Justin Osborne's wife and newborn child were escorted from the NRA trade show where children are not allowed. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)

A woman who had hoped to promote her family-owned business at the National Restaurant Association trade show over the weekend was instead driving back to her Minnesota home Sunday.

Kristin Osborne was escorted out of the exhibit hall at McCormick Place on Saturday, she said, because she was carrying an infant. Osborne, 31, knew about the trade show rule that does not allow children under 16, she said, but did not think it would apply to her sleeping, 10-day-old baby wrapped closely to her chest. Osborne left her two other children, ages 2 and 4, at home, but said she has never been kicked out of a place for having an infant.

"As a working mother — and I have been working since I had my first one — this is a big surprise to me," said Osborne, who takes charge of marketing for her family-owned Spring Valley winery, Four Daughters Vineyard. "I have brought my babies all sorts of places. You don't bring children to adult places, but he eats every hour currently."

Osborne walked around the trade show for less than an hour Saturday, she said, before she sat in a chair to breast-feed. After she finished, she walked by a security booth, where guards said her child was not allowed. She remembers one guard asking if the baby could stay with his dad the next day.

"I said, 'Clearly he's a breast-feeding baby. I can't separate from him,' " Osborne said. "I understand not having kids run around or not having strollers — that I understand. A tiny breast-feeding infant, I hope would be an exception to this rule."

When she appealed to the show coordinator, Osborne said, he stood by the security guards' decision.

Children younger than 16 are kept out of the show for safety reasons, a well-published, long-standing policy in place for the safety of both children and other attendees, according to Sue Hensley, spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association.

"There are knives. There are ovens. There are cooking demonstrations with open flames," Hensley said. "There's all sorts of equipment that could be very dangerous to a child to have any interaction with and certainly not an infant."

When asked specifically about Osborne's description of events that preceded her departure from the trade show, Hensley reiterated the association's policy on children.

A law in Illinois states that anywhere a woman is allowed to be, she is legally allowed to breast-feed. The law was written to protect mothers from being harassed for public indecency, according to Nancy Mohrbacher, vice chair of the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition.

That law does not apply if the child is kicked out for safety reasons, according to attorney, Jake Marcus, an expert in national breast-feeding law.

"A child can be banned from an unsafe place," Marcus said. "The 'If my child is banned, I am banned' argument doesn't work. The adult's right to be in a space and the child's right to be in a space are not legally connected."

Still, Osborne said, she feels excluded from a valuable opportunity to network and learn.

"I'm disappointed mostly," Osborne said. "It was a really big deal they invited us to pour at the show. It was a really big deal for our little winery."

mmrodriguez@tribune.com | Twitter: @merjourn