Mrs ATWWAH’s A-Z of Toddler Travel: E is for Eating Out

The inspiration for came about after taking our son’s highchair to France with us.  Really.  It seems that when you become a parent logic can escape you.  Not only could we probably have managed without it, some French restaurants had highchairs (although not all) but we could have just taken one of those portable, attach to the table jobbies instead of the admittedly, aesthetically pleasing and portable Baby Bjorn highchair.

Eating out with babies and toddlers can be stressful and enough to make you wonder why you bothered booking in the first place but hopefully the following tips will help to make the experience that bit more pleasurable.  And, who knows, you may even get through all three courses.

Newborns are generally easier to take to restaurants as if they have been fed and changed they do tend to just sleep or gurgle which is why you often see parents of newborns smugly ordering a second glass (bottle) of wine while parents of toddlers look on whilst handcuffing their offspring to the table and cleaning the mess, thinking ‘you just wait’

messy baby in highchair

‘What do you mean, you don’t think Gordon Ramsay would appreciate this mess?’

A bit of forward planning normally helps when dining out with a toddler.

–          Always pack snacks you know they will eat: rice cakes, fruit, biscuits.  These come in useful for if they are being picky but also if the service is a bit slow

–          Have a couple of favourite books or colouring pads handy with crayons.  Most restaurants now offer something to keep toddlers amused but it’s always good to have your own

–          Keep a set of toddler cutlery in their bag as it’s surprising how many restaurants don’t offer this, especially abroad

–          Pop a couple of cartons of juice in the bag as these generally mean less mess than drinking from an open cup or take a bottle of water to dilute juice down

–          Don’t stress too much about going for the healthy options.  If you give your toddler a choice from the menu go with their answer.  You can always pop some of your own veg on their plate as they are eating.

–          Talk to your toddler about what they can see and the food you’ve ordered.  I always try to get a table near the kitchen so Master ATWWAH can see the chefs or at least watch what is going on

–          Always take a spare pair of clothes and for as long as your toddler will wear them put a bib on to avoid lots of changes

–          Don’t take them out for meals when you know they are likely to be tired.  It’s tempting to eat later than usual on holiday but it’s not worth it when they are nodding off at the table or worse, having a meltdown.

I’ve also found on holiday as you tend to eat out more it’s good to mix things up a bit so toddlers aren’t expected to sit down for every meal.

Breakfast buffets can be fascinating for a toddler although a bit tiresome for parents who just want to sit and eat and not be up every 2 minutes to get something else with their eager offspring.

Try a picnic at lunchtime so you are not confined to a restaurant and it doesn’t matter so much if mess is made.  Or, depending on where you are, go for street food options where you can sit on a bench watching the world go by and eat finger food.

But, I think the most important tip of all is to make sure that every once in a while you sort out a babysitter and book your favourite restaurant with your partner or friends and have a toddler free meal.   It’s amazing how much nicer food tastes when you have time to savour it.


This post originally featured on as part of Mrs ATWWAH’s A-Z of Toddler Travel


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