The idea of taking your little one out to eat can seem daunting and stressful. What once used to be a relaxing experience you and your hubby would look forward to, it’s now just one big gamble. However, after over a year of experience with this endeavor, I’ve figured out some critical tips that can make or break your experience when dining out with your toddler.
Tip #1: Choose the RIGHT Restaurant
When deciding where to dine at, you want to consider the overall ambiance of the establishment and what kind of “scene” you are getting yourself into. You want to avoid overly “quiet” places so you won’t cause a total scene if your little one makes even a peep. You also want to avoid “romantic” settings in which couples are trying to enjoy a quiet and peaceful date night. The best types of restaurants are going to be “lively” in which there is a lot of chatter and music playing in the background to drown out your little one’s random outbursts that are inevitable. It’s also helpful when there is a lot for your little one to look at such as TVs, interesting lights, things on the walls, etc. to help distract them while you decide what to order, enjoy each other’s company, and hopefully be able to eat in somewhat peace.
tip #2: bring the right supplies
The days are over when you could just put your essentials in your purse and go. Now it takes some planning to make sure you pack everything your little one could possibly want or need on your 45 minute restaurant mission. Here’s some essential supplies that will make your dining experience as painless as possible:
- Snacks: The best snacks are things that aren’t messy and easy to transport such as yogurt melts, cheese sticks, oyster crackers or any kind of bit-size cracker
- Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder: These are a great with either fresh/frozen fruit or even ice cubes. My little guy loves these and it usually occupies him for 5-7 mins or so
- Munchkin Miracle Sippy Cup: These are perfect spill-proof cups that are great for training your little one how to frink out of a normal cup
- Baby Mumbo Children’s Place Mat: These spill proof accident trays are lightweight, easy to transport and easy to clean. You will never be embarrassed again about the mess your little one has made on the floor.
Tip #3: Never go out to eat if your little one is tired
This tip is fairly self-explanatory. When your little one is tired, the last thing they want is to be confined to a high chair. The best time to go is shortly after they wake up from their nap to ensure that they’ll be in the most patient and easy-going mood possible.
Tip #4: toddlers like people watching too
Try to request a table where you can position him in a good spot at the table that allows them to see all of the people and the restaurant in general. This will surely keep him entertained for much longer than if you face them toward a wall. My little guy loves to see all of the other kiddos, wave and make funny faces at everyone.
Tip #5: order quickly
My hubby and I always like to look at the menu before we go so we are prepared to order as fast as possible. The quicker you order, the faster you get your drinks and food so you’ll have a better chance of getting to eat in peace before your little one says “I’ve had enough” and starts crying and trying to get out of the high chair.
TIP #6: BE PREPARED TO LEAVE
Let’s be honest, your little one really only has a 30-45 minute window (if you’re lucky) of sitting still in a high chair until they’ve had enough. So if you can sense that time is coming, don’t hesitate to have your hubby walk him around outside or worst case scenario, get your food to go and bail on the scene.
In summary, when taking your little one out to eat, follow these tips and your sure to make your dining experience as smooth sailing as humanly possible.