Eating out with a toddler… My little guy loves to go out and eat, and he’s usually good, especially when it is breakfast or lunch. I thought I’d pass on some tips from other mothers about entertaining them when you go eating out with a toddler though, as it’s always helpful. This is assuming that you are using common sense in not bringing them to a super-fancy place, taking them when they are tired and/or cranky, etc etc. There is no hope for you if you do that, you are inviting the nightmare and I don’t feel sorry for you ;).
Highchairs – some people swear by them as long as they don’t let them out. Other people like the booster seats. Lil’ Duck refuses both of these options now, and has to sit in the booth next to us like a big boy – we move the salt and pepper right away now though after one unforgettable incident….
I let him walk around while we are waiting for our food if he is antsy – the less time he has to sit at the table, the better.
He always gets his own drink with a straw, preferably with a lid, but otherwise we just hold it for him. He has to sample everyone’s drinks though, so we try to get baby-friendly drinks (he LOVES virgin strawberry daiquiris, but I do get odd looks for that one….). You might want to bring your own sippy if your little one is picky about what they drink though.
We always order something that he likes (usually applesauce, french fries, biscuits, chicken, etc, we aren’t going for health food here). If we know he isn’t going to like anything at the restaurant, we bring something from home (but what place doesn’t have french fries?). We also make sure he gets something that will come out quickly – if they don’t have bread and such that comes out first, we’ll ask for an order of something to come out as soon as it is ready. He gets his own spoon and fork (just the restaurant ones, he won’t use the baby ones anyway so I figure why bother with the hassle).
Crayons are always a big hit, as well as any people around to peek at, and sugar packets. Donatos is the current favorite because of the phone at the table (we wipe it down first) – I pity the kitchen staff, ha ha ha.
When all else fails, let them dip the food in ketchup and play with the bottle, order a stiff drink and eat fast ;).