Bennington Austin "Bink" Cotwell IV has adoring parents Laraine (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Bennington (Matthew Glave), lives in a huge mansion in a suburb of Chicago, and is just about to appear in the social pages of the newspaper. Three klutzy would-be kidnappers: Edgar "Eddie" Mauser (Joe Mantegna), Norbert "Norby" LeBlaw (Joe Pantoliano), and Victor "Veeko" Riley (Brian Haley), the main antagonists, disguise themselves as the photographers from the paper and kidnap him. After the kidnapping, they have difficulty controlling him. In the trial of trying to get him to fall asleep, Norby does so reading Bink's book, leaving him unattended. Looking through it, he notices a bird on the page and then by the window. He follows it out and successfully gets away from his kidnappers, with Eddie falling off the building and into a garbage bin.
The FBI arrives at the mansion, headed by Dale Grissom (Fred Dalton Thompson), where they try to piece together clues along with Bink's parents and his loving nanny Gilbertine (Cynthia Nixon). Meanwhile, he, now outside on the ground and crawling about, finds another part of his book - the blue bus, which he then boards. The kidnappers realise he is missing and start chasing the bus in their van, but their efforts are in vain. Meanwhile on the bus, Bink crawls into the bag of an obese lady, who gets off at her stop shortly afterwards. By the time the trio catches it, and realise Bink is not on board, they then realise that he crawled into the lady's bag and follow her. An altercation ensues after they insult her, and while they attempt their escape, Bink crawls up to a revolving door at the entrance to a department store and is forced inwards by its momentum.
Crawling through the department store, Bink is stopped by a worker who works for Mother Goose Corner, a nearby day care center, who believes he is another baby who escaped from there. He later escapes there and the store and eventually crawls into traffic. The kidnappers attempt to follow him but keep getting injured in the process as he makes his way to the city zoo. They find him in the primate house with a gorilla and lose hope of gaining their ransom money. It shows a maternal side and does not injure him. The kidnappers try to retrieve him but it notices and bashes Veeko's hand, throws Norby into the air using a mop as a catapult, and hurls Eddie against the bars of the cage opposite its own.
The kidnappers eventually corner and catch Bink in the zoo's park, but are confronted by two friendly police officers, who have noticed that their van's engine is still running. During the conversation, Eddie hides Bink under his coat in his lap, but he reaches Eddie's cigarette lighter, sets his crotch on fire, and sneaks off as soon as the officers are gone. Veeko extinguishes the fire by stomping repeatedly on Eddie's groin. They follow Bink to a construction yard, but are still unable to catch him, with Veeko getting thrown off the building and into the back of a garbage truck, Norby falling into a vat of wet cement, and Eddie getting stranded on a crane after being drenched in glue. The sun sets as Bink leaves the construction yard. The kidnappers manage to escape (offscreen), but decide to give up and go home.
Bink's parents are notified of various sightings of him in the city and Gilbertine deduces that he has been following his favorite book, "Baby's Day Out" (or "Boo-Boo", as Bink calls it) and will most likely head for the Old Soldiers' Home next. Sure enough, they find him there, but on the way home, he begins to call out "Boo-Boo" toward the kidnappers' flat. The FBI moves in on there and arrests Eddie, Veeko, and Norby demanding that they return his book first.
Back home, Bink is put to bed by his family. As his parents discuss having his picture taken by a normal photographer in the morning, he wakes up and gets ready to read another book, this one entitled "Baby's Trip to China".Adam Robert Worton and Jacob Joseph Worton as Bennington Austin "Bink" Cotwell IV, the film's main character
Joe Mantegna as Edgar "Eddie" Mauser, one of the film's three villains
Brian Haley as Victor "Veeko" Riley, one of the film's three villains
Joe Pantoliano as Norbert "Norby" LeBlaw, one of the film's three villains
Lara Flynn Boyle as Laraine Cotwell, Bink's mother
Matthew Glave as Bennington Austin "Bing" Cotwell III, Bink's father
Cynthia Nixon as Gilbertine
Fred Dalton Thompson as Dale Grissom
John Neville as Mr. Andrews
Robin Baber as Ursula
Trevor Dalton as Norm
Eddie Bracken as Old Soldier
Dawn Maxey as Teenage Employee (Mother Goose Corner)
Verne Troyer as Baby Bink's stunt double
Anna Thomson as Mrs. McCray
Baby's Day Out was panned by critics, and holds a 21% "rotten" approval rating at the review website Rotten Tomatoes, with 3 positive reviews from 14.
On the Siskel & Ebert show, critic Roger Ebert wrote that "Baby's Day Out contains gags that might have worked in a Baby Herman cartoon, but in live action, with real people, taxis, buses, streets, and a real baby, they're just not funny. The Worton twins are adorable as Baby Bink, however; the audience produced an audible coo the first time they saw him on the screen." He gave the film 1 1/2 stars.
His partner, Gene Siskel, however, liked the film because he thought that young children would love it for the humor. Hal Hinson, writing for the Washington Post, wrote: "The pace is quick and efficient but never frantic...almost everything in the picture is just right, including the two-bit crooks who abduct the superhero toddler and end up bruised and begging hilariously for mercy. Best of all, though, is the Binkman himself, whose tiny face is so expressive that he brings new meaning to the phrase 'conquering with a smile.'"
The film opened with takings of $4,044,662 at the start of July 1994. The film finally grossed $16,827,402 at the domestic box office, a disappointing return considering the $48 million production budget for the film. It ranked at #83 for the best performing films of 1994.
It was also the 26th best performing PG-rated family film of the year in 1994.
Baby's Day Out was tremendously popular in South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In India, the movie was played at the largest theater in Calcutta for over a year. Recalling a trip to Calcutta, Roger Ebert says, "I asked if Star Wars had been their most successful American film. No, I was told, it was Baby's Day Out..." It was remade twice, first in Telugu in 1995 under the title Sisindri and then in Malayalam in 1999 under the title James Bond. It was dubbed in Tamil with the title Chutti Kuzhanthai meaning Naughty Baby. It was also dubbed in Bengali and played in theaters in Bangladesh. It was also dubbed in Punjabi as a comedy in Pakistan.
A video game version of the film was planned, completed, and slated to be released on Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis and Game Boy in October 1994, but was cancelled at the last minute. Two prototypes of the Genesis port can be found for download on several ROM sites. One is a near completed version while the other is a very early beta. Instead of playing as Bink, the player controls what appears to be Bink's guardian angel to guide Bink to safety in the vein of Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the film on VHS on April 4, 1995. The film was released on DVD on January 29, 2001. It includes Patrick Read Johnson's commentary, a featurette, and a trailer for the film. The film was re-released on DVD on October 11, 2011.