It is perfectly normal for parents to avoid dining out with their toddler considering the child’s tantrums, extreme enthusiasm, restlessness and also probably, a limited interest in new cuisine. But shying away from it not only makes you stay at home and miss those relaxing moments with your family but also, it prevents normalising the dining out experience for your child. Of course, dining out with a toddler is no walk in the park. Having a toddler in tow, undoubtedly, needs a proactive parenting. It needs lots of patience and planning but even then, it could go wrong in every possible way. So, here are a few tips to increase the success rate of your trip to restaurants with your toddler.
Choose the right restaurant:
When you are taking out a toddler with you for having food, make sure the restaurant is kids friendly. If you are not sure, call up and check if the restaurant has high chairs, kids menu and offer activities for kids. If you choose a very fancy restaurant, you are setting up yourself for a huge disappointment. You will obviously be angry and embarrassed if your child is disruptive.
Pick the right moment:
Thumb rule to enjoy dining out with your toddler is never take your child to the restaurant when he is very hungry or over-tired or extremely sleepy. If you do so, you would definitely regret the decision. Make sure the time you schedule to go to a restaurant is near to your kid’s usual meal time and not very tired and well-before his bedtime. Because your kid can actually change from cute, adorable and pleasant kid to the most hungry and notorious monster in a very short span of time. Also, try to have the “the early bird” approach to avoid the dining rush. This could also make you feel less embarrassed if your kid throws tantrums.
Pack your supplies:
Unlike adults, sitting in one place for more than 10 minutes looking at each other is near to impossible for a toddler. He needs different activities to keep him engaged. So pack up a few toys like puppets and quiet toys. Also, try to find out new games which could keep your kid busy while you and your partner enjoy the food.
The restaurant might be kid-friendly and provide kid’s food. But during the waiting time, your kid might become restless or your child might not like the food there. In any case, it is best to have a back-up. Carry food which your kid likes or at least, take some crackers your child can munch on during the waiting time.
Place your order ASAP:
When you go to a restaurant, place the order for you and your kid as soon as possible as you never know when your kid starts feeling worked up. Always order your food and your kid’s food together. Otherwise, it might backfire and could make your kid squirmy while you are having food and the enjoyment will be begone.
Keeping busy while waiting:
It would be difficult for your enthusiastic toddler to sit in a high chair for more than 10 minutes and even the toys or the crayons and paper might not come to your rescue at times. In that case, take your child for a walk and get some fresh air or go to the window and show him the busy streets or moving cars. This would help him in not saying no-more-highchair during meal time.
Be actively engaged during mealtime:
You absolutely don’t want your kid to feel left out once the food arrives. So, keep him engaged. Sometimes, feed him and the other times let him feed himself. Mealtime is a perfect opportunity to build your kid’s vocabulary too. Explain to him what he is eating. Talk about its texture. Talk about the surroundings too.
Be ready to pack-up:
Dining out with a toddler is like standing on the sword’s edge. The tantrums and time-outs are always just around the corner. Your child might be self-entertaining and a total rockstar at one moment or bang the spoon and display the tantrums the next moment. So don’t get over-comfortable. Be ready to get the food boxed in and pack up if your kid feels he had enough.