Eating out with your kids does not need to be difficult. With a little preparation it can be exciting adventure. Below you will find our Top Tips to Make Eating Out a Thrilling and Happy Adventure for Everyone.
1. Make eating a regular occurrence. I was one of those parents that took my baby to the restaurant or cafe. Babywearing kept them close and made sure I didn’t block walk ways with my pram. I also breastfed in restaurants. We made sure to choose the times we ate out so it wouldn’t be at a typical sleepy time. This has prevented any crying or distress when we are out. Early and repeated exposure to eating out was great way for my children to the social conventions of dining away from home. You will agree that children learn a great deal through modelling. They are little mimics. We used this to our advantage and have always allowed them to hold the menu and pick what they want to eat (from a small choice that we offer). I also always keep a number of activities in my bag to keep them occupied if service is slow or they are over stimulated from a very busy restaurant. The power of crayons and a small pad can not be underestimated!
2. Provide lots of opportunities to taste new things. Most kids are going to screw their face up when you introduce new food. Heck, many adults will do the same. Don’t despair, continue to offer the new food at different intervals. At some point they are likely to try it and may even enjoy it. We have persisted with Japanese and Chinese cuisine and are reaping the benefits. Whilst Miss N will still only eat basic rice and cucumber sushi rolls at the Japanese restaurant (a step up from total refusal), Master R is expanding his palate each time we feast at a sushi restaurant and even has small bento boxes for lunch twice a week at school. You may also need to change your description of food. Our kids decided that they didn’t eat ravioli or tortellini. T and I started calling them ‘mini lasagna’ and guess what? They eat both now. Be mindful that if you don’t eat something, or if you screw your nose up at something they are unlikely to eat it.
3. Avoid Kid’s Menus. If we are honest, most kids menus at cafes and restaurants are similar to those that you see at fast food menus. It is highly likely you will see nuggets and chips; fish and chips; Bolognese and other similar menu choices. Although these options often appear cheaper and may be something your child will eat without any issue, are they the best option? Dining out for us is about trying new food, eating as a family and going on an culinary adventure together. We have found that a choice from the mains menu is often more appetising for the kids and much more healthy. Most restaurants are happy to provide a second plate so we can divide the meal into two portions for the kids. I don’t find this any more expensive than two kids menus.
4. Never go anywhere without baby wipes. Baby wipes should be on hand whenever you go out to eat with your kids. They wipe up spills, clean messy hands and mouths and if they drop anything on their clothes, the evidence can quickly be spirited away with a few dabs. Always…always pack them in your bag.
5. A proactive approach is best. Before you venture out to eat, talk to your children about what to expect and how they should behave. Reinforce good behaviour and include your children in your discussions. Eating out together is a family affair. Leave the electronics at home and talk! Discuss things together. Play word games. Make it fun and you’ll reap the rewards.
What tips would you add? Leave a comment and let us know so we can add it to our tips list.