5 Tips for Dining Out with a Toddler
Before our son was born, my husband and I agreed that becoming parents wouldn’t stop us from visiting our favorite restaurants. We felt encouraged after dining at an Italian restaurant next to a young couple whose little one slept peacefully in her infant car seat throughout the meal.
But as we’ve learned in our 16 months as parents, it’s much easier to bring a baby to a restaurant than it is a toddler. Whereas a baby is content to sit in his or her infant carrier, a toddler demands a whole lot of your attention—and your patience! Still, we manage to make it out to brunch, lunch and dinner with our little guy on a fairly regular basis. Here’s how we make dining out with a toddler a little less stressful:
Embrace the Early Bird Special
The later we keep our toddler awake past bedtime, the crankier he gets. So if we want to take him out to dinner with us, we make our reservations for 5:30pm and enjoy dessert at home after he’s asleep.
Don’t arrive with an empty sippy cup! Restaurants charge for a glass of milk, but we’ve found that our waiter or waitress is usually happy to refill our son’s cup of milk at no charge.
Anticipate a Mess
You already know that your toddler is going to push his food around the table. These disposable placemats stick to the table, protecting your child from germs and making clean up a breeze.
Catch the Crumbs
A bib with a deep pocket prevents the food that misses your toddler’s mouth from falling on the floor. Before you leave, though, be courteous and pick up the big chunks of food your toddler flung onto the floor.
Learn to Share
Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, and if your little one is anything like mine, his tastes change on a daily basis. Don’t waste your money on a meal from the kids’ menu that has a 50/50 chance of being eaten. Instead, share the food off your plate and supplement your toddler’s meal with Cheerios, crackers or a yogurt pouch.