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Taking baby to a restaurant – dining out tips for parents

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Ever since I’ve been a mom, going to restaurants has been tricky business. Each stage that my children go through means a different set of challenges each time we eat out. Over the past few years however – and after too many public tantrums to count – I’ve picked up a few tips that make eating out with babies and toddlers a little less stressful.

Here are some things you can try to make dining out with your children more enjoyable:

Choose family friendly restaurants – I always take my kids to restaurants that have highchairs and kid-friendly staff. The owner of one local restaurant was kind enough to bring my son and daughter a pail full of toys while they waited for their meals. They were happy and quiet the entire time and I got to relax.

Go prepared – I always pack a small bag of Cheerios (or any light, healthy snack) and sippy cups with water. Having a few small, quiet toys on hand doesn’t hurt either. Family friendly restaurants will allow this if it means the kids stay content while waiting for their food to arrive. Don’t forget to pack any bottles, diapers, plastic utensils, etc. that you may need.

Order right away – I always order a “baby plate” as soon as we’re seated. This is usually mashed potatoes, vegetables, and some kind of meat or sandwich that smaller kids can eat. Sometimes I just share my own meal or order an extra plate of fries if I think my kids aren’t very hungry.

Choose a good time – Eating out right at noon or supper time is usually a bad idea since the kids are already getting cranky from being too hungry. I try and choose a time when A) the restaurant isn’t very busy, and B) the kids aren’t starving yet and will remain content until it’s time to eat. Going after nap time is usually a better bet than before. Tired, hungry kids can make for an extremely unpleasant dining experience!

Don’t avoid eating at a restaurant with your child just so you can bypass a possibly disastrous evening. It’s good experience for your child to be around other people in a public setting, and it’s a chance for you to show your child how to behave in a restaurant. It also adds a little variety to your week to keep you and your child from getting stuck in the same routine.

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