Tips for Taking Your Toddler to a Restaurant

Eating Out

The sun is out and the weather is perfectly pleasant. It is time to dust off the pollen and head out for a relaxing dinner or leisurely lunch at a restaurant with a beautiful patio. I can just hear the birds chirping and leaves rustling in the wind. Oh, and the screaming baby next to me throwing peas on the floor. And BAM, we’re back to reality. But wait! Your favorite Clueless Chick is here to save the day!

Having a nice meal at a restaurant does not mean you have to get a sitter or take-out, which is good news for everyone who is on the go with no other choice but to eat out. So how do you avoid having to run out of a restaurant mid-meal with a screaming toddler? All you need is a little planning, a well-stocked diaper bag and a little luck! Let’s be honest, all of the planning and perfect parenting in the world can’t prevent the occasional epic meltdown. Yes, it happens to all of us. Trust me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not proposing a week-long planning effort for dinner out on Friday, just that you put a little more thought into how you pack your diaper bag and restaurant logistics. That’s right, it is time to put all of that schooling to good use!

Restaurant Logistics 
• Avoid restaurants with long wait times, or pick a location, like the mall, where you can walk around and play while you are waiting for your table. 
• Face the little one’s highchair or booster seat towards all of the action to keep him/her entertained by passers by. 
• Scope out the menu before you arrive so that you can order quickly for yourself and the little one. 
• As your server to bring the check as soon as your food arrives just in case you need to make a quick exit. 

Your diaper bag, as always, is your secret weapon, so use it to its fullest. When you are going to a smaller restaurant or you expect to be crammed into a small space, consider downsizing to a smaller diaper bag so you have less to mess with. But most importantly, pack deliberately. If you ever find yourself in a pinch, I’m sure you can make do, but following a few simply packing tips can be a lifesaver:

Don’t Leave Home Without …
• A table topper and highchair cover to protect your little one from germs and the never cleaned highchair. 
• A bottle or sippy cup if your little one is not yet using a straw. 
• Your little one’s favorite snacks for waiting time or entertainment. 
• Wipes, wipes and more wipes to clean up messy hands, faces and tables. 

Entertainment Tricks 
• Have your little one’s favorite toy or game handy. 
• Crayons and sticky notes make for perfectly crafty and mess free entertainment. 
• Bring an old wallet stuffed with pictures and old rewards cards that the little one can play with. 

Now don’t worry, in addition to thinking about how to make your adventure less stressful, I also have a few money-saving ideas for you which will make your evening out even better!

Money Savers 
• Skip the Kid’s Menu! Let your toddler eat part of your meal or order a kid-friendly appetizer that everyone can share. 
• Order strategically by pairing a side of green beans with the bread served before the meal. 
• Pick a night when your favorite restaurant offers a kids eat free offer. 
• Bring your own food for the little one, like puffs, cherrios, raisins, applesauce, etc.
• If you have two little ones, let them share one Kid’s meal. 

See, that sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? OK, maybe it sounds a bit overwhelming but I am sure you can pull it off. As always a little planning goes a long way and I cannot tell you how important it is to relax and try to enjoy yourself. If you walk in to this adventure tense and expecting the worst, you’re gonna get it 😉

Always be sure to clean up after your little one so that you are welcome back the next time with open arms. There is nothing worse than making your poor server clean up a colossal mess after they have run to get you more napkins, extra bread, etc. – especially if you aren’t a good tipper.

Have fun and good luck!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Categories: The Clueless Chick