As a parent, taking your kids out to eat can seem more like an overwhelming experience than an enjoyable family outing. Follow these tips to help make dining out possible.
Taking your baby to a restaurant will be a smoother experience if you plan ahead. Choose a restaurant that is family-friendly and noisy. This way, if your baby does cry, you won’t be as stressed out. It’s also a good idea to choose a restaurant that has space to walk around, either through the restaurant or outside. Taking a walk before your food arrives can help hold your baby’s attention and prevent fussiness.
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Timing is extremely important when taking your baby to a restaurant. Avoid going out to eat at a time your baby usually eats or at a time when he or she is typically tired. This will help cut down on fussiness. Choose a restaurant that has booths where you can place a car seat or booster seat. Bring along toys and, if your baby is old enough, finger food. While suitable food is likely available at the restaurant, it might take too long to arrive. Keep in mind that the first few times you take your baby out to a restaurant might not be leisurely experiences. However, it will become more manageable once you figure out what works for you and your little one.
Getting a toddler to sit through a meal might seem impossible, so remember to set realistic expectations for their behaviour. As your child learns what is expected from them when eating out, their behaviour will improve. Choose a child-friendly restaurant so your toddler will have something appealing to nibble on. Take along snacks so your child doesn’t get overhungry before the food arrives. Order your child a special drink or dessert to make eating out fun, and reward them for good behaviour.
Keeping your child entertained can help prevent meltdowns. Take along some fun things, such as colouring books or small toys from the dollar store. Bath books are great because they can be easily wiped down. Just be sure to not bring out everything at once. Pace activities and eating throughout your outing to keep your toddler occupied.
While school-aged children understand what is expected of them at a restaurant, this doesn’t mean they will always be on their best behaviour. Review the rules with your child before entering the restaurant, as well as the consequences for poor behaviour. For example, give your child three warnings before leaving. Be sure to follow through with the guidelines you set.
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Ordering an appetizer or bread for the table can help keep your child occupied, but bring some activities too, such as travel games or activity books, or play tic-tac-toe on colouring sheets. Be sure to make eating out an enjoyable experience, but reinforce the rules as you would at home to prevent poor behaviour.