Just because you have a toddler doesn’t mean that you are limited to eating fast food. Believe it or not, you can take your toddler out to eat at a restaurant ! It does require some advance planning though!
I knew of a couple who insisted upon going out to eat with their toddler even though she had an ear infection. Suffice it to say, they had a less than stellar experience that night. I’m sure that the other diners at the restaurant would have said the same thing.
If your toddler is in a bad mood, or just isn’t feeling herself, it’s best to skip the restaurant. You may be able to ignore her bad behavior, but chances are that the rest of the diners in the restaurant won’t be able to do this.
If possible, try to eat during “off hours”. For example, you usually don’t have to wait too long to get a table if you avoid the “rush times”. After 4:30pm until 7pm could be considered “rush times” for dinner. Friday and Saturday nights are usually very crowded at restaurants; Mondays are great nights to eat out because most people don’t do so!
Choose a kid friendly or family restaurant until your toddler is a little bit older and has better manners. Kid friendly restaurants usually are full of other families and if your toddler acts up, very few people will be offended. Be sure to ask if there are kid activities or if the restaurant has coloring pages or crayons to keep your child busy until her food arrives. Restaurants with juke boxes or video games are wonderful for keeping children busy. Be sure to bring extra quarters just in case.
Of course, it’s always best to bring your own entertainment. Before you leave the house, fill a bag with quiet toys, books, coloring pages and crayons. Some crackers and a juice box will help keep your hungry toddler in a good mood until her food arrives.
When ordering food for your toddler, be sure to ask the waitress to put the toddler’s order in first to the kitchen. Mention that you’d like the toddler’s meal to be brought out as soon as it’s ready, instead of having it held until the adult meals are finished. This really helps! If finances permit, be sure to order an appetizer which will keep your child entertained and busy until the food arrives.
It’s important to note that each time you take your child out to eat, it does get a little bit easier. As your child ages, she will learn how to behave and to wait patiently until her meal arrives, until then, the above suggestions can help make your trip out more enjoyable.