Become mentally prepared
It’s important for you to fully understand what you are getting into. Toddlers, especially ones who have entered their “terrible two’s” can be a nightmare to sit with at a restaurant. So it’s important for you to anticipate what may happen or go wrong, i.e., temper tantrums, throwing food, diaper explosions, etc. Be ready for anything that may go wrong, being prepared is ultimately half the battle.
Be strategic in picking a location
It’s advised that when taking a toddler to a restaurant you look for one with a lot of space to walk around. This is great for helping your baby get acquainted with the area, take him/her for a stroll around before dinner or while you wait for your table to become available. Look for things to distract your baby, things such as: large painting, fish tanks, decorative trees and plants, etc. You’ll definitely want to steer clear of any high end fancy restaurants with crystal and fine china.
It’s all about timing
You know your toddler isn’t happy when he/she is hungry. So be sure to work around your child’s schedule. If it’s not possible to eat around the baby’s mealtime, than consider feeding him/her at home and then bringing a snack for them at dinner. This will prevent any fussy outbreaks because of hunger. If your meal is going to run into your toddlers nap or bed time consider bringing the stroller in so he/she has somewhere to snooze right next to the table. Remember a sleepy baby is also a cranky baby.
It’s a good idea to bring restaurant friendly toys with your toddler to dinner. Many times boredom can trigger toddler temper tantrums, so plan accordingly to keep your child engaged throughout dinner. Some good toys to bring are bright colored books; maybe coloring books with crayons. But refrain from giving him/her all the toys at once. Consume your ammo and distribute them throughout the meal. Sometimes you don’t even need to bring a load of toys, simple table setups such as sugar and jelly packets can keep a child entertained for a while. I can remember my son being amazed with jelly packets when he was a toddler. He would sit the entire time looking at it and trying to get it open.
Simply go with it
Having a successful dinner out on the town with a toddler is seriously an art. The key to achieving it is by constantly engaging your baby. If your baby keeps busy, it will allow you the time to sit and converse over the food and other topics of your interest. If it doesn’t work out, don’t get too discouraged. It can take some practice before you learn the art and skill of eating out with a toddler. But don’t worry you’ll eventually learn what it take to keep your very own child entertained at dinner. And most importantly, don’t forget to tip your waiter/waitress good.