Master the art of visiting a restaurant or café with your baby or toddler, so you get to enjoy your dinner, too...
Lazy lunches and gossiping with friends over a coffee are the highlight of the weekend. Just because you’re now kowtow to a routine or a little person’s needs, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy eating out. You’ve just got to get smart about the places you choose and the tricks you deploy to keep your baby amused so you can have some fun, too.
Research baby friendly hotspots
Whether you want somewhere with a play area or staff that are really good with children, post a call out on Twitter or Facebook for venue suggestions based on what you’re after.
Find out about baby facilities
Phone the restaurant beforehand to ask what they have for children, whether that’s highchairs, mini cutlery, a changing area or crayons. That way, you can decide what else to bring or whether it’d be easier to go somewhere else.
Choose a baby friendly time
Think about your baby’s routine – it’s probably not best to go for lunch when he’s going to be grizzly. And chances are your toddler won’t want to sit at a table if he’s usually napping then. Also consider who else might be in the restaurant at certain times. Late afternoon could be quieter than early evening for example, so other diners won’t be so much of a concern.
Take some entertainment
If you’re worried about your toddler running around annoying other diners or your baby getting grizzly, pack some toys or books to keep them occupied. And perhaps download a new app on your phone – it could give you 15 minutes to get through your burger before it goes cold.
Yes, you’re going out to eat – but it won’t hurt to have some crackers or fruit on stand by in case your toddler’s struggling to wait for the food coming out of the kitchen.
Take a break
Your baby’s crying and you’re starting to panic. Take a deep breath and perhaps take him outside for a few minutes to give you both a chance to calm down away from other people. They will understand, but paranoia won’t help your situation.
Put things in perspective
Pasta sauce on the table isn’t a big deal. A few glances from a neighbouring group because your toddler’s a bit whingey won’t make a difference to the rest of your day. Instead of working yourself up, try to laugh things off and carry on with your meal.