Eating at a sit-down restaurant with young children can be a bit stressful for both children and parents. Little ones often lack patience and waiting for their meal to be served feels like an eternity. However, learning how to act and behave at a restaurant is important and teaching them proper behavior when dining out from a young age helps with the development of their social skills.
Below we share some tips to help make the experience enjoyable for all.
Tips for Eating at a Restaurant with Young Children
- Pick the right spot: Save the very fancy restaurants for when they are older. Start with family friendly restaurants with a more relaxed environment, where you’ll find other families with young kids. If there are other families with kids around trying to keep their own children entertained you will feel better as it is likely they will understand your situation.
- Pack table entertainment: If you know you are going to a restaurant and kids have to sit and wait for their meal then be sure to pack some colouring pages and crayons. Many family friendly restaurants already provide those for children, but you can bring them yourself as well to be safe. I am not a fan of giving iPads or iPhones to kids to play or watch a show while they wait, but I’ve seen kids with their devices while they wait for their order to arrive.
- Make an early reservation and ask for a high chair: Pushing the boys to go out to eat late is always a bad idea. We stick to early dinners and often make a reservation for 5-5:30 pm. We also request a high chair in advance, so we don’t have to worry about sitting arrangements when we are there. One of the advantages of early dinner is quieter, faster service and fewer people to disturb if the kids start getting antsy.
- Talk about manners and etiquette before you arrive: Talk to your children about using forks and spoon instead of their hands while eating, saying please and thank you when being served and being polite. Practice manners and etiquette at home during everyday meals to make an easy transition into social outings.
- Bring a change of clothes and lots of wipes: If you are dining out with a little toddler then be prepared for their clothes to get messy, even when wearing a bib. I always carry baby wipes to clean the boys and bring an extra t-shirt to change for when things get particularly messy. The boys love spaghetti so that’s a popular meal when we go out. They enjoy eating spaghetti but their clothes often come back stained, and sometimes they transfer the mess to our clothes and we end up with stains too! At home, I have OxiClean Pre-treat and in-wash stain fighters to get rid of all of the food stains. I use the White Revive for their or our white clothes, Colour Shield for the colour clothes and, MaxForce Spray for those tough stains like grease. I also love to use the OxiClean MaxForce Spray because you can let it stand for up to a week before washing to remove those really tough stains.
Do you go out to restaurants with children often? What are your tips?
Disclosure: This is a partnered post with Church & Dwight. However, all opinions and views on this post are 100% my own.
9 Comments on “Tips for Eating at a Restaurant with Young Children”
Very thoughtful to share these tips. I’ve seen how hard it can be to get them to behave in a restaurant.
Thanks for the wonderful tips!
Bringing a change of clothes is always a great idea! I learned the hard way when my oldest was a year old and had a big poop all over her clothes and I had no change of clothes. With us my oldest is autistic so we rarely go out to eat the 4 of us but when we do we make sure we get a table outside! that is the only way she remains calm and doesn’t freak out
Your tips are always useful and sensible. Some parents ask that the children be served first so they do not have to wait so long-sounds good to me.
Family friendly restaurants are exacly where we always went with our 7 – Greek, Italian, Yugoslavian and Chinese were always the ones we chose – at least until the children were older.
My one granddaughter is very well mannered and behaved when going out, but sadly my two other grandchildren I will not take out they do not listen at all!
When our children were little eating out was such a challenge we basically avoided it al all costs. These are great tips.
Some restaurants provide crayons and coloring paper. Kid friendly makes it fun for everyone.
I think it’s great that you mentioned how having an early dinner at a restaurant can help you avoid disturbing guests if your children begin to misbehave. Now that my wife and I have decided to take my sister out for dinner on her birthday this weekend, we’d like to make sure that our daughter behaves since she tends to get upset when she gets hungry after school. Maybe we should consider finding a restaurant that we can visit earlier in order to prevent her from getting too hungry.