leaving their baby in a restaurant booth?

Anyone who's ever gone to a restaurant with a baby knows it's no easy task, but sometimes it's actually other patrons who make the experience so tough. An Ohio couple is embroiled in controversy and being investigated by child services after a stranger at a local buffet recorded them leaving their baby sitting in his car seat while they went to grab their food.

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The incident happened at a Chinese buffet near Sandusky, Ohio. The parents came into the restaurant with their baby still in his car seat. Rather than unbuckle him and try to juggle a baby and a plate, they opted to leave him strapped in and resting in the booth at their table while they quickly grabbed their meal. The mom says she had her eye on the baby the entire time, and he was never in any danger. But a man sitting near them saw the situation quite differently.

The nosy stranger whipped out his cellphone and immediately started recording the baby and muttering about how the mom left the child alone. He shared the video on his social media accounts, where it quickly amassed more than 4 million views and sparked a huge backlash against the parents.

The video has since been taken down, but now even the police are involved. They're investigating the couple and trying to determine whether or not the baby was at risk. Obviously, no one condones leaving a child alone, but in this case, it's difficult to say if the baby was ever truly unattended or in any danger at all.

The child was still safely strapped in and is small enough that he couldn't rock or tip the seat. The parents had an eye on the kid — in fact, they claim the man who recorded their baby intentionally angled his phone to make it look like they were out of sight so the situation would appear worse than it actually was. This looks less like a parenting fail and more like a nosy stranger simply got bent out of shape over someone else's choices.

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It takes a village to raise a child, but social media has made that village a lot more sanctimonious and judgmental. These days, anyone can record you or snap a photo of you, post it online and encourage millions of people to harass and berate you over the smallest thing. Of course, there are absolutely situations in which parents are negligent, but this doesn't appear to be one of them. Merely walking away from your child for a minute or two is hardly a crime, even when someone disagrees with your choice.

If anything, this man's video only proves how difficult it actually is to be a parent these days. If he was that worried about the child's safety, he could've offered to keep an eye on the baby while the parents grabbed a bite to eat. After all, he was sitting right beside them and clearly had nothing better to do. Instead, he chose to record a self-serving video that turned a family's quick dinner into a stressful, viral nightmare that will likely haunt them for a long time to come.

More: Mom tries to make a store return only to be humiliated at the register

We're so quick to judge each other, but rarely do we think to reach out and lend a helping hand. Parenting is a hard job. Most of us are just doing the best we can, and we could all use a little more compassion, help and love. It's easy to shame and blame and record a snarky cellphone video that asserts our own moral superiority. But perhaps we'd all be better off if we occasionally put down the phone and used our hands to help someone else instead.

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