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Eating out - What do you do?

Hi everyone, we have always gone out to eat with LO to child friendly places and nicer restaurants and cafes. He is now 19 months and frankly this weekend eating out was an embarrassment! We have a few methods to get through it (toys, snacks, singing !) but this weekend nothing seemed to work. I don't think it's acceptable to have a toddler running about, screaming etc while other people try to eat (would be interested to hear opinions on that) but at the same time it's important for us to eat out sometimes for our own sanity and as a family. What do you all do????


  • My toddles wants to walk around and see everything, so I walk around with her then when our food has arrived I strap her in the booster seat and we all eat. We don't make a meal of going out (har har) so once we've finished eating we go. No issues as yet, uness she's tired and that is our fault for not putting her nap needs first. I wouldn't take her out for an evening meal past 6pm (ie home for 7pm) as 8pm is her late bedtime. Keeping her out past bedtime is irresponsible.
  • We only go out for lunch if we can eat around 12pm and be out by 1pm at the latest. We rarely venture far from home simply so that we can get G back home for his afternoon nap. At the restaurant hubby will take G for a walk around before the meal and show him things. When the food arrives we sit down and eat as quickly as possible :lol: without making a big song and dance about it. We also praise G a lot if he is good.

    G has been a very good child every time we have taken him out (which has been from a young age) but to be honest as he approaches his second birthday, things are starting to become more challenging and I think the benefits of going out can be outweighed by the drama and effort involved. However, I agree that going is important so that children understand about table manners, socialisation etc.

    Avoid nap times, eat early and good luck!

  • We don't often eat out but when we do it depends on the occasion as to what time we go. If its day time lunch then will try and pick a child friendly place with a play area we can sit close to and supervise so I can let him run around. When meal comes usually thats enough to keep him quiet. If its a later evening meal but home for bedtime would bring the usual toys to try and. Occupy. If its a special occasion and I know we will he out later again I will let him nap a little longer so tiredness doesn't take over. As a rule hes generally back by bedtime but there are ocassions ie family things were all my babysitters are with me so i don't see the prob on keeping him out later. I don't believe its irresponsible. Routine is good but so is adaptability x
  • Interesting replies, we only go out for lunch and haven't tried dinner yet because of bedtime routine and all that. However, I agree that it's good to be flexible and I don't think it's irresponsible to keep them out past bedtime once in a while either, weren't those sort of evenings our best memories from being children?! We only take him out once he's had a nap but he's still trying to crawl onto the table, get out of high chair, throw food (totally not ok in my book). Any more thoughts girls?
  • If you choose to keep them out way past bedtime then you can't complain about behaviour!
  • I guess until they reach the age when they won't want to leave the restaurant, it is difficult to threaten them with "we will leave if you don't start behaving". Not sure what the answer is other than perhaps give going out a miss just for a while until lo's behaviour starts to improve generally. Is your lo the same at home? If so maybe you need to wait until this phase is over or work on behaviour at home first?

    Also, how old is your lo? Mine is only coming up for 2 and reasoning with him wouldn't get us very far. If your lo is older perhaps the threat of leaving the restaurant would work? (And then follow your threat through of course).

  • I tend to think LO doesn't have a behavioural problem image rather is displaying developmental age appropriate difficulties fitting in with more formal adult situations, we're not in mcdonalds. Also I said we go for lunch not dinner so please do back off with the back-handed comments. I see many families with the same things going on and thought some of the mums here might have some useful tips to pass on.
  • Hiya, I would ignore the comments of one said person, sorry but your comments have slightly irritated me!! Personally if I were you I would continue to take them out, so they learn. My little boy is coming up to 2 and I know if i put him in his high chair straight away then when its time to eat he will be fed up and want out! So the other suggestions are good about walking round with them until food comes. Gone are the days of relaxing meals with kids, ha ha!! They learn by example and by taking part in different experiences so stick with it! You will get some miserys when you are out who are not child friendly but just ignore them! My little boy is very friendly and says hiya to everyone but unfortunatley not everyone says hiya back!! xx
  • Hiya, I would ignore the comments of one said person, sorry but your comments have slightly irritated me!! Personally if I were you I would continue to take them out, so they learn.

