Today I am sharing our tips and tricks for eating at restaurants with a toddler. Bringing our 16-month-old daughter to restaurants is part of our routine. Over time, we have learned that a few things make the experience easier and more enjoyable.
Tips for Eating at Restaurants with a Toddler
Bring the essentials with you.
We always bring our own bowl/plate, sippy cup, and bib. We like the ezpz mini bowl since it sticks to the table pretty well and we don’t have to worry about it breaking as a ceramic plate could. Some restaurants have plastic kid’s cups, but it’s easier for toddlers to use cups with handles so we bring our own… plus our sippy cups can handle being dropped on the floor.
Pick a child-friendly restaurant.
We always choose a restaurant with a kid’s menu. A kid’s menu is basically a guarantee that the restaurant has high chairs. If you are in Chicago, we highly recommend The Perch and their sister restaurants including Smoke Daddy, Crosby’s Kitchen, and Tuco and Blondie. These restaurants not only offer kid’s menus, but kids also eat free between 4 pm and 6 pm every day!
We always dine early so that restaurants are not as crowded and our food is ready more quickly. This means that we get to brunch before 9:30 am and we go to dinner at 5 pm.
You Might Want to Make a Reservation
If you need a high chair and you think that the restaurant might run out, it’s best to make a reservation.
We love the seatsac.
This isn’t sponsored, but we love the seatsac. The seatsac is a harness that fits over a chair, basically turning any chair into a seat safe for toddlers. Often, we use it with a highchair, which isn’t its intended purpose but it does safely and effectively strap Gwen into a high chair so that she can’t climb out. One thing I have learned as a parents is that the straps on high chairs are not effective. We keep the seatsac in the stroller at all times, it’s so handy and it folds up to be very small. Plus, the fabric manages resists stains and we only have to wash it occasionally.
Bring Something to Keep Your Toddler Entertained
We always keep a couple of books and small quiet toys in the stroller just in case Gwen needs something to play with. Although usually, a cardboard coaster will keep her busy.
Don’t Leave a Big Mess
I always make a point to pick up the food that has fallen on the floor.
Make it Part of Your Routine
We started taking Gwen to restaurants when she was about 8 months old and we have taken her to a restaurant about once a week since then. At this point, she knows all the servers at The Perch, and she is familiar with what happens at a restaurant. She behaves and eats well, so we want to keep dining at restaurants to help reinforce this good behavior.
Stick to Your Child’s Schedule
If you are traveling this might not always be possible, but we always plan to dine out around Gwen’s naptime and bedtime. This way she is happy and not fussy during our mealtime.
Do you have any tips for eating at restaurants with a toddler to add to the list? Please share in the comments!