5 Tips on eating out with young kids

Eating out with babies and young children can sometimes be a challenge, but don't let that stop you. These tips will help make going to a café or restaurant a more enjoyable experience.
These tips on eating out with toddlers and young kids will help make going to a café or restaurant a more enjoyable experience next time you're out and about.

We all know that eating out with babies and young children can sometimes be a challenge, but don't let that stop you.

5 tips on eating out with young kids


1. Planning

Think about the type of café or restaurant you are going to and whether they're set up for small children.
  • Is it suitable for babies and/or kids under 5 years old?
  • 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 highchairs available?

Perhaps stick to your children's 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

  • Go to a café or restaurant slightly earlier than your child’s usual mealtime. Don’t wait until they are really hungry. By the time the meal arrives they are passed eating and likely to be very scratchy.
  • Think about your child 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. Waiting

  • 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 child from becoming too hungry.
  • Another option is to try a buffet style restaurant where the food is ready and no waiting to eat is required.
  • Take quiet toys, books or colouring pens and paper to keep them occupied whilst you’re waiting.
  • Try to take your little one 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. Eating

  • Ask for a child’s menu or child-sized portions off the main menu.
  • Set a good example by eating healthily. If you don’t want your child 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 own children's cutlery along to the café or restaurant is not a silly idea, as not many restaurants have cutlery suitable for small children.

5. Behaviour

  • Try to avoid dining out when your child is very tired, unwell or really hungry as tantrums are more likely to occur.
  • As your child gets 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 children are making a bit of noise remember that this is OK, as long as they are not disturbing other diners. They are children and they don't have to be completely silent.
  • Try to stay calm and relaxed yourself and then your children are more likely to be relaxed and well behaved too.

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