How many of you are excited about going to a restaurant with a toddler? Okay let me put it this way. How many of you plan your trip to the restaurant with your toddler? By planning I mean everything- food, clothing, toys, stroller and what not.
For many of us taking a toddler with the family to have a fine dining out is something that requires days of planning. Have we taken this, have we taken that and a half way through the ride we go about” omg! We missed this”, looking at what we’ve packed seemed to be like a mini vacation.
So how can we turn this to something that we enjoy doing, something that we look forward to, something that would become a tradition to celebrate or come on let’s give the lady of the house some rest from cooking.
This can be slowly done by taking your child once he/she is about 7-8 months, so that they get used to the environment, look out what it is like, what people do.
Let’s take a look at few tips and tricks.
1) Eating early
This is certainly the most important point that needs to be taken into consideration. Plan to have your meal a little earlier so that your home early. Your child might be past bedtime, but you definitely need to be out of the restaurant and halfway down when they start getting cranky.
2) Pack a bag with food for the kid
You may plan to take the usual meal your toddler takes or if you’re someone who doesn’t want to run around and feed in the restaurant you may as well pack some healthy snacks to keep your toddler busy. You might even order an extra portion of salad or boiled veggies if your toddler is already sued to such food.
3) Get to know the place
You can place the order and then take round about the restaurant to explore or say hi if they are any kids around of the same age. And if you find one you’re lucky.
4) Plan what you eat
IF the restaurant that you planned to go has an online menu, make sure you decide what to order and eat there beforehand and not study the menu when you are actually there. This saves time, count on me.
5) Carry distractions
If your toddler is old enough to color to may carry some crayons and sheets keep them engaged. Some restaurants if they are kid friendly do have this available themselves. Reserve a set of toys for trips like these. They must be something new and not what the kid usually plays with.
6) Feed the kid before
If possible feed the kids before you start, in that way they are full and will not be cranky when you get there.
7) Get the corner table
Try your best to be seated in one of the corners or in booths, in that way the kid has more room and can save you from embarrassment.
8) Keep cutlery out of reach
Most parents give the children cutlery to play with. This is one of the worst way of distracting. Keep them out of reach.
9) Opt for a kid friendly restaurant
Look in for restaurants which have a high chair, kids zone and most importantly kid friendly menu. Don’t attempt to feed whatever your order to your kid to say that you are making them get used to it. They have all the time in the world to explore food. Always introduce new foods at home, by which I mean home cooked and not take away food being fed at home.
10) avoid the junk as treat
Avoid treating your kid with junk. This might tempt them to ask for it, when they see people at the other table having it.
11) Keep clean
Always carry two sets of bib and your own play mat. After all, since we eat in the restaurant we do not pay them for the mess the child makes.
12) table manners if kids are old enough
If the kids are old enough, teach them table manners. Practice pretend play of a restaurant. They can learn to order what they would want to eat with a little assistance from your side.
13) Toilet trips before eating
Take your kids to toilet before you settle down to eat.
14)Prepare for restlessness.
It may be tough for your kid to keep unmoving for a long time – about 45 minutes is the max for a child up to about age 5. Be ready to take them on a walk outside the restaurant.
15) IF everything fails; leave
Try not to get angry if, after all your preparation, your child is troublesome. Instead, ask for the bill and take away boxes, and finish the meal at home.
“If you’re so busy correcting your child that you aren’t enjoying your meal, it’s time to do something else,” says Pamela Gould, author of Feeding the Kids.