You’ve seen this before: a toddler breaks out a world-class tantrum at your favorite restaurant. Diners are looking over at the family, judgment painted on their faces. The food at this particular table is everywhere; toddlers are messy eaters, after all, and this tantrum probably included some food flying around. The parents are at a loss when it comes to calming down their child, and finally, the party is discreetly asked to leave.
It’s a familiar scene, and it’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy. If you’re a first-time parent and wondering how to prevent this from happening to you, read on. Here are 5 tips for taking your little ones out for a nice dinner.
Call ahead and check if the restaurant is family-friendly. I know, I know. Back in the day, all you had to worry about was if anyone had a peanut allergy or if the tapas came with wine, but ensuring that the restaurant you’re going to has high chairs says so much if they’re family-friendly. In addition, this will help you gauge if the establishment welcomes children and have that extra bit of patience required.
Don’t dive into fine dining just yet. If it’s your first time eating out with your little one, then you might want to hold off on the Michelin Star places first–fine dining restaurants tend to be quieter than most other establishments. You’ll want to see how well your child behaves in other public settings first before you go anywhere that’s black-tie. It’s also a good idea that for your first time eating out with a toddler, you stick to a one-course meal, no appetizers or desserts, as waiting times between courses might be a tantrum trigger.
Bring supplies. And I don’t just mean diapers (but of course, bring diapers). Having a coloring book and crayons in your baby bag is just good preparation for long wait times. Anything that will distract a child from making too much noise and disrupting other diners will do. And take a Bibiluv mat with you, too! This will help minimize the mess that your toddler is inevitably going to make.
Tired toddlers are a handful! I will never ever forget what my mom told me: a tired toddler is a grumpy toddler. And grumpy toddlers tend to be more troublesome. Heck, even adults who don’t get enough sleep tend to be crankier than the lucky 8-hour people. Plan your dinner out around your child’s sleep schedule: one hour after your child’s just woken up from a nap is ideal.
Take your little one away from the table every 20-30 minutes. Not for a scolding, mind you. Sitting still requires a lot of impulse control, and that’s just something most toddlers just haven’t developed yet at that age. A walk every 20 to 30 minutes is a great way to give your toddler a mini-adventure and sort of refresh her/him for more sitting-still time when you get back to the table.
So there you have it. These are the 5 main things that you can do to help make sure that you have an actually pleasant night out with your toddler. Do remember, however, that every child is different, and there are just some situations where a tantrum is all but avoidable. But with a little practice and a lot of patience, you can be sure that your next dinner out with your little one will be a breeze.