Dining on the Road with Older Babies and Young Toddlers

We eat out while in town and close to home, but eating at restaurants becomes very necessary when we’re on the road.  Part of the way we experience the culture and characteristics of a new place is through the food.  The local eateries provide us with the tastes and flavors unique to the areas in which we are visiting.

Young tots are unpredictable, however we’ve found a few things that we can rely on to help us while eating out with Bergen.  When we stick to these tips, we find that everyone has an enjoyable and relatively stress-free meal!

1. The Highchair.  We make sure to strap Bergen in securely (as long as straps are available) to avoid a possible escape.  Be wary of the highchairs that attach to the table.  We thought it was pretty cool when a restaurant provided one a few months back.  Boy were we disappointed.  We didn’t realize how much Bergen moves in his seat until then.  He had the table rocking and rolling with drinks splattering everywhere.  It also didn’t help that we were seated at a long family style table making other diners a part of our Bergen earthquake.  We were out of there fast.

2. Watch Out! We move utensils, plates, and glasses out of reach, and are careful of hanging table clothes.  We are also on the ready when the server comes to set food or drinks on the table.  Not all realize that our little monster is capable of grabbing, throwing, and breaking.

3. Order Up!   Bergen has done wonders for my ordering speed.  I can now scan the menu quickly and efficiently to figure out what I’d like to eat.  If you know where you are going ahead of time, check out the restaurant’s menu before you arrive.  If we need more time, we at least order something to start with that we all can enjoy.

4. BYO Finger Food.  More and more, we can order items that Bergen can eat and likes to eat.  We can also set aside portions from our entrees for him.  While we wait for our food to come though, it’s essential for Bergen to have his own appetizers.  We bring along cheese, puffs or cheerios, an avocado, and berries, just to name a few examples.

5. Sit Near the Action. We try our best to get seated by some built in entertainment.  Some may call it being nosy, but Bergen loves watching other people.  We think this is great because it takes some of the pressure to entertain off of us.  We’ve been lucky enough to be where Bergen can watch and listen to an accordion player, a pizza dough thrower, and big open windows with friendly people walking by waving at him!

6. The Noisier, the Better! It’s just less stressful when the eatery is already noisy.  Then we aren’t worried about Bergen disturbing other diners with his squeals and babbles.

7. Emergency Stash. It doesn’t hurt to have a few small toys and books on hand for when Bergen is finished eating.  Cloth napkins work in a pinch though!  Everyone loves an impromptu game of peek-a-boo, right?

8.  Check the Sleep Meter. If Bergen is too close to his nap or bedtime, we don’t bother with eating out.  It’s just not worth the trouble for anyone involved.

What are your tips for eating out with kids? We’d love you to share in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “Dining on the Road with Older Babies and Young Toddlers

  1. These are such terrific tips. I’m a mother of four. So, I identify with (and agree with) all your suggestions. The only thing I would add is: Be prepared with a packet of wet towelettes. They can be a godsend when ketchup or chocolate wind up all over your little darling’s hands and face:)

  2. Great tips! Love your bit about the “sleep meter.” I’ll add that I always bring a full package of wipes… To clean the table down… A toy that’s fallen on the floor the seventh time… And for averys very messy face…!

  3. Solid tips! We often pre-fed our babies and toddlers before going to a restaurant so we didn’t have to worry as much about a fussy, hungry child who might or might not eat what was available there. BYO toys and distractions is a must. Request a booth so you can sit on the end and keep your wiggly toddlers and preschoolers who have grown out of the high chair from escaping. Our kids are loud, so even with school-age kids, we are still better off in a bustling restaurant where their chatter and squabbles won’t be noticed.

    • Thanks, Allison. Lucky for us, Bergen’s number one pastime is eating! We’re happy with this because we obviously love to eat too 🙂 I like the booth idea—once he’s out of the highchair, that’s going to be hard! Being able to strap him down is quite handy.

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