Eating out with a toddler is a finesse. Look, I GET IT. Quite honestly, some days it’s just much easier to order in or cook at home rather than going out. Kaylie is actually very well-behaved when we’re out and we are so grateful for that! Fortunately, she is also a FOODIE like us so as long as we have food on her tray she will sit patiently in her seat for the majority of our meal time. Which means Mommy & Daddy can actually eat, too! Here are some tips that we’ve implemented & have experienced through trial & error. I hope this is beneficial in that you would enjoy many more outings with your little one!
It Starts At Home
Kids are very intuitive. What they can get away with at home, they’ll definitely do it in public. At home, we always put Kaylie in her booster seat for meals & place the food tray over her, even if we’re feeding her and she’s not actually picking at the food herself. Whenever she throws things over the chair we make sure to let her know that it’s NOT okay. Even though she still does it from time to time, at least she knows that it’s wrong. Implement good behavior by making her understand that screaming, throwing food, and tantrums are not tolerated. The minute Kaylie starts to play with her food we take it away from her. When she gets full she would whine to be taken out of her seat, but she usually doesn’t make a huge fuss out of it. Reason with them; trust us it WORKS! Look at them and say “It’s Mommy & Daddy’s turn to eat, okay?”
I always make sure I pack the necessary things to make a trip out more successful. I bring her own bowl, scissors, and spoon just in case the restaurant doesn’t have anything kid-friendly. If it’s somewhere local, I usually heat up her food at home so that when we get there, I can feed her right away as we’re waiting for our own food. At least then, when she wants to mum mum our food it’ll be extra & I would know she’s not hungry. I cannot STRESS how important it is to have scissors handy! When a toddler is hungry, they want to eat right away. Have plenty of snacks in your bag that you can offer to them as well! We bring her own booster seat so that she can have her own food tray. It’s an extra thing to take along, but it makes SUCH a huge difference! I also make sure I have plenty of washcloths to wipe her up with.
Know The Restaurant
Ever since I became a mom, I started to pay attention to things I normally wouldn’t. Does the restaurant have a changing station? Is it roomy enough for a high chair? Where’s the best place to sit so that your kid can roam a bit if they’re tired of sitting? It won’t always be convenient, but the more knowledge you have of the place, the better your experience would be!
Have Random Toys With You
I always have random toys in my bag that I can bust out when Kaylie gets bored. As long as it’s new, she loves it. It could be a chapstick, straws, a spoon, etc. When all else fails we play her favorite songs on the phone while we finish eating. Sometimes it’s best that you keep these toys separate so that they only see it while out. It makes it more exciting for them to play with something new as oppose to what they would see at home.
Eat, Then Switch
I think this is pretty much a no-brainer! It’s very rare that both my husband & I could eat at the same time, but as Kaylie is getting older it is happening more often. Thank goodness! My husband usually eats faster, so he gets started on his food first while I prep hers. He’s so sweet though, he always feeds me while I feed her so that I don’t get too hungry. After he’s done, we switch seats and I eat in peace while he entertains her. This works out for us because I can’t eat very fast, so I can enjoy my food slower knowing that they’re both full & well taken care of. I guess that’s the wife/mom side of me.
Don’t Confine Them
When we get to a restaurant we don’t put Kaylie in her seat right away. We play with her & engage her in picking out food from the menu. We don’t set her down until the food gets there so she doesn’t spend too much time in her seat. Also, when she sees food she gets distracted and doesn’t mind being put down. When we are all done with our meals, we take her out of the seat & let her roam around. This is where a booth table comes in handy! This way she correlates & cooperates with sitting down to enjoy her meals knowing that she will be taken out after we’re all done eating.
Give Them Compliments
Toddlers thrive on the fact that they’re doing good! When Kaylie does something favorable, we clap & say “good girl”! She even claps for herself sometimes, haha. It motivates them to continue with those good habits to get a positive feedback from us. On the contrary, Kaylie hate it when we’re upset at her. She pouts and usually does one of two things: gets really quiet and leans onto us knowing she’s wrong, or makes a silly face to distract us. They understand more than we think they do, communicating with them early on is SO important!
What Are Your Thoughts?
If you have any tips & tricks that have worked for you, please share with me!