Eating Out with Young Children

The importance of kid’s meals and family-friendly environments

No one can deny that life changes with children. And very few complain. However, just because you have a little one in your life now doesn’t mean you have to give up eating out at a restaurant. Several establishments, like Nando’s, encourage families to come and taste. These restaurants offer kids menus and special pricing, and some even offer play areas for kids to run off any extra energy. If you want to change up the routine by eating out, then here are a few tips on how to plan the excursion in the case of toddlers and young children.

Research where you want to eat

You want to make sure they are child-friendly. Some higher-end restaurants would prefer you hire a sitter before visiting. You want to make sure that there are kid’s meals available and child-friendly bathrooms as well. Most eateries list on their website whether they have options for kids.

Pack a survival kit

Kids are restless. They’re going to wriggle and ask questions and swing their legs. They might not wait very patiently. It’s always a good idea to pack a small activity kit and extra crayons. While some kid-friendly establishments offer activity sheets, it is my experience that there are rarely enough crayons or they are all the wrong color. Packing a kit also means that if they do the entire sheet, you have a backup plan.

Bring the wet wipes

Children are messy eaters. Their coordination is still developing, so half of their food ends up on their face, a quarter on their hands and lap, and maybe a bit actually in their mouth. Wet wipes are a must for every occasion when it comes to young children. There’s nothing wrong with getting messy so long as they can get clean again afterwards.

Don’t forget the cups

Even if your youngling is learning to drink out of a cup, it’s always a good idea to have backups – be they sippy cups or straw cups. Some kids are uncertain about drinking out of strange glassware, others are attached to their ‘special cups.’ While not every child will have a meltdown without their cup or spill the contents of a glass everywhere, it is better to be safe and bring them along.

Watch for signs of a meltdown- for signs of a meltdown

Not all kids do well in public. They can have anxiety or development issues, but they may also just be really tired or hungry. You know your child better than anyone else in the restaurant. Try to be proactive in watching for the meltdowns. It’s okay to take your kids outside for a moment to calm down, or to get a box for your leftovers and head home.

A Family-Friendly Establishment is not a Daycare

Too often I see children running pell-mell through various shops and restaurants, their parents doing little to watch them. For some strange reason, people have begun to think that employees double as babysitters. This is not the case. Your children are always your responsibility. Please make sure to keep them from darting out into the aisles, tripping up the wait staff, or pestering other diners. Not only can poor behavior be an annoyance to other patrons and workers, it can also be a safety hazard. Hot food and drinks are everywhere, and floors are not fun to fall on regardless of age.

Eating out with toddlers and young kids for the first time can always be an adventure. Sometimes it doesn’t work out well, other times you have a great experience. Don’t be afraid to try new things, just make sure you are prepared.

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