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Dining with Kids: How to Take Your Toddler to a Restaurant

Dining with Kids: How to Take Your Toddler to a Restaurant

Today’s post is courtesy of Alexis Barad-Cutler from Brunch With My Baby.

If you read my previous post and thought dining out with a baby was difficult, you ain’t seen nothing yet! But, have no fear. All hope is not lost. You can do this! And you will be so happy you did. Here are some great ideas to help make dining out with your toddler a whole lot easier.

toddlers eating at a restaraunt

Tips for dining out with a toddler:

  • Find out in advance if there’s a playground near the restaurant you are going to. It is nice to know there is a place nearby for your tot to let off steam — either after the ride there or after the meal. Also, go to to map out the most stroller-friendly route.
  • Pack a bottle of milk for emergency subway meltdowns, if you’re taking public transit.
  • Bring a snack cup of Cheerios or those veggie puffs mentioned in my previous post. Cheerios are endless restaurant entertainment.
  • Come to terms with the fact that lunch will likely not be as leisurely as it used to be when it was just you and a pal. That’s ok. You made it out of the house! Your tot might not enjoy sitting sweetly in a high chair. Fine. Have him sit on your lap and cover yourself with lots of napkins to catch any spills.
  • Remember that your tot eats food now. As in, the kind you eat. You can order something simple for him like a side of sweet potato fries, or a soup, or guacamole. Or the ol’ pancake standby. At this age it is fun to experiment with your child’s culinary tastes. Plus, you now have an excuse to try different things on the menu because those three different appetizers aren’t just for you (no, no, of course not).
  • Remind yourself that when all else fails: iPhone.
  • Remember that sometimes you just have to do what’s necessary for the greater good. Like, for example, letting your kid play with his sippy cup or the water cup on the table if that’s what it takes to allow you to have your sandwich. My son loves playing with the water cup that a lot of restaurants will give you if you ask: one of those plastic ones with a lid and a straw. I like to get one filled with lots of ice which he takes out of the cup and then puts back in it. It’s just water. It will dry.
  • Again, you can never go wrong with this: Leave a nice tip!

Happy dining!

Editor’s Note: Alexis Barad-Cutler is a children’s book writer, publishing veteran, food-lover and blogger at Brunch With My Baby – a blog featuring kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore in New York City. Her book Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game, is available in stores now.She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, her furry havanese dog and her very “spirited” toddler.



  1. Brenda July 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    My mom is a waitress and has turned around many dining experiences with toddlers involved. She loves to give the kid a “new toy” to play with to keep them entertained. Like a Styrofoam container and a handful of coffee stirrers to insert (and repeatedly take out of the container)…
    It’s all about keeping the kid(s) entertained so you can attempt to have an adult conversation.
    I like picnics in the park. Kids aren’t so restrained to stay in their seats and can play after eating while the adult conversation continues on the playground.

  2. Shreyster February 18, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Lol…I love this point- “Remind yourself that when all else fails: iPhone.”!

    Totally relate to it n so true! :))

  3. Sunny November 1, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I like to walk them around the restaurant and then bring them to sit closer to when the meal arrives. Then after the meal one of us can take them to the bathroom and take another tour (most restaurants have interesting wall hangings, corridors, or people who just want to take a moment and say ‘hi’). This allows them to burn some energy, allows everyone to enjoy talking during the meal, and teaches them we all sit and eat together without burdening them with an extended amount of sitting.

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