Mr Dad: Taking your baby out to a restaurant

Jan 4, 2008 at 12:01 p.m. ET

Every dad needs support, encouragement, information, confidence and tools to help him be as involved as he possibly can with his new family. Our fatherhood expert, Armin Brott, author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be and Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change, has advice for your growing family.

Baby in Restuarant

Your question:

My husband and I haven't been out to a restaurant since our 18-month old was born. He says we should just take the baby and see what happens. I'm kind of afraid of making a scene. What should we do?

Armin Brott answers:

I think that as soon as you're feeling brave enough, you should go. But there are a few guidelines I'd suggest:

  • Call ahead to see whether babies are welcome and to make sure they have enough high chairs.
  • Don't stay out past your baby's bedtime. Being in a new place can be stressful enough.
  • Stay away from crowded, noisy places unless you know your baby loves that kind of environment.
  • Keep it casual. White tablecloths and crystal wine glasses are to babies what red flags are to bulls.
  • Sit near an exit. You may need to take an upset baby out of the restaurant.
  • If the baby will be eating with you, don't forget his food and a few extra spoons, just in case one (or two) ends up on the floor.
  • If your baby is walking, don't let him visit other tables unless you're absolutely sure that the people there really want to be visited. It may be cute to you but annoying to others. Also, wandering (and crawling) babies are tripping hazards to waiters.
  • If you're holding the baby on your lap, be very, very careful. Babies are born with a sixth sense about restaurants and they will lunge for whatever's hottest and sharpest and what will make the biggest mess when it's spilled.
  • Don't expect the restaurant staff to entertain your baby. They've got plenty of other stuff to do.
  • Don't be embarrassed if you have to leave suddenly. Babies melt down, have blow ups (and blow outs), get sick, etc.

Good luck!

More on taking babies & kids to restaurants

6 Tips for taking kids out to eat

Tips on dining out for families living with autism

Eating out with kids: Restaurant behavior