5 Fantastic Tips For Eating Out With Your Toddler
Love eating out every week or often, and your new mommy hood status is hampering that aspect of your lifestyle? Don’t let it! We bring you tips and tricks to enjoy your trip to your favorite eatery with your toddler in tow! I love trying new restaurants, cuisines, but when my daughter was born, it all came to a standstill. Being a first time mommy, I was dead against taking my newborn to restaurants (public places = germs = sick baby). Even after her first set of vaccinations, I was very wary. Add to that the concern that what if she demands to be nursed – how to keep her – in my lap? in the car seat? in the stroller? The planning itself became so complicated, that we’d just order in food. However, around the 7th month mark, when my daughter started sitting up on her own (without any support), and could be like that for long periods of time, she was comfortable in her high chair at home and could hold finger foods or mesh feeders, we started experimenting with our restaurant rounds and guess what? It has been a huge success. We are able to eat out as often as we can – often more than just once a week, and without any unpleasant tantrums. So, without any further delay, here is what you can do to enjoy eating out with your toddler.
1. Choose a kid/family friendly restaurant.
There is no point going to a very exclusive fine dining (and wining) place that does not have basic facilities like a high chair, kid friendly menu, family ambience, and restrooms. You would also want a spacious area to allow for easy entry and exit. You can search online for reviews of the restaurant you want to visit and if you are still not sure, it is best to call them and ask directly if they are kid friendly. From their tone and answer, you will be able to decide better.
2. Choose the right time.
Most toddlers get restless or overwhelmed in a crowded place, so best is to choose non-peak hours. Also, it should not coincide with your child’s nap time or meal time. Always remember, a well rested kid on a full tummy is your ticket to a peaceful meal, even if it means a late lunch or a very early dinner!
3. Go well equipped.
Here are a must haves when you are eating out with your toddler:-
- Your diaper bag with all essentials and extras.
- A set of big-sized bibs and gentle wipe cloths.
- Some favorite dry finger foods that your kids enjoys.
- Cup/bottle with water, juice, or milk at a temperature that suits your little one. You don’t want your baby to sip form restaurant glasses or use their water etc.
- An on-the-go placemat such as the one below. It comes with suction cups to hold it steady on the table, easy to clean and carry. You can place finger foods or tidbits from your order into the placemat. No hassle of worrying about your toddler breaking restaurant crockery – also you are assured of the hygiene factor.
I am not in favor of carrying toys or books, because soon it becomes a throwing game with everybody bending in uncomfortable positions to scoop them out!
4. Keep the trip short and simple.
It is always a good idea to download the restaurant menu beforehand or have some rough idea of what you are going to order. Toddlers have limited patience. You can’t expect them to sit through a half an hour of deciding session and then the eating session. Ask the waiter is any item that you have ordered will take exceptionally long – be prepared to swap for a faster alternative. If the food takes a very long time to come and you can see your baby getting cranky, don’t hesitate to ask for a to-go (carry away for home). More importantly, don’t club your eating trip with an exhausting shopping or any other such trip. You know your toddler best but it is always advisable to not over stimulate them.
5. Finally, be a sensitive guest.
Be sensitive to your co-guests and also to the restaurant staff. If you feel that your kid is creating too much of a noise (the unpleasant kind – laughing, talking is all okay), offer a well meaning apology – more often than not they will understand. Take turns with your partner to take your baby out while the other eats. Also, if your toddler has created a major mess, which they usually do by throwing food on the ground or dirtying the high chair, leave an extra gracious tip and a kind word to your attending waiter. You will always be welcomed again!