August 16, 2018

7 Tips on Eating Out with A Toddler

There are a ton of great ways to be a mom! So I hope this blog is becoming an inspiring place for you to adapt only what you feel is best for you and your child, because well, mama knows best.  : )

If you're reading this, then you and I both know that feeling of a flushed-faced full on panic attack because our kid(s) won’t sit in there seat. Instead, they have decided that a personal tour of the restaurant, the parking lot, bathrooms, and (yes) even the kitchen is why we’re here.

Weather you have a toddler now, or you will have one soon, please know that I'm not a parenting expert by any means! I’ve just had personal success in teaching Abby “how we behave,” in a restaurant. 


All the ideas I have outlined below are based off my education and own experience in teaching dance (ages 4 – 18 years old) regarding how I setup and encourage expectations. These tricks of the trade in teaching have helped ME when it comes to teaching Abby (2 years) a desired behavior. So, I'm happy to share!  

(Please keep in mind before reading that these ideas are based off my own experience and that every mother's experience and child is different.)

// 1  //

At 10 months, Abby started to learn how to “place” a sippy cup on the table instead of throwing it across the floor (like most do). To teach this, I gave a very short verbal prompt, “we place our sippy cup” while at the same time demonstrating what this meant, by physically placing the sippy cup down on the table. When she completed the task, I gave her some sort of praise by saying “that’s how we do it!” or a hug, and most of the time, it’s both, because I love that little one. 

For us, this has worked beautifully! Not every time, though slowly and surely she gets what I’m teaching her.  
//  2  //
Consistent Homework

I know it’s not fun at first, and even challenging which is why I really liked “practicing at home” to start. This allowed us to be consistent with our expectations by teaching Abby in an environment where I, (the teacher) felt comfortable. 

You and I both know it won’t go smoothly every time and it certainly didn’t for us. However, once you start transferring those expectations in a fun new place, homework prevails.  

Extra Tip: We would stick to the same restaurant for about 6 weeks, then when Abby seemed to understand what “eating at the table meant” we started dinning at other places. 

//  3  //  

We typically pick a casual place and always check the menu ahead of time to make sure there’s something Abby can eat. However if you’re unsure the place might not be casual or kid friendly enough, call and ask the hostess if they have high chairs. That will give you a vibe right away. 

//  4  //
Positive/Negative space:

Also, if possible use to see how the restaurant is laid out, both inside and out. With my dance background I always look for negative space in a restaurant (meaning nothing is there) so she can move around if need be. Our favorite local dining spot has an outdoor patio with tons of space between other dinners, along with a corn hole game, side walk chalk and bubbles in an open area off to the side. That is rare! However, it is out there! Some places really do cater to family and kids besides Red Robin, we have just found it takes a bit of research.

//  5  //
Entertainment Ideas:

Most family friendly dining options offer a paper activity menu and crayons however, I do pack my own. Whenever possible we use the restaurants because it’s new! And fun! Some other things that my two year really loves is sticker books and these paint free water-wow books which I keep in our diaper bag. 

Extra Tip: With crayons I have found Abby really loves it when I draw a shape because she wants to try and draw them too. Sometimes we create a picture together. Even though she’s fairly good at coloring by herself, I like to use this trick in redirecting her from losing it.

//  6  //
Let them get hungry, they will sit & eat!

Now this is not meant to sound harsh! I don’t let Abby starve by any means! However, if we’re headed out to eat that night I won’t make a snack in the afternoon. If she asks for it, I will. Something light like a banana or string cheese. Although, I don’t go out of my way to feed her at 4pm when were about to eat at 5pm. 

//  7  //  

This may be one we all know and prefer; however, I like it specifically because it allows Abby to feel like she’s in two places at once by switching sides of the table between Mom & Dad if needed. 

As odd as it sounds, getting another view is complete entertainment for my 2-year-old. New people and a new scène. Plus, she’s less likely to get up and walk around because a booth is way more fun than a chair and that one, I must I agree with her on. 

I hope these ideas help you and your family enjoy eating out just a little more and as always, let me know if you have any questions!

Warmly, Steph

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