Eating Out with Baby

Find tips on having a pleasant restaurant experience with your baby.

Eating Out with Baby

Restaurants, unless they are fast-food joints, often require a special etiquette on the part of parents with babies. If you take your child to a restaurant (especially a fancy one) to celebrate a special occasion, you will have a more relaxed and enjoyable time if you:

Babyproofing

Never let your baby loose on a restaurant floor, even if she hasn't yet learned how to crawl. Waiters are often too busy serving customers to notice an infant on the floor. With trays of steaming food being toted around, this situation can result in a serious accident.

  • Go early. (Most restaurants seat very few customers before about 6 or 6:30 in the evening.) Your baby will want to wait for a table even less than you do. Once you've been seated, service will probably be slower if the restaurant is crowded. Your baby won't appreciate having to sit and wait longer for your food.
  • Choose an out-of-the-way table, if possible. You'll be less likely to disturb other diners or interfere with waiters.
  • Order as soon as you can after sitting down and then eat relatively quickly. Who knows how long you'll be able to stay?
  • Bring some quiet entertainment (a few favorite toys or books) for your baby, but save it until you really need it. She may be content just to look around or to play with a spoon for a while.
  • If your baby has already started on solids, be sure to bring some food for her. Some dry cereal can keep her happily occupied.
  • Be considerate of other diners. Be prepared to take your baby on a brief walk outside if she starts getting unbearably loud or can't possibly sit still any longer.
  • Bring along a baby carrier just in case she falls asleep.
  • Be flexible. If your baby remains fussy or restless, consider taking turns with your partner (unless, of course, you're dining alone-well, not quite alone). First one of you eats while the other takes the baby, and then switch halfway through the meal. Or if necessary, get a doggy bag and transform your romantic evening out into a night of terrific take-out.

An occasional night off from cooking is essential for new parents. So treat yourself to a restaurant once in a while. Even if it means getting a baby sitter, you will find the experience well worth it.

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