As with anything else involving young children, preparation and organization are keys to a successful restaurant experience. The goal when taking children to a restaurant? To make sure they are fed and entertained, so that you get a chance to eat too. If the kids are happy, you will be happy!
Here are our best suggestions for ensuring group happiness:
- Choose well. Check CityKiddy to know whether a restaurant has the right menu, high chairs, or space for changing a diaper or parking your stroller. You don’t necessarily have to have all those things, but you will be more relaxed if you know what you can and cannot expect.
- Make a reservation. Minimize your wait time, especially during peak hours (e.g., weekend brunch). This is also your chance to tell a restaurant that you need a high chair, which may be in limited supply.
- Order quickly for your children, even if you’re not ready to order for yourself. The sooner kids get their food, the better.
- Bring entertainment. Quiet activities (coloring books, sticker books, small toys) are best, but if you have to, there’s no shame in pulling out small electronics. Just be sure to keep the volume low or on mute.
- Don’t be so quick to rule out a restaurant that doesn’t have a kid’s menu. It’s always great to try something new. If the entrées are too big or too adventurous, look to appetizers or sides. Some restaurants are open to special, simple requests for a child, such as plain scrambled eggs, pancakes, or pasta with butter and cheese.
- An upset child is usually hungry or bored. But if neither food nor entertainment is enough to soothe your child, then bring him outside to calm down. Your fellow diners shouldn’t have to listen to an outburst, and it will help to ease your anxiety too.
- Unless you know otherwise, assume a restaurant has limited space for strollers. Bring a stroller that folds and can be tucked into a corner. Some restaurants have a “no stroller” policy, meaning you will have to leave your stroller on the sidewalk.
- Stay calm. Even if you just had to change a dirty diaper on the floor with your back pressed against a toilet, remember you are hanging out with your child and one day you will miss even the ickiest of moments. Then go back to your table and order another glass of wine.