13 Tips For Eating Out With Young Children
Careful Planning, No Stress
Eating out with young children can be the worst nightmare or a pleasant family experience...
Believe it or not, the scenario largely depends on a little planning on your side...
Life doesn't stop when you become a parent, but the lifestyle does change. To what extent - it is up to you to choose. You may decide to give up all the little joys of life, but your child doesn't really need this sacrifice from you.
If eating out used to be a nice family tradition, when there were just the two of you, nothing prevents you from having those special outings along with your little one.
Agreed, a relaxed two-hour dinner in a posh restaurant may not always be possible when your baby or toddler is around, (then hire a baby sitter instead) but with a bit of careful planning eating out can still be a wonderful experience for all of you.
Here are a few things you should consider when going out for a meal with your young child.
Tips For Eating Out With Babies And Young Children
- Choose a child-friendly restaurant. Often, smaller family-run establishments welcome parents with young children and have everything to please a little client, including a special menu for kids. The presence of high chairs is usually one more positive sign; a good playground is like an answer to your prayers.
- Make sure that your kid is not hungry or tired when you arrive at a restaurant. For that, choose the timing wisely (late dinner is generally a bad idea) and have some snacks or milk ready.
- Formal dining with a kid who is too young is likely to be a disaster, but if your child is a little older to understand and learn table manners, it can be a fun experience.
- Choose establishments with a higher noise level (but not music that is too loud!) if you know that your child can't keep quiet for more than a few minutes. Nevertheless, encourage him/her to speak in a lower tone and avoid clanging with a spoon.
- Buffets and cafeterias, not to mention special themed restaurants for kids, are a surefire option for children of any age.
- If your child is still a young baby, who can't sit in a high chair, but rather lies in his stroller, ask for a table where you can have the carrier next to where you sit.
- If you need to be able to breastfeed your baby, either ask if the restaurant has nice rest rooms or if you can have a table where you can breastfeed in public facing the wall. This way you can nurse your baby without the stress of bothering anyone around you. Also remember to wear a good nursing bra and top.
- If needed, remember to bring your own baby food. For babies from 8 months and up, some interesting finger foods are ideal. Not so greasy and something that can keep your baby occupied for a while.
- Don't rely on a few crayons that may (or may not!) be offered as entertainment for your child. They will engage him/her for a few minutes at max. Pack his/her favorite toys, or pick up a couple of new ones (choose ones that produce less noise). If your child is interested in books - the better it is, as they tend to draw the attention for longer periods.
- Make eating out exciting and educating for your child - talk to him/her, explain what is going on around, point at interesting objects and name them, show how to use cutlery, etc.
- If your child is able to make his/her food choice, encourage him/her to do so. He/she may even place an order, provided "please" and "thank you" are a part of it.
- Pay the bill before you order a dessert - in case your child is not in mood to behave well any longer, you can leave at any moment.
- Try to tip well, especially if the staff was helpful and patient, and your child too noisy or messy. An attentive and understanding waiter can make a lot of difference in your eating out experience.
Now, that's one excuse less for not eating out together even if you are new parents! (And if you need tips on how to choose the right baby sitter, you'll find a check list here.)
So take your family out and enjoy the experience of eating out together!
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When it's time to eat at home consider these
crock pot recipes as easy family meals - for example these
crock pot pork recipes are ideal for the busy mom or dad.
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