So, your toddler is great at home but when you go out to eat they’re not so cooperative? You’ve tried everything from bribery to distraction and nothing has worked. Don’t give up! We have compiled a list of parenting hacks for eating out with toddlers to help you get through the difficult times with a little sense of humor and some great tips on how to make it work!
Setting is everything when Eating Out With Toddlers
Going out for a meal can be a little overwhelming for toddlers and let’s be real, there is nothing worse than having an upset child in public with no sympathy or support in dealing with them. For this reason it is important to choose a child-friendly environment with customers and staff who are prepared to deal with unpredictable and potentially unsettled children. Child-friendly establishments will often have distractions available that parents can make use of to placate their unhappy toddlers.
Make it familiar
At home, in the days leading up to your meal out, practice dining with your toddler using their own cutlery set. They can then take with them, as something familiar to have in the new and unfamiliar setting of the restaurant. There are enough new sights, sounds and smells to set them off when you are out and about without making them do something as habitual as eating in a new and unfamiliar way. Choose a reputable brand that will stand the test of time, we love Done by Deer Cutlery, and keep this with you as a lifeline. Toddlers can struggle when their routines are disrupted so having reliable and good-quality tools will make eating out that little bit less stressful for you both.
Never take a grumpy toddler out
This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes it seems like the easier option to drag your grumpy toddler along and hope that they will calm down rather than cancelling your reservation. Trust me, this never works! only take your toddler out when they are in a good mood. Now, this is easier said than done since kids will randomly start crying and won’t stop for hours. However, if you can tell they are in a good mood, then don’t waste it! Be spontaneous and take them out to dinner before something bad happens! make the most of the nice family time you get to have together when they are enjoying themselves.
Get them excited about eating out
A great hack for getting toddlers to behave when eating out is to make it fun for them. Kids are always in a rush to grow up and be like their parents so get them excited about sitting at the ‘adults table’ (even if this is in a high chair) or bring fun games or colouring pages with you that you can use as a distraction. Toddlers are far less likely to become overwhelmed and act out when eating out if they have an engaging distraction.
Always be prepared when Eating Out With Toddlers
If you are in the midst of potty training (god forbid!) be prepared. We recommend phoning ahead to make sure the pub or restaurant you are heading to has appropriate facilities for your toddler. We also recommend looking into a travel potty for emergencies. Versatile travel potties, such as, the OXO tot 2 in 1 go potty, are a superb product for those who are on the go, but even for the likes of going out for a meal, your child may drink more juice than they would at home or there may be a line for the bathrooms. There are so many unforeseen variables that it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and have your own toileting facilities available!
When you take the time to set up a positive environment for your toddler, it will be easier to get them excited about eating out. In this blog post we’ve shared a few tips and tricks that can help you create an enjoyable experience when going out with little ones – from never taking a grumpy child out in public to being prepared. You want your kids to have fun at restaurants, not sit there crying or throwing food! Follow these simple hacks to keep them happy and not ruin your own night of dinner and drinks. If all else fails, ring the babysitter!
What do you think of these hacks? Do you have any fool-proof tips for eating out with toddlers? Let us know!