5 Tips on eating out with young kids

Eating out with young kids can sometimes be a challenge, but don't let that stop you. These tips on eating out with toddlers and preschoolers will help make going to a café or restaurant a more enjoyable experience for you and the whole family.
Eating out with young kids can sometimes be a challenge, but don't let that stop you.

These tips on eating out with toddlers and preschoolers will help make going to a café or restaurant a more enjoyable experience for you and the whole family.

5 tips on eating out with young kids


1. Planning to eat out with young kids

Think about the type of café or restaurant you are going to and whether they're set up for small kids.
  • Is it suitable for babies, toddlers and preschoolers?
  • Do they have an outside area for kids to run around in before and after they eat?
  • Do they have a children’s play area with toys?
  • Is there enough room for a buggy or several buggies if you're meeting friends.
  • Do they have kids highchairs available?

Perhaps stick to your kids favourite places to eat. Somewhere that's familiar, where they feel comfortable and know what they like from the menu.

Or try going to cafes and restaurants that have been recommended by friends and family with small children, who can give you a first-hand account of what to expect.


2. Timing your visit to a café or restaurant

  • Go to a café or restaurant slightly earlier than your kids usual mealtime. Don’t wait until they are really hungry. By the time their meal arrives they are passed eating and likely to be very scratchy.
  • Think about your kids and how long they might be able to sit for. Maybe start off with just a coffee and a muffin for morning tea or perhaps just a main meal instead of three courses, as you may find it's too long for them to sit still, and you have to leave before you've finished your meal.

3. Whilst you're waiting for your meals

  • Avoid restaurants where you know there is likely to be a long wait for your meal. Otherwise, go prepared with some healthy snacks in case you do have to wait and to help stop your kids from becoming too hungry.
  • Another option is to try a buffet style restaurant where the food is ready to eat and there's no waiting.
  • Take quiet toys, books or colouring pens and paper to keep your kids occupied whilst you’re waiting.
  • Try to take your kids to the toilet before getting settled into the café or restaurant or whilst you're waiting, as they will always want to go as soon as your meal arrives!

4. Your meals

  • Ask for a kids menu or child-sized portions off the main menu.
  • Set a good example by eating healthily. If you don’t want your kids to have chips for instance, don't order them for yourself as they will only want to eat yours and not eat their own meal.
  • Taking your kids own cutlery along to the café or restaurant is not a silly idea, as not many restaurants have cutlery suitable for small children.

5. Kids behaviour at the café or restaurant

  • Try to avoid dining out when your kids are very tired, unwell or really hungry as tantrums are more likely to occur.
  • As your kids get older talk to them about table manners and how they should behave in a restaurant. For instance no shouting and no running around in the restaurant and how their behaviour affects other diners.
  • Encourage them to order for themselves and to say "please" and "thank you". This also endears them to the waiting staff! 
  • If your kids are making a bit of noise remember that this is OK, as long as they are not disturbing other diners. They are kids and they don't have to be completely silent.
  • Try to stay calm and relaxed yourself and then your kids are more likely to be relaxed and well behaved too.


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