5 Tips for Dining Out With Toddlers
Having kids shouldn't mean you have to stop going out to eat. Taking the kids out to eat at a young age teaches them manners and responsibility and exposes them to new flavors and textures. Plus it gives you a break in the kitchen. Below are our top 5 tips for a successful dining out experience with kids.
photo courtesy of: choosingservice.com
- Choose the right restaurant. While Chuck-E-Cheese doesn't have to be your only restaurant choice, it is important to choose a family-friendly establishment. Taking your toddler to a you-could-hear-a-pin-drop white tablecloth restaurant without another kid in sight will only stress mom and dad out. A stressed parent leads to a stressed toddler, which leads to meltdowns. Restaurants with outdoor seating are great because it is easier for the little ones to get up and walk around without bothering other guests.
- BYOP (Bring Your Own Pouch). We are all for ordering off the kids menu for little ones, or even off the regular menu. But actually getting the food to the table takes awhile. If your toddler is already hungry, that can lead to a toddler meltdown. Bring a small snack of yogurt or apple sauce in a Really Little Green Pouch to take the edge off. We know better than anyone that being "hangry" isn't good for anyone.
- Do not go tired. A good nap makes for a good dining out experience. If you take your tired little one out to eat, you are setting them (and yourself) up for failure. Plan your timing around naps and try your best to not throw your normal schedule completely off.
- Come prepared. We like to keep a stash of silent toys and props that are just for restaurants. Silent is the key. Think puzzles and sorting toys that can fit on a high chair. We steer clear of electronics because that takes away from the experience. While we don't expect the kids to be engaged in our conversation the whole time, we don't want to lose them completely to a game or movie, either. Along with coming prepared with toys, be sure to bring anything else you might need and be prepared for Plan B. There is nothing wrong with cutting your losses and skipping dessert or taking your meal to go if you need to.
- Order quickly. Choose your dishes as soon as you can so you have as much time to actually enjoy eating your meal as possible before a potential meltdown sets in. Review menus online ahead of time to arrive even more prepared.
Dining out with toddlers doesn't have to be torture (for you or your toddler). It just takes planning and preparation, like anything else with little ones.
We want to know...what are your tips for eating out with toddlers?
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