The Eating-Out-with-Baby Survival Guide

eating-out-with-baby-survival-guide
Image via EverydayFamily

There comes a time in every new parent's life when they throw caution to the wind and go for it — they head out to a restaurant to eat out with a baby. With a little preparation, everyone can have an enjoyable experience!

childs booster seat
Image via Amazon

Pack your own high chair

We learned the hard way that some restaurants don't have highchairs — or don't have enough highchairs. If this happens to you, don't throw in the towel — get a booster that can attach to any chair. I love the Mamas & Papas Baby Bud Booster because it comes with soft, easy-to-clean padding and a removable tray. It's nice enough to use in place of a high chair at home or when you're out traveling as well.

lil placemat
Image via Mastrad

Make it easy for after-meal cleanup

You don't eat directly off of the table, so why should your baby? Try the Mastrad Lil' Placemat that rolls up compactly so it won't take up much space. It even has a little well to catch falling crumbs so you don't need to apologize so much to the server for the mess when you leave.

fuel cell
Image via Shop Ju-Ju-Be

B.Y.O.M. — Bring Your Own Meal

Your restaurant of choice may not have baby-friendly munchies. Don't worry; it's perfectly fine to bring your own baby food out with you. When I pack food for my little, I love using the Fuel Cell from Ju-Ju-Be. It's insulated with Thinsulate, machine washable, and the perfect size for what I need without being too big. It even has a handle.

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bite sizers
Image via Mixed Pears LLC

A cut about the rest

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This one is in the category of “things you didn't know you couldn't live without.” BiteSizers Portable Food Scissors can be used with one hand to cut up any portions of your meal you want to share. There is even a built-in circle to guide you through cutting just the right sizes to avoid choking.

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Image via Flickr/ admiretime

Mealtime entertainment

Be prepared to combat boredom. Make sure you have something your child likes to do with you, whether it's a favorite picture book he can flip through, a rattle to chew on, or crayons to color with (if he's old enough to not see them as food).

child bib
Image via SILIKIDS, INC.

Keep those clothes clean(er)

A good bib is a must-have when eating out. I love the Silibib from Silikids because it rolls up easily, it's easy to wipe clean (for the illusion of a neat eater), and it's got a little pocket to catch the crumbs.

baby at restaurant
Image via Flickr/ mliu92

Practice makes perfect

When first venturing out, try somewhere casual. Is there a restaurant you used to frequent before you had your baby? Go back to where you feel most comfortable to test the waters. Once you've got a feel for how your baby does at the table, you can try somewhere a little more formal.

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Image via Flickr/ Jen SFO-BCN

When worse comes to worst … laugh it off

The most important thing you can bring with you is not a baby gadget of any kind: it's your sense of humor. Instead of getting stressed out, view any mishaps as part of the adventure of parenthood. Go into the experience with an idea of how much is too much. Make plans in advance of who will take the baby out for a walk if he gets a little fussy and of when you'll throw in the towel and leave.

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server
Image via Flickr/ Alan Light

Don't forget the extra cash!

Remember that babies in restaurants don't just mean extra work for you — they are extra work for the staff, who may need to clean up more crumbs from off the floor than usual or make extra trips to the kitchen to get your specially requested cucumbers or peas for the baby. Leave a bit of an extra tip to show your appreciation.

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Image via Flickr/ maveric2003

No matter what goes on, remember that dining out as a family is an experience all of you will come to enjoy — even if it takes a few tries to get there.

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Do you enjoy dining out with your little one?

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The Eating-Out-with-Baby Survival Guide

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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1 comment

  1. Profile photo of CM CM says:

    Your own booster chair? Seriously? Like there isn’t enough bulky stuff to bring when going anywhere with a baby? If a restaurant doesn’t have a high chair for my 1 year old then I won’t eat there. If it’s a quick casual place, (which it usually is) I’ll try to get by with a stroller if there’s no high chair. I usually bring the essentials in a diaper bag, a little toy or gadget, a jar of baby food just in case, her bottle of milk and water, and her favorite snack (Gerber Lil Crunchies).

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