We have been dining out with a baby for a little over a year now and there are a few things I learned I wish I would have considered from the get-go.
UPDATE: We now have baby #2 and Lincoln is a full fledged toddler and THIS TRICK is the most genius tip I’ve taken for eating out with a toddler.
One of my favorite evenings of our time in Europe last month was our last night in Spain, just the three of us. We’d spent the morning at the beach with friends, come back for naps, and then enjoyed a slow stroll along the pier until we found a restaurant. We dined outdoors in the evening light and Ben and Lincoln played at the park across the street while we waited for our food. They seated us on white couches and everything was about three times better than we expected. I learned that just because a menu is in seven languages doesn’t mean the food is going to be awful and touristy.
Here are a few too many pictures and if you scroll to the bottom there are tips for dining out with little ones:
^Lincoln wanted to jump into the water – and tried to walk right in a time or two.
^coming back from a little park date – in Spain everyone dines incredibly late and it isn’t unusual for restaurants not to open till 7 pm, after the siesta. Most nights we put Lincoln to bed before we enjoyed baugettes + fruit + cheese + chocolate but our last night we braved it and kept Lincoln up past his bedtime.
^I’m still dreaming of this salmon pasta I ordered (at 7 euros and titled “pasta with salmon” I had really low expectations – but it was amazing!)
^Lincoln drank almost all of my fruit smoothie
^Ben’s dish was almost too pretty to eat
^The white couches that acted as chairs meant Lincoln could come sit with me at the end
Tips for Dining Out with A Baby:
- Pick the right time: You know your baby best, but we’ve found earlier is better. It means Lincoln is less tired but it also usually means the restaurants are less busy and everyone from the staff to the other patrons seem to be more accommodating.
- Bring snacks: Even since Lincoln has been old enough to eat whatever we’re eating, I always come prepared with a few of his favorite snacks. I don’t break them out unless I have to, but they work well to keep him entertained ’till the food arrives.
- Consider toys: Snacks are usually enough to keep Lincoln occupied for the duration of a meal, but I always have a few things tucked away in my purse just in case he needs a bit more entertaining.
- Choose the right restaurant: I think if you’re showing up at 5 pm, you can dine just about anywhere with a baby, but one thing to really consider is the noise level. Make sure it isn’t someplace that will overwhelm your little one with too much noise (although some place with a little background noise to hide the occasional protestations is great).
- Keep things out of reach: We’ve almost had a few disasters with Lincoln grabbing at drinks or dishes we left a little too close to his high chair.
- Think about dining out al fresco: Our easiest dining out experiences have been al fresco with Lincoln. The pressure to be quiet and tidy vanish and if he needs to get some wiggles out before the food arrives, there is usually a place for him to toddle around.
- Take a deep breath: Everyone was a baby and most of the people you’re with have had or will have babies. It’s okay if everything doesn’t go perfectly (in fact, plan for the worst and you’ll be pleasantly surprised :)).
- Engage: Try to include your baby in conversation, pointing out things in the restaurant, and keeping things interesting. Lincoln is always so fascinated taking everything in and is excited about the new environment.