7 Expert Tips for Mastering Dining with Little Ones

I was shocked to see Chef Grant Achatz’s little tweet, which caused quite the typical stir on social media. As a mom of five, I know, things come up. If you are looking forward to date night and your babysitter cancels, would you cancel? No way! I would drag my 15-month-old right along. I have never once thought about not taking my children into a restaurant. That said, I thought this was the perfect chance to catch up with my friend, Katie Herrick Bugbee, senior managing editor of, to discuss her thoughts on the true master skill of dining with a baby. I understand taking your little one into a five-star restaurant isn’t something we all want to do, but what if you want to bring baby along? Here are a few tips to get the job done with no tears.

Click through for expert tips so you can enjoy dining with your little one while keeping strangers at bay! 

  • You Can Do It! 1 of 8
    dining with a baby tips

    Click through to learn how to master dining out with little ones.

  • Choose the Right Destination 2 of 8

    Family-friendly restaurants are family-friendly for a reason. Special kids' menus, cups with covers to prevent spills, and crayons and paper are usually put on the table. A two-hour dinner is just not the place for young children. Looking for a special night out to celebrate as a family? Call ahead and ask to speak with the restaurant manager. They will be able to give you a good sense for their patrons and may be able to suggest certain times that are more family friendly. This doesn't mean you have to go to McDonald's. You have plenty of options with eating with a baby! 

    Image via Veer

  • Have a Backup Plan 3 of 8

    We get it. The sitter canceled and you've had these reservations for weeks. Life happens! Backup care services are a great option for these instances, in addition to other last-minute situations like a late-running meeting or family emergency. In addition to your regular sitter, keep a list of backup sitters that you can reach out to when in a pinch.

    Make a list! Print it via HelloBee

  • Keep Them Busy 4 of 8
    travel with baby final

    For times when backup care just isn't an option, come prepared. Have a special "restaurant bag" of small toys or stuffed animals at the ready. Not only will it keep them engaged, your child will have a little piece of home with them to bring a sense of comfort in a new environment. has a great selection of travel toys for baby! 

  • Take A Breath 5 of 8

    If your little one gets fussy, and we've all had those times, calmly excuse yourselves from the table and find a quiet place to give your child a chance to calm down. Address things calmly. If all else fails, don't put pressure on yourself or feel like a failure when your normally tame little one spills mashed potatoes in your purse--or worse. Table manners take time to develop. And food stains can (eventually) be removed.

    Image via Veer

  • Prep the Waiter 6 of 8

    If the restaurant doesn't have highchairs, that's your sign that a fussy or food-throwing baby is not very welcome. But I know plenty of people who go during the early bird hours, and tell the maître d' that if the baby fusses too much, they'll leave. I also suggest talking to your waiter. Get him to send over a basket of bread or a bunch of crackers to hold kiddo over until her food comes. And order her meal as soon as you sit down. No need to be frantic, just practical. Then tip generously.

    Image via Shutterstock

  • Eating in Shifts 7 of 8

    Sometimes a kid just won't settle and you and your dinner companion will have to take turns eating while the other walks around the lobby or neighborhood with the child. No, this is not what date nights are made of. But if the worst case scenario happens (i.e. the baby is so disruptive you have to leave), it happens. And you can get dessert to-go.

    Image via Shutterstock

  • Play Games 8 of 8

    Depending on how old your child is, you can play interactive games such as Peek-a-boo, I-Spy, or Guess the Animal. You can also create stories as a family or play Telephone. It's also good to have a sticker book or favorite coloring book in your purse. Certain activities can keep kids focused for at least one course.

    Image via Veer


Article Posted 3 years Ago

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