Taking your toddler to a restaurant. What to and what not to ?

Toddler at restaurant

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.

Toddler at restaurant

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.

Who is a fussy eater ? How to adapt and tame one .

What is fussy eating?

Fussy eating happens when usually your kid starts rejecting food or seems choosy about what is being fed.

When does a baby turn a fussy eater?

This can be a regular habit or can be at intervals. The baby may have an immature digestive system, which will cure itself with time, or might be teething, have an infection,food allergy, or just may not be ready for solid foods yet.

What symptoms should I look out for?

Your baby may push away the spoon or turn her head from it. She might close her mouth,as you try feeding her, spit out food, or become cranky or tired at mealtime. They might also start throwing food when they are playful.

Suggestions to avoid fussy eating stage

  • Don’t delay introducing lumpy foods. Keep changing frequently between purees and lumpy food.
  • Remember that your child will never voluntarily starve themselves. Hunger and fullness can be very well judged by kids.
  • Do not make a fuss of whether your child is eating or not. Remain calm. All we need to do is to concentrate on making mealtimes enjoyable family events. If an occurrence is enjoyable, your child will want to repeat it
  • Be genuine about the amount of effort you put into making your child’s meals. Don’t feel annoyed when they refuse to eat.
  • Don’t threaten and shout at them. This might make it even more difficult
  • Do not use desserts as bribes.

How do I adjust to my child’s eating habit:?

Part of the problem is solved when parents avoid to force feed a child like a adult.

  • If your kid is in the age of 2 months to 2 years, we need to understand that their stomach size would be small. If they have too much of liquid intake say fruit juice or milk, that might be filling them up and say no to a solid when offered.
  • The meal size should be that is something that should suffice a child- size. If they are hungrier they would ask for more. Ideal plan would be three meals spaced at an equal interval and a snack in between.
  • If the family is used to eating late at nights. This would not suit the child. They might get tired and start getting cranky. So always feed the last meal earlier.
  • Weekly assessment is better than daily.
  • Let the kid decide when they have had enough, this would help them understand their body and make them realize when to stop and when to ask for more.

How to tame my fussy eater?

  • Do not force feed the child. If the child turns the head away and rejects food by closing mouth , it’s a clear sign that they are full, even if it is very little. Trust your kid that they know how much to eat. Despite the above signs, if you still try to force feed it might lead to tension and discomfort.
  • Experiment with food textures. Even babies have food preferences. Some enjoy wet gravy foods, while the others prefer finger food. Some might want o continue with liquids, while the others might want to graze over half a dozen meal. Offer healthy options and he’ll develop a taste for them. But do not trick them with junk to eat the meal.
  • Change the speed. Some babies are fast eaters some are slow. So try changing the pace to see if there is a difference.
  • Do not distract the child. Keep away toys, books and turn off TV. Main focus should only be on eating.
  • It’s tempting to let a picky eater take as long as they want to eat. Keep meal length reasonable. It should not be more than 30 minutes. You can tell them you should eat before your hands become dry.
  • Let the baby touch and feel the food that is being offered. There is nothing wrong in exploring.
  • Follow your baby’s timeline. Most babies begin eating solid foods between 4 and 6 months, but some may start a little earlier, others later. As with crawling, walking, potty-training, and just about every other infant milestone, there’s no perfect time .No baby is unique. So let them take their own time.
  • Encourage self-feeding. By about 9 months, many babies are interested in trying to feed themselves. Although your picky eater is likely to make a mess waving around the mealtime spoon, letting him take control is important to a child’s growth and development. Let them participate, which makes it enjoyable for them.
  • It’s a natural feeling for babies to slow down on their feeds. This is usually at the end of year one babies’ growth tends to slow. So does their calorie need. Be patient; growth spurts are on the way.
  • Keep trying, gently. Some babies may need to try a food eight, 10, even 15 times before they enjoy it, so be patient and continue to revisit a rejected food over time, time as long as there are no allergies.
  • React passionately to a picky eater and even a 1-year-old will understand her power over you. Realize that you want your baby to eat for her own well-being, not to please you — and that baby’s rejection of a food is not a rejection of you. Don’t let on that you’re frustrated or angry.
  • Even if it’s our job to feed the baby, it’s their choice to choose what to eat and when. As long as the child is active and has a healthy weight gain, we needn’t worry.
  • Make meal time educative. Teach them where food comes from.
  • Eating together is a good practice. Make sure at least one of you eats with the child.

Toddler recipes for fussy eaters:

  • Baked sweet potato wheels
  • Dry fruit powdered balls
  • Melon balls
  • Shaped cheese slice
  • Popcorn gobi mildly spiced
  • Mildly spiced ragi or soya chakli
  • Carrot kheer
  • Multigrain balls
  • Rice cakes topped with ghee and sugar
  • Rice crepes with veggie purees
  • French fries shallow fried
  • Bite sized jam buns
  • Mini quesadilla with veggies
  • Dhal rice balls
  • Curd rice cakes
  • Soups of all veggies

I did read through a couple of books to learn about child nutrition.

The gentle eating book by Sarah Ockwell Smith

Eat, delete Junior by Pooja Makhija

These give us a better understanding of our child’s food habits and nutritional needs.

Parenting Journey

Hello All,

Welcome to my world of blogging where I go about sharing my experiences as a new parent.

Motherhood has indeed made me a new person I discover each day.

I am a mother of a naughty beautiful toddler , Shrinika who makes me run on my toes all day. Wait..I’m a working mom so don’t take it literally. So it’s not all day and the times when I am with her.

Let me take you on a journey of good parenting through my experiences shared here. Feel free to let me know your comments, show some love and give me your suggestions and feedback. Happy parenting.