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Children deserve to experience going out to eat, if that is what you want for them. You have every right to take them into a restaurant and never feel embarrassed in doing so, as long as its a place that welcome's welcomes children.
However, going out to lunch or dinner may fill some parents with dread: how would their little ones behave in public? But, be bold, follow the few tips below and they may surprise you!
- Take a few small toys to entertain while you wait. Don't necessarily buy new, perhaps find a few buried in a draw that you haven't seen for a while.
- Go to a restaurant that has a child menu. Then you won't feel uncomfortable because if there's a child's menu, they welcome children and you have every right to be there!
- Make sure the venue has all the facilities you need: baby change, etc.
- Ask for what you need, don't hesitate, as the staff will be happy to help if it means a more smooth meal! Lots of napkins, teaspoons to eat with, a straw to drink with etc.
- Order the children's meal to come first. They can start eating straight away even if your meal is not ready. In fact, order all your meals as quickly as you can so the wait for you all is not too long.
- For little ones that may be super hungry, bring a couple of snacks or finger foods to keep them going. If you have none, ask the a little bread or raw vegetables while you wait.
- Eat at the approximate time you'd normally eat so your routine is not too mixed up.
- If you have a newborn, don't be shy about feeding at the table if you can do it discretely, or asking for bottles to be warmed.
- If you book a table make sure you reserve a high chair if you need it a tell the restaurant you'll have little ones. They may reserve a larger area for you.
- Have a practice at home: set up a restaurant and pretend one day at home!
- Have a trial run. Go to a coffee shop and just have coffee and a muffin one morning. See how that goes.
- Explain what you expect from your children if they are a bit older, and tell them what it will be like so they are more prepared.
- Choose something from the menu that they will eat rather than be adventurous. You want them to eat, after all!
- Start them young. Don't put off going out if you want to because you think your baby is too little.
Be bold! Bon appetite!