Dining Out with a Toddler? 10 Tips to Keep You Sane

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Face it: Americans love to eat out. I think the economy would have tanked long, long ago if it weren’t for the restaurant industry. That’s why we owe it to our children, the future of our country, to encourage the support of our eating establishments. Thus the suggestions below which were gleaned from years of embarrassing dining experiences, both with my toddler grandchildren and with my own kids long, long ago.

DISCLAIMER: These are only suggestions. Pleasant results are not guaranteed.

IMG_35661. Choose a family-friendly restaurant so that when your toddler inevitably acts up, everyone will throw you a knowing glance instead of a poison dart.

2. Do not choose a fast food eatery. Kids love them. They do not present a challenge.

3. Never attempt this venture on your own. Always bring another adult whom you would like to torture.

4. Before you go, aside from the usual diapers, etc., you will need the following items:

  • a dvd player with your child’s favorite dvd’s. If you do not have one, increase the number of items in the next suggestion to 10.
  • 5 of your toddler’s favorite playthings (toys with buttons, animations and music are best)
  • favorite snacks -- so that when the meal is inevitably delayed, his mouth will be too full to cry
  • a pre-filled sippy cup to prevent spillage (even if your toddler has already been weaned from one -- he’ll only be confused for a short time… I think).
  • plastic utensils -- to prevent the toddler’s natural urge to make noise

5.  Do not bring the following:

  • books (which you will have to read in between bites of your own meal) or for that matter,
  • any toy which requires your interaction
  • any toy or object which your toddler loves to throw or bang

6. While you are getting the little one out of the car, have someone run ahead to set things up.

7. Alert the maitre d’ that you will need the following:

  • a hi chair with a strong, working buckle
  • a table within site of a tv (always try to choose a restaurant that has one, a tv, that is – tables they have… I think).
  • a meal or part of a meal ready and waiting before the child is seated
  • a compassionate waiter or waitress.

8. Do not let your child enter the restaurant on foot or he will be diverted from the task at hand.

9.  Give your toddler his sippy cup or snack as you lower him into his seat and buckle him up. He’ll never know what happened.

10. Should your child need to be diapered mid-meal, opt for the bathroom rather than the car, since he will never willingly re-enter the restaurant.

As I’m writing all this, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. So, on second thought, the heck with the economy, maybe you should just eat in.

Photo Credit: jessicafm.

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