The Best (and Worst) of Dining Out With Baby


It’s always aarticle_toddlerrestaurant challenge to take a baby or toddler out to eat. And that’s putting aside the (remote) possibility that the restaurant will go all whack job and boot your kid for not wearing shoes.

Aside from the usual dining-out quandaries — appetizer or straight to main course? Dessert or just post-meal espresso? — there’s a laundry list of other potential issues that a young child literally brings to the table: screaming, fear of wine glasses crashing to the bistro’s tile floor, fear of silverware doing the same, the possibility of flung gruyère mac and cheese, and on and on.

But apparently, Anne V. Nelson of The Boston Globe has mastered the art of enjoying great restaurants with a baby. Although she acknowledges that she and her husband have had to hastily end at least one dinner in order to avoid a mealtime meltdown, she describes some really excellent dining out experiences they’ve managed to have with a not-even-one-year-old.

It all sounds so blissful: being able to enjoy a glass of zippy Zinfandel or some butter-poached lobster, even with a tiny diner in tow. Honestly, it’s something that, prior to having my own child, I never thought I’d experience as a parent, mainly because I had heard so many young-kid-in-restaurant horror stories. Exhibit A: my brother once shared that he took my nephew for pizza when he was, I think, 3 or 4. “How did it go?” I asked. “Fine,” he responded, “until he barfed all over the table.”

Fortunately, my son has yet to vomit in the middle of a dining establishment (yet). But a barf episode before the entrees even arrive has to be the worst case scenario for parents who relish the opportunity to eat out. That said, you tell me: what’s the worst dining-out-with-kids story you’ve got, based on either your own experience or the experience of someone you know? What’s the best dining-out-with-kids story, assuming that you can make any of them sound as delicious as the Globe’s Nelson did? And hell, while you’re telling us stuff, please share your tips for making a meal out with kids go as smoothly as possible.