Monday, April 20, 2015

Tips For Eating At Restaurants With Young Kids

Like many, my hubby and I enjoy eating at restaurants every now and then.  We also like to actually ENJOY our meals, and cranky kids or screaming babies take away the enjoyment.  Many parents get stressed out when thinking of taking their family to a restaurant - but I assure you, it IS possible to have a great family meal out!  We have been going to restaurants since the kids were young.  Here are my tips to help things go smoothly! (If you are in Ottawa, check out my list of restaurants where kids eat free!)

Tips For Taking Kids To Restaurants:

  • Try and plan the restaurant visit to avoid meal time and nap/bed time
    • hungry and tired kids make cranky kids.  For dinner we would often arrive at the restaurant around 4pm; by the time the food arrived the kids would be hungry, but not STARVING as it was slightly earlier than their normal dinner time. Makes it easy while you are waiting for your food
  • Choose the right restaurant
    • if there are no high chairs or kids menus, chances are the restaurant prefers not to have children dine (and most likely the other patrons feel the same) You could look up the menu online, or call and ask if they are family friendly
  • Bring something to entertain them
    • a few books, crayons and paper or a couple of cars
  • Scout the bathrooms (if your young ones are potty trained)
    • if your little ones aren't in diapers anymore, make sure you know where the bathrooms are.  Trying to locate when the 3 yr old says they have to pee RIGHT NOW will not be fun
  • Bring their drinking cup
    • having their sippy cup with water or milk will ensure you don't have to wait for the server to bring it. It is also something they are comfortable drinking out of and may help you avoid an unnecessary mess
  • Arm yourself with snacks
    • a small container of goldfish crackers, cheerios and/or puffed rice cereal will also help to keep the kids satisfied while waiting for the meal to cool off
  • Pre-order dessert (if you choose to have it)
    • we would ask the server to bring out the kids dessert as soon as their meal was finished. That way they could enjoy it while we finished our meal
  • Skip coffee/dessert for adults
    • trying to linger over a meal with coffee and dessert can extend the visit a little too long if you have little ones.  They can only sit still for so long
  • Take a walk
    • if your kids have sat too long, or are upset over something - take a walk outside with them or go visit the car for a few minutes.  It's never fun to listen to kids cry or have a tantrum, and removing them from the situation will help make sure everyone can enjoy their meal
  • If it fails, try again
    • if your kids aren't able to sit still and are "causing a scene" don't worry, it won't always be like this.  Try again another day.

Mr.K enjoying french fries and iced tea after nursery school graduation at
The Cheshire Cat Pub


  1. I always let the kids bring one toy (small) to play with at the restaurant (a treat since there are no toys allowed at the table at home!) and we also play games like tic tac toe (bring paper and pen or crayons for drawing or playing games) or guess which animal I am (kind of like 20 questions)

    1. tic tac toe was a favourite for Mr. K while we were at Disney!

  2. Great ideas here! I always have crayons and paper wherever we go. Pre-ordering dessert is smart!

  3. Great tips! Anything to help reduce the chance of them getting restless is appreciated.


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