Restaurant Dining with Your Baby
Expect to make some adjustments to normal meal routines
Traveling away from home often entails eating at restaurants – don’t let the fact that you have a baby deter you from this. Just be sensitive to differing cultural attitudes to this practice and ask a local to suggest a family-tolerant establishment for you to eat at.
This doesn’t mean you’re restricted to fast food and family chains, but adjustments such as having your main meal at noon or choosing an outdoor sidewalk café might be in order. By the way, don’t expect every restaurant (especially abroad) to be equipped with a restroom diaper change station.
Younger babies can be the most unobtrusive dining companions. They’re often content to sleep away the time or can be pleasantly self-entertained right in their stroller or portable car seat. Passing the tyke back and forth between adults can give everyone a break to eat and a chance to cuddle. If the baby gets cranky, be courteous to your fellow diners and have someone go for a walk until the mood subsides.
If your older baby is sitting up and eating at the table, step one will be to remove all weaponry from the grab zone – knives, forks, water glasses, candles, salt shakers and the like. Many restaurants have high chairs but make sure you inspect it for missing straps, rusty table trays, sharp edges and other safety hazards before placing your child in it. Consider traveling with a portable high chair that straps onto a big chair or hooks onto the table edge if you are in a place that might not have acceptable high chairs on hand.
Request a seat by the window or near the kitchen – the commotion may help entertain your child, but try not to position the baby’s chair in the line of traffic as distracted waiters with hot plates will be zooming by.
At this stage, it doesn’t matter if the restaurant has a children’s menu. You’ll be carting your own milk and baby food supplies, or you can simply share something appropriate off your plate – bring a portable food mill or mash some steamed veggies with a fork. You can always get hot water to prepare formula or instant cereal at the table. If all else fails, there’s probably a banana in the kitchen that can make an instant meal for the emerging eater.
It’s best to bring your own tot-sized cutlery as even a dessert spoon may be too big for a baby’s mouth. Consider traveling with a small restaurant kit so you’ll always have a disposable bib, plastic spoon, wipes, snack and distraction (toy) at the ready.