Dining out with baby can be tricky, but there’s no need to limit yourselves to take-out for the rest of the baby stage. If you love eating out but aren’t sure how to tackle the logistics, consider these 5 tips for visiting your favorite restaurants, baby in tow!
1. Pay attention to the schedule.
Heading to grab dinner as a family right before bedtime or an afternoon nap isn’t the best idea. Instead, opt to dine out when baby is well-rested and lively. He/she will enjoy the excitement of watching her surroundings, and you won’t be dealing with over-tired fussiness.
2. Consider the establishment.
Does the menu offer baby-friendly and healthy foods, like fresh fruit, rice or veggies? Is the ambiance family-friendly? Is the service quick? Is there easy access to a back patio or quiet room in case baby is overstimulated and needs a break? Consider your baby’s personality and the surrounding environment and prepare accordingly. A good rule of thumb? If the establishment doesn’t offer high chairs, it’s generally a baby-free zone that you might want to save for date night or when baby is older!
3. Pack appropriately.
Preparation is key in keeping baby happy and entertained during meals. Opt for bite-sized snacks and a sippy cup to keep him/her well-fed, as well as a few quiet toys like books, blocks or stuffed animals. Be sure to include sunblock and a sunhat if you’re eating outdoors, and a sweater for chilly A/C dining is always a good idea.
4. Consider the relationship.
We’ve found that it’s pretty difficult to have a deep conversation while fielding the needs of a baby in public. If you plan to meet friends for dinner that you haven’t seen in awhile, or if you need to discuss something important, it might be best to leave baby at home with a caretaker to avoid surprise interruptions. But if you’re simply looking for a fun atmosphere to enjoy as a family, or with friends whom you see often (or are juggling their own babies/kids as well!), give it a go!
5. Tip well.
Lastly, consider your waiter or waitress. Serving a table with a baby presents a unique set of challenges, like being mindful of hot plates or easy-to-spill cups, and undoubtedly cleaning up a pile of spilled/dropped/thrown(!) food underneath the high chair. I always like to apologize to our waitress in advance for the inevitable mess, and make sure she knows we’ll do everything we can to help her clean up after we leave.
Tell me, what are your favorite tips and tricks to dining out as a family? I’d love to hear some of your tried-and-true techniques!