I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of eating at a restaurant with my toddler. I didn’t enjoy it much when Brady was my only child and now that I have two, it’s obviously double the work.
We could of course never go to a restaurant or always get a sitter but sometimes you just
totally don’t want to cook want a nice family dinner out. Sometimes, you momentarily forget about the time he dumped his whole plate on the floor or when she screamed so loud for so long you had to ask for your meal to go. So you go for it. You pack them up and you head to your favorite spot.
Here’s what I do in order to keep my toddler from acting like a wild animal at a restaurant.
How To Survive A Restaurant With A Toddler
1. Pick a noisy place. It doesn’t have to be a sports bar or somewhere with loud music blaring, but don’t pick a place where you know you’ll be shushing your kids every 30 seconds.
2. Bring their own cup. Even if they have plastic kids cups with a lid, my toddler will still spill it. She’s just not great at drinking out of a cup. I know if I don’t bring her own with me that I’ll have to help her hold a cup (fighting her because she thinks she can do it on her own) the whole time and she will leave wearing most of it.
3. Choose a restaurant that brings food out immediately. Like a Mexican restaurant that brings chips, or an Italian place that brings bread-sticks or any restaurant that leaves peanuts on the table or serves a bread basket. Something to give them to snack quickly helps.
4. Bring electronics to entertain. Eventually they’ll get bored, it’s going to happen, and the crayons they hand out don’t hold my kids attention for longer than a minute. That is why we have iPhones and tablets. Save the big guns for last, though, because eventually they’ll get bored with that, too.
5. Go when the conditions are favorable. Do not take your little one to a restaurant when they haven’t napped. Or when they have already thrown five tantrums that day. Or when you just know you’re walking into a disaster. Pick a time that they will be well rested and it’s not nearing bedtime.
Here are a few things that make eating at a restaurant with a toddler much easier:
Disposable Placemats – Keep a pack of these with you and easily cover the table so you can spread your little ones food out.
Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy – Have they thrown their toy on the dirty restaurant floor 10 times? This little gadget keeps all their goodies off the floor – so smart.
Go Anywhere Booster – If they’ve outgrown the high-chair (or refusing it like mine does) let them sit in a regular chair by bringing this handy, compact, lightweight portable booster chair. Genius!
Cool Cap – If you forgot the sippy cup like I mentioned above, you can grab this and place it on any cup and turn it into a spill-proof toddler cup!
Stay Put Suction Bowls – Don’t worry about them tossing their plate on the ground, just use these suction bowls that will stick right on the table.
In just days, these odd, but super-effective tips will help you raise a happier, calmer toddler. Check out Happiest Toddler on The Block and tell me what you think.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.