Eating out with your toddler

Keeping your child in the four walls of your house is not going to help them grow up. At some point you are going to have to venture outside and expose your toddler to the world. How else are they going to learn how to behave unless you let them see what is acceptable and what is not?

So here are some top tips for eating at a restaurant with your toddler.

Arrange to eat out at the same time you would eat at home

This means your toddler wont be waiting around for food. We all know that a hungry toddler is not a happy one.

Set reasonable expectations for yourself

No one is born with the ability to sit through a whole meal and be good as gold. It is a skill that your toddler needs to learn. Chances are they will probably get bored or want to play with their food. You just need to make sure that you are organised and able to cope and distract your toddler.

Remember, eating out is a skill and practice makes perfect and dont forget to stay calm with your toddler.

Choose a suitable restaurant

Taking your toddler out for their first ever meal in a 5 star restaurant maybe a cute story to share, but lets face it, you are setting yourself up for problems.

Take your toddler to a restaurant that is more family orientated. That way if your toddler does start acting up, the people around you are going to be a lot more understanding.

Reserve your table

Book your table so you can get seated straight away with minimum fuss. This means your toddler wont be waiting around and getting bored.

Don’t sneak your child in

Hiding your toddler away in the corner is again asking for trouble. What toddler likes to sit quietly?

Introduce them to the waiter/ess and anyone else that might be working there.

Firstly, your toddler will probably go all cute and shy (meaning your waiter/waitress is more likely to be happy to help and bring food out quicker). Secondly you can use it as a bribe to get your toddler to behave, e.g. “the waiter said to sit down quietly and they will bring your food out”.

Where to sit

Sit near the window. It gives you plenty of distractions to help divert your toddler’s attention.

Sitting near other families helps, as they will be in the same boat as you.

Treat your toddler like a grown up

I don’t mean take them to the bar, but little things like allowing your toddler to sit on a ‘big girls seat’ or in the ‘big boys high chair’ will help them to feel more grown up and will help to put them in a good mood from the start.

Come prepared

Bring crayons, toys etc. Something to distract your toddler from getting bored. Even giving toddlers your keys to play with can help.

The trick here is don’t let them get bored. Once they have started going down that slippery slope, its hard to recover.

Snacks and finger foods

Snacks and finger foods are a great distraction and will help to stop your toddler getting bored, will keep them entertained and will help to keep them quiet.

Order side plates

A plate of food that is not yours always looks more appetizing than your own; so order a side or two for your toddler to share with you. It makes their meal more interesting and makes your child feel more grown up.

Take a walk

If it starts getting too much for your toddler, take them for a walk. It doesn’t really matter where, just that you are taking them away from the situation and changing the scenery.

Relax and have fun

Eating out shouldn’t be a stressful experience. You should enjoy it. If you are stressing, chances are, it is going to rub off onto your toddler. So relax and enjoy spending time out of the house with your toddler.

Avoid dining disasters when eating out with you toddler.