Eating Out With Baby
Does the thought of eating out with baby fill you with dread? You’re not alone… many parents
worry about taking their
little ones to a restaurant with them –
sometimes to the extent where they simply don’t do it and a nice meal out becomes a thing of the past!
Of course, babies are unpredictable and there’s no guarantee that your “little angel”
will behave like one as you sit down to dinner! But taking your baby to a restaurant with you
from an early age is a good idea, as it gets him accustomed to the whole experience.
Under your guidance, he’ll begin to learn about
good table manners and
what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in a restaurant environment.
These lessons will stay with your baby so that, as he grows, you’ll be able to look forward
to eating out often as a family. You will also be nurturing a long-lasting appreciation and
enjoyment of food!
Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy eating out with baby…
- Pick a suitable restaurant.
There are many
“child-friendly” eating establishments that are ideal for young families.
Not only do they have the equipment you might need, but the atmosphere is usually fun
and lively. Avoid eating in a more formal setting where there are very few children –
every sound your baby makes will seem ten times louder, you may receive some hostile
stares and the whole experience will be less than fun!
- If you are breastfeeding, check the restaurant’s policy on feeding
at the table. If there’s a problem, we’d recommend choosing a more family-friendly
- Try to coincide your meal with your baby’s usual mealtime.
He will be hungry and more likely to concentrate on eating, giving you a chance to
enjoy your own meal. Getting to the restaurant early also means you’re less likely to have
to wait for a table – and service is usually quicker in the early part of the evening.
- Check whether or not the restaurant you are visiting has a suitable
(and safe) highchair.
Even if they do, check the seat for cleanliness – sometimes restaurant
highchairs can be pretty disgusting – considering your baby may end up eating directly
off the tray, it’s crucial that it’s clean! We recommend investing in a good
during baby’s first year. You’ll get loads of use out of it – not just for eating out
and being able to place your baby in a seat that’s familiar to him (which is important to
some babies) – but also because you know that you’ll always be able to comfortably
feed your baby wherever you are!
- When reserving a table, ask for one with plenty of space around
it…particularly if your baby is very young and you may need somewhere to put the carrier.
- Let’s face it – eating out can be pretty boring for a young baby.
So make it entertaining. Bring along diversions – little toys are great
(although we’d recommend avoiding anything too noisy!), or you can bring the most
mundane household items that can keep your baby happy for ages!
Our favourite cheap and cheerful homemade toy is a tub with a lid (like an ice cream tub)
with a hole cut into it. You can then give your baby items to post through the hole – they love it! Whatever you bring with you, try to make sure it’s either new or hasn’t been played with for a while, so its entertainment value will last longer.
- Bring some basic finger food items or pre-made travel snacks. Your baby will not be prepared to
wait for food as long as you are!
- If you’re not sure whether or not the restaurant will provide suitable
eating utensils for your baby, then bring your own!
Our son was given a china dish in a
restaurant, which he promptly hurled across the room like a frisby and smashed on the tiled
floor. Very embarrassing!
- Try to change your baby’s nappy/diaper before you sit down. Hopefully, this will save
you the inconvenience of getting up during your meal.
- If your baby is old enough to be eating the restaurant’s food,
it’s probably best to steer clear of the kids’ menu.
For some reason, restaurant owners
believe that all children adore chicken nuggets, burgers, fries and the like – but, given
the opportunity, kids will eat far healthier and tastier foods quite willingly! Eating in a
restaurant is a great time to offer your baby some foods he may not have tried before!
- Try your best to keep your baby in the highchair throughout your meal.
Often the worst tantrums take place when you take him out to keep him occupied –
and he doesn’t want to get back in when the food arrives! Eventually, it will become normal
to him to sit at a table for the duration of a meal, rather than want to get down and play half
- Restaurants can be dangerous places for babies so look out for hazards.
Do not seat your baby in an aisle where he may be at risk from waiting staff walking
by with hot food and drinks. Clear his immediate area of any glassware or cutlery.
When your meal arrives, make sure that all hot plates are out of his reach.
- If your baby makes a mess… don’t forget to tip your waiter/waitress