I was doing a program the other week for very young children. We're talking babies here. Under a year. Haven't mastered the art of stringing intelligible words together or walking upright. Most are just learning what the word "shhh" means, if they have any idea at all. So, needless to say, I wasn't expecting the kids to be perfect little angels. Kids that age have an attention span of about 3 seconds. Since I wasn't holding a bottle, a blanket, or a weird toy that jingled, if they look at me and smile for the duration of those three seconds, I consider that an accomplishment on my part.
One of the children was not being happy. He wanted to crawl around the room. Dad did not want him to, and insisted on baby sitting on his lap. Baby did not like this. He fussed, he cried, he fidgeted. In other words, he acted like a normal baby. Dad responded by covering baby's mouth.
I told the father that if his son wished to explore the room we were in, that was perfectly fine. He relaxed his vigilance, and the kid happily investigated. But I haven't seen father or son since, and I think the reason may have had to do with the fact that the father may have been a little embarrassed, because his child was the only one fussing. Which is a crying shame, really. This was a program for kids under the age of eighteen months. No child that age wants to sit still for 20 minutes and listen to some strange person sing songs -- even if they're silly songs. If little dude wants to crawl around the floor and mutter happy nonsense noises to himself, that's ok. I figure, as long as he isn't chewing another kid's pacifier, screaming at the top of his lungs, or hurting himself, he's fine. He's probably learning more than he would if he were sitting on Mom or Dad's lap being restrained while he fussed. At least now he's happy. And I'd much rather listen to a happy baby than a crying one any day.
The Harlot (see link on left-hand side) says this much better than I right now, so I encourage you to check out her blog. Babies are going to be noisy (in that respect, they aren't really that different from a lot of adults I know). They're going to fuss, they're going to scream, and if they're in a new and interesting place, they're going to want to explore. Let them. As long as they're happy and not hurting themselves or someone else, they're going to be fine.