    I agree, on both counts!

    We have always taken our son to restaurants, for lunch and dinner. And why not? If he gets grizzly, either myself or my husband will walk him around for a bit.

    Our son has recently found mega bloks, so I ensure I have some of those, as well as a few toy cars for him to play with.
  • Hello,

    My husband is a chef and it really annoys him when his customers bring rude and unruly children into the restaurant. We have always eaten out, we both love our food, and so decided that things weren't going to change once we had kids! consequently our LO is quite used to going out and his palate has tasted many wonderful tastes he would not have normally experienced. However we have on occasions had bad behaviour from him, I think this is common of most kids when they get to 2 / 3!

    We tend to eat out at lunchtime but have also eaten out in the evening with him, either early evening 5 / 6ish, or very occasionally a bit later. I think on one hand it doesn't hurt to keep them up once in a while - it's very common in europe / asia - but it's also not fair on the couples who have left their kids at home and want to enjoy a bit of peace.

    We always make sure we have plenty of toys, books, and crayons for him to entertain him and we make a big fuss when he behaves well. We also always take his buggy so if he does misbehave he has to sit in 'time out' in the buggy, just because we're in a restaurant doesn't mean he's exempt from good behvaiour!

    finally we always try and give him a 'run' before we go, so he's tired but not exhausted. It just means that he's not full of beans and bouncing around the place. or We try and eat around his naps so we can have a hour in peace and he wakes up happy!

    Sorry, that turned into a bit of an essay but it's something that both my hubby and I have experience in!
  • I am sure nobody thinks rude and unruly children are acceptable anywhere really. I'm not talking about bad behaviour, rather normal toddler high spirits. I think next time we will take a stapler and tack him to his highchair, that way he won't bother anyone around him, although of course we won't do this if it's evening because only dreadful neglectful parents take their children out in the evening :roll: Oh to live in Europe!
  • Hi we go out for lunch every week with my 2 children (6 and 18 months) they both understand what is and isnt not acceptable behaviour. i wont have them sitting on the floor under tables ect (just a personal hate of mine and i know they arent harming anyone but its annoys me)they have to use their manners at home and obv this is expected when we are out too. (i will say i am a very stric parent btw,although hubby is a lot more liad back then i am gernally in life,lol) anyway i also work in a cafe and i want to say plese do not be embarrassed if your little ones have a wobberly or want to change theor minds on what they want it really is not a problem! we also understand when your LO decides half way through your food/drink that they really need a wee!!-we will heat up your drink (well actually we make you a fresh one coz we are nice like that :P

    i love to hear my children playing together and luaghing when we are at the table-yeah there is an acceptable noise limit but most people just smile and say how nice is it to see happy children and i agree!!

    i find giving my 2 some crayons and a piece of paper heklps entertain them and also a tissue to hide things under?!

    agaiun dont be emarressed-its the joys of having kids image

  • oh just re-read my OP and it looks like I'm saying my LO ran about screaming etc which he totally did not, I was saying I think that's behaviour too far. No my LO just grabbed at everything on the table, banged his beaker loudly, shouted a little bit and tried to get out of his highchair. Little monkey is an angel really!
  • bless him. hun thats normal behaviour and im sure no one batted an eye lid. dont worry about it. in a normal week we have at least 2 chuldren climb over the back of the sofa in the cafe!

    crayons and paper would be on the list of destractions i would write image

    ps-i dont think any child likes sitting in highchairs either,lol

  • My lo is nearly 18 months and we will go out for lunch quite frequently when my husband has a day off. I have let her go for a little toddle before we eat, holding my hand, so that she can see whats going on, she's really nosy! I have had the odd bit of toddler behaviour, usually if she finishes eating before me? She wants to go and investigate as soon as she has finished! As soon as the food arrives she is strapped in until it is time to leave or i would be up and down from the table constantly and have nothing to eat!

    I don't think there's an easy answer as with my lo something will work for her one day and not the next. She likes to be able to see everything so where you put your lo at the table could help keep him entertained? I have to say I manage to entertain lo by giving her a taste of what i'm eating usually, she likes to have a bit of what mummy has! We've also had crayