Going out for dinner is no doubt a treat – but with a toddler in tow, things can get a bit tricky. Don’t worry, with the right plan in place, eating out with toddlers is no stress at all. Check out our tips for dining out with toddlers so that you and your whole family can enjoy a lovely meal together.
Preparation Is Key
Practicing good table manners during mealtimes at home means that your little one won’t see them as something new and scary when asked to use them at a restaurant. It’s also a good idea to explain to your tot how you expect them to behave at the restaurant beforehand.
Time It Right
Routine is super important to toddlers. You’ll want to eat as close to your angel’s usual mealtime as possible, so make your reservation for slightly before then. This way your tot won’t get too hungry – and if there’s one thing all parents want to avoid, it’s a hungry toddler.
It’s also a good idea to try and avoid busy times. The hustle and bustle of a packed restaurant might be overwhelming for your kiddo.
Choose Your Restaurant Wisely
Check if your chosen restaurant is an appropriate one for your munchkin. Perhaps you could call ahead to ask if they have highchairs, a kid’s menu or even a toddler play area. Or if you haven’t decided on a restaurant yet, try searching “toddler friendly restaurants near me” to get some inspiration.
You’ll definitely want to avoid anywhere too fancy, as those out for a posh, luxury meal are more likely to be disgruntled by a boisterous tot.
Choose Your Table Wisely
If the weather is good and your chosen restaurant has outdoor seating, dining outside is a fabulous idea- especially if you have a particularly noisy toddler on your hands. If you are dining indoors, try to choose a booth or corner table as these tend to have more wriggle room for your little tyke.
Having the right supplies can make all the difference when eating out with toddlers. Some things to bring include wet wipes to clean up any mess, snacks for your tot in case the food takes a while to arrive, your little one’s sippy cup and a bib.
One thing parents swear by is a restaurant busy bag for toddlers. This can include toys, colouring books, crayons and anything else that might keep your little mischief-maker entertained. You could even include headphones and a tablet with your nugget’s favourite TV show downloaded, as a last resort.
Toddlers are many things- but one thing they are not is patient. Taking a while to decide what to order can cause your munchkin to get antsy and irritated. One solution to this problem is to look at the restaurant’s menu online so you can decide what you want before you even arrive. Or maybe you could go to a buffet, where your food will be ready and waiting for you.
Respect Waitstaff and Other Guests
One of the most important tips for dining out with toddlers is to be respectful of the other people in the restaurant with you. You’ll be surprised how understanding people are – after all, you certainly aren’t the first parent on earth to deal with a mischievous tot.
You should also try to clean up as much of the toddler related mess at your table as you can before leaving. And leave a generous tip for your waiter or waitress.
Know When to Cut and Run
Some evenings your little angel can be a little devil- and that’s okay! Prepare for this possibility by paying the check before your meal in case you must leave in a hurry. There’s absolutely no shame in fleeing – it happens. You can always try again next time.
With our tips, eating out with toddlers isn’t half as scary as you might have thought. With the right preparation, both you and your sprog can delight in a delicious meal. So, make your reservation, pop your nice clothes on, head out and enjoy!