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Dining out with babies: Dos and don’ts

Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you need to stay home, but there are plenty of things to keep in mind when you take your little tyke with you on a restaurant run.

Infant and mother at restaurant |

Have baby, will travel — this is the motto of many new parents as they venture out for the first few times after their baby’s birth. If you enjoy eating out, there’s no reason you can’t take your little one along with you. But be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Don’t put Baby in danger

If your baby is in a bucket-style car seat that you take in with you, please don’t put it on top of a high chair. They are absolutely not meant for that purpose. Some restaurants have specially-made car seat holders, which are a better bet, but you’re going to want to keep a hand on the seat at all times, just in case. A better bet is putting your baby alongside you in a booth, if possible.

Do pick a booth

Sitting in a booth will allow you more privacy and comfort, and if your babe starts squalling, you’ll feel less like the center of attention. Not sitting at a table in the middle of a restaurant means that you can focus on your baby, instead of the restaurant focusing on you.

Don’t go during the rush

It’s logical to want to go out to eat at noon and 6 p.m., but those are going to be the busiest times at any restaurant. Wait until the lunch rush is over, or go for an early dinner. It will be less stressful if the restaurant isn’t packed full.

Do feed your babyBaby bottle |

If your baby cries, feed him, whether you breast or bottle feed. Even in restaurants, you don’t have to leave to breastfeed your child — most states in the U.S. have laws protecting your right to nurse wherever you are allowed to be.

Don’t expect to go fancy

Fine dining restaurants and babies don’t often don’t mix. The atmosphere is generally hushed and the sound of a little one will carry. Choose a lively, family-friendly restaurant instead. You don’t have to go for fast food, either — there is probably a warm, happy sit-down restaurant in your town that welcomes families.

Do be flexible

If your baby becomes inconsolable, be prepared to change your plans. Even in the most family-friendly restaurant, a baby who cries for extended periods can be uncomfortable for your fellow diners. The cry of a baby is meant to be jarring and alarming so his needs are taken care of, but if you’re not in charge of the wee one it can be even more difficult to listen to. Arrange to get your food to go if disaster hits, and try again another time.

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