Taking a Toddler Out to Eat

Taking Toddlers Out to EatIt’s humorous that I am writing this blog when I currently posses several unused restaurant gift cards. Why are they unused? It’s not because I don’t like to eat out, it’s more because taking a toddler to a sit-down restaurant can be intimidating. The possibility of tantrums, constant movement, and having to leave a restaurant are fears that lurk in all moms’ minds. However, we can conquer these fears and successfully take our toddlers out to eat.

Here are some tips for taking your little ones to your favorite restaurants:

Be Timely: It’s important to take your toddler to a restaurant when they are well-rested and not irritable. For example, my daughter is usually getting tired and needs to wind down for her nap and around 12:30 p.m., so a late lunch date is not an ideal situation for us. She does much better right after nap time, so an early dinner would work best. Choose a day of the week when restaurants don’t have long waits. No 2 year old wants to wait an hour at The Olive Garden, no matter how good the breadsticks and salad are.

Be Prepared: I always have a few toys in my diaper bag for Johanna, even though she is 2. I have learned that crayons and stickers work the best in restaurants. Bring a few toys and maybe even something your toddler hasn’t seen yet, like a new coloring book. They will be delighted to color or put stickers on the new pages. Brining along a sippy cup is important and maybe even some small snacks to accompany your toddler’s meal choice. We all know how quickly they can change their minds. If you are potty training, bring extra clothes and pull-ups.

Be Ready: Perhaps you are going to a new restaurant. Look-up the menu online and see what you might like to order. Look at the kids’ menu and see what items they have that you know your little one will enjoy. Use this time in public to work on manners and self-control.

Enjoy Yourself: No mom can plan for everything. It’s hard to know how each restaurant experience will go. Just remember to have fun! You are their mom. Punishments may have to be given while you’re out. Potty breaks may happen more than you like during your dinner. Just remember that you are enjoying family time and helping to mold your child into a healthy member of his or her world. Eating out is fun! If all else fails, get your food to-go and go home and eat.

I think it’s time for us to use those gift cards.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana. She loves to eat out, but she doesn’t do it as much as she used to.

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