10-Step Plan for Successful Dining Out with Babies

Hubs and I finally got a chance to use a gift card for a popular franchise restaurant this week, three of the five kids in tow. I loved the look on the host’s face when she asked how many and I answered, “Four please.” We all looked and mentally counted. I adjusted my answer, “I mean five.”

She leads us to the table she has prepared for us. Two baby seats and one kid’s menu. I know the looks we were getting. I used to give the same look when I was enjoying a meal out and a family with kids walked in.

“Please don’t seat them by me,” I’d think. “I don’t get to eat out very often and I want to enjoy this meal without screaming kids next to me.”

And worse yet (before I had kids of my own of course), I’d think to myself. “Geez, can’t these parent’s control their kids and teach them some manners.”

Fast forward to our night out. The host seats us in the middle of the large dining room. We’re now the spectacle in the fishbowl. Everyone takes their assigned seat and we peruse the menus. We’re ready to order. People are watching us. They are moving their mouths and though I can’t hear what they are saying, I know they are talking about us.

Half-way through dinner a lady leans over and give us kudos on “how well behaved our children are.” It starts a trend.

As people in the dining room finish their meals and head out, they stop by to say, “What cute kids, they are very quiet (or well-behaved/great manners/super cute…etc)!”

Phew! A successful meal for us! But it is not without a lot of preplanning. Here’s the plan:

1. Choose a restaurant with lots going on (sports, colorful walls, music, other kids).

2. Time the meal when the babies (9-month-old twin girls) have had a chance to nap on the way to the restaurant (for us it’s an hour drive to the establishment). We bring warm water in a Thermos from home to mix formula.

3. Prepare bottles of milk in the van before heading in. This keeps them busy for the first 10 minutes as we get seated.

4. Know pretty much what you want to order before you go in. Order right away. Order something you can entice the babies with (French fries, mashed potatoes, carrots).

5. Have an endless supply of Cheerios or other baby treats. Also, a few small toys.

6. Let them chew on the cardboard drink coasters. It’s okay.

7. Bring baby food and bust it out just before the adult meals arrive.

8. Order a glass of water with a straw. Let them get sips of water. This is an endless game.

9. Adults should not dilly-dally when eating. Eat up because if you don’t you might not get to finish. Plan on taking a leftovers-bag home with you.

10. Keep your expectations low. This is the best advice really. When the adults are uptight and freaking out, the kids feed off of that. Relax. Enjoy the 15 minutes you might get to enjoy that $50 meal.

Okay so by now you’re thinking that’s a mighty-good plan. It’s really just luck. On this night, we had great luck. We came, we ate, we enjoyed… and we took home a leftovers bag.

~~Angie @ www.mothersapronstrings.com~~