It’s a normal part of family life to want to take your baby or toddler out to a restaurant for family meals and special occasions. There’s no reason why you have to leave your baby or toddler at home and not enjoy going out to your favorite restaurant or to that special family event. Start bringing your baby or toddler from a young age, take them to restaurants and hotels. Getting them out into diverse surroundings can be great for socialization.
- Be Organized
Be super organized when you are going out for any family meals or outing. Ensure that you have bottles, soothers, nappies, change of clothes for babies, toys for toddlers and older children. This will entertain them and keep them busy, also include your toddler or child in conversation while you are waiting for your meal to arrive at your table. With older children, let them be involved with the menu and help them to decide on a healthy option. If your toddler or child is getting a little bored or you anticipate a tantrum, determine how to prevent one as soon as possible. Leaving the table and going for a little walk around the restaurant, taking out a new toy always helps, or give them a “special task” to help distract them. “Eye Spy”, the Alphabet game, and others are great ways to distract children.
- Choose the right Restaurant and location
Look for places that are child friendly and are family ordinate, a restaurant that has that little bit of extra room to move around if need be with a busy toddler. This is a great way to distract if your toddler or child is getting a little bored, having a small tour of the restaurant or hotel before your meal as long as you don’t inconvenience other customers and staff. This can really help blow away the cob webs and keep baby or toddler from getting too bored. Look for some distractions too, a large painting, photos or an aquarium in the restaurant. A playground or a garden nearby? Even better. Definitely stay away from places with low lights and fine china. Call beforehand to see if they offer high chairs or boosters seats, if not, they probably not child friendly.
- Time it around your child’s routine
Time it around your baby, toddler or child’s routine. If it’s not possible to actually eat at baby’s mealtime. I would recommend feeding baby or toddler at home and let them have a snack instead or let them have their afternoon sleep. When you are on summer holidays and dinner will run past bedtime, consider bringing the stroller and don’t forget any blankets, teddies and soothers. Try not to make plans that will keep you out late, though. Babies, toddlers and children do get over tired and over excited and it then may take longer to settle to bed.
- Bring toys
Bring along a special bag of toys or special little goodies that baby, toddler and child doesn’t get to play with at home or in the car. Small books, coloring books, pencils, cars, dolls, flash cards puzzles, sticker books, and felts. Don’t take out everything at once the trick is maximizing your time and baby’s or toddler’s attention span and reserve your surprise. Older children get bored easily and it’s one way to trigger a tantrums and bad behavior. Small books, coloring books, pencils, cars, dolls.
- Sitting at the table
Take away any dangerous items from the table and anything that baby or toddler might grab and throw. Toddlers and children that are sitting in highchair and booster seats make sure they are strapped in and safe. For toddlers you can make eating fun, let them hold their food and feed themselves. Let them dip their food in sauces, this is one way to lengthen their ability to engage. The trick is to engage and communicate with your baby or toddler. If baby or toddler is kept busy, it gives you time to enjoy your meal. Don’t be disappointed if the first or second time isn’t as successful as you’d like, getting them out and having them learn this behavior is the first step to many happy family outings.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.
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