11 Tips For Eating Out With Baby
Having "reservations" about taking baby to a restaurant? I've found that if I go prepared, both physically and mentally, I'm able to enjoy eating out with my baby—most of the time. Here are 11 tips to help you have a positive experience.
Location is key.
Choose a lively, noisier restaurant over a dimly lit, romantic one. Choose a bigger restaurant over the exclusive, 10-seater spot. Probably best to stay away from places with white table cloths and more than four utensils per place setting.
Request a table away from heavy foot traffic.
Getting a table a little out of the way helps to accommodate a high chair and helps create a little sense of privacy for you while also guarding against mass disruption of other diners.
Ask for crackers or bread or bring your own.
Even at the most efficient of restaurants, there is waiting time before you get your food. Ask the server right away to bring crackers or bread for your baby to nosh on before she eats her meal or while you are eating yours. Having bread or crackers in her hand also keeps her occupied. My baby loves to feed herself, and she can be satisfied gnawing on a roll and passing it back and forth from one hand to another for a surprisingly, yet blissfully long time.
Ask for the kid's water cup with the lid.
Babies love drinking out of the cup with the lid. And, unlike the sippy cup, you don’t have to clean it up if it gets slimed throughout the meal. You can leave it behind with the rest of the dining debris.
Take a high chair cover.
Not only is using the high chair seat cover a little more hygienic (public high chairs can be filthy), but it also serves as a catchall for the food that didn’t make it to baby’s mouth.
Put down an adhesive table mat.
Throw down one of these mats so you can put cut-up pieces of food on top of it to save you from dealing with a plate.
Prepare your diaper bag.
Bring your own baby utensils, bibs and wipes. Bring a few toys and books, in case of emergency. Also, bring your own food just in case baby is just not feeling the restaurant food.
Timing is everything.
Don’t venture out to a restaurant during nap time or if your baby hasn’t gotten one. Do that and you’re just asking for Melt Down City. And, if at all possible, go on the early side of mealtime. This ensures a less busy restaurant and faster service.
Pick a big restaurant with room for you to roam.
A larger restaurant will allow you to take baby for a walk if she gets bored and fussy. Dining in a larger restaurant will also help prevent an “all eyes on you” situation if baby is feeling particularly “spirited”.
Be aware of the mess on the floor.
When things look ugly under the high chair, I try to quickly and inconspicuously scoop up the bulk of what’s fallen on the floor with a napkin. It helps out the dining staff and also shows some courtesy on your part.
Relax. It will probably go better than you expected.
If you go to a restaurant prepared, and if you have an easy going attitude about it, chances are you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you and your little one enjoyed the experience.
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