Anyone else miss having a meal where you don’t have to talk someone off the ledge? This can often be dinner (or lunch or breakfast) with a toddler!
We love eating out, but we curbed it a ton when we had our kiddo. BabyCoolJ and I have a weekly breakfast playdate with his bestie. And now with our home on the market we get kicked out a lot and eat out 5+ a week since January.
Which means that I have this whole behaving while eating out down….well, not really. #toddlerlife! But, I can offer tips to make it an easier experience, especially with a lot of trial and error on our part!
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Here are seven helpful tips to survive eating out with your toddler:
Bring healthy snacks with you. It always keeps my kiddo calm to have something to munch on, especially cause he sees others eating. We try to keep it healthy and avoid the bread, so I always have a stash of his favorite snacks. Here are a few of our must have’s:
I also DIY his own trail mix:
Little Duck Organics Tiny Freeze Dried Fruit (and this is his fav snack anytime and it’s my go-to if I don’t have any fresh fruit)
And our favorite snack container to put it in: Munchkin Stainless Steel Snack Catcher – this is an awesome one because it keeps everything mess-free and entertains him as he gets pieces out little by little.
Mentally prepare yourself for anything. I quickly learned that things will never go as planned. If my husband and I are prepared for anything, including packing up our food and leaving, it makes it so much easier to deal. It rarely happens, but we have had to leave twice. Sometimes we just have to take him to a bathroom or hallway and have some quite time so he can calm down. Talking to him always helps, and we are back at the table.
Dine alfresco when you have the choice. It is so much less stressful eating outdoors. He can be a little louder, make a little more mess and we can chat among ourselves in peace. This can be tricky in Texas, so we take full advantage in the Spring and Fall!
Bring along some special toys. These toys are “special” because he will only get them at a restaurant. They entertain him, are easy to wipe down and do not have multiple pieces. These are my go-to’s right now for a 2-year-old:
Mini Magnetic Drawing Board
Kingseye Water Painting Educational Graffiti Book
Barkley Dog Buckle Toy (I’ll be honest, I LOVE this for travel but I can’t take this to a restaurant cause I’m a germaphobe. Great option otherwise, it entertains for a long time!)
Quiet Book for Toddler’s
Ask for the bill as soon as you get your food. Seriously, I love a leisurely meal as much as the next guy, but if I have a toddler with me please don’t forget to check on us! Sometimes we wait for a full 10 minutes after we are done eating to ask for the bill, and that is when our kiddo loses it the most! We involve him in paying the bill (which he LOVES) and always get the bill early so we can leave when we are ready.
Explore seating arrangements for your kiddo. Even thought BabyCoolJ doesn’t sit in a high chair at home, we have learned he must be in a high chair at a restaurant. It contains him, gives him boundaries and it even keeps his voice down! When we have tried a booster he just goes nuts. Nope, high chair is staying for us!
And if you are finding yourself eating out a lot like us, go to a restaurant with built-in entertainment! My son loves a fun Hibachi experience and I bet yours will too! Lunch is a great option because it is cheaper and no one’s there for a romantic date.
Do you have any other tips to add? I’d love to hear them!