My husband and I love to go have a meal out with friends. Having a baby definitely can complicate that, though. We’ve learned a few tricks over the last year or so for keeping our son happy and entertained at the table.
1. Booths are your BFF. Booths are the best, because you can use a booster seat or let your little one climb around in a fairly contained area that is padded. When we are out with friend, we put him between us in the booth.
2. Make sure your little one feels included. Our son hates to watch everyone eat if he can’t be a part of it. So we try to order something off the menu he can nibble on. Rice, beans, bread, fruit… most restaurants will have a good option. Then we give him his own plate, so he feels like he’s part of the group. We also pack a bunch of finger food snacks from home to give him.
3. Don’t forget toys. A lot of restaurants have little crayons and coloring sheets and toys for kids, but we still pack our own to occupy him, in case he starts to get fussy or bored. We also bring our tablet and have a few of his favorite movies ready to go!
4. Just breathe. Go into it knowing that it is going to be more work than if you were dining child-free. But try to just remember that the calmer you are, the better it is for everyone. If you get overwhelmed, go outside for a moment for some fresh air and then come back in.
5. Let them interact. We encourage our son to interact with the other people we are dining with so that he feels like he’s being seen and acknowledged. That helps soooo much to keep him from acting out for attention. Luckily, we’ve got great friends who love to watch him do all his tricks and show off, so he hams it up and they love it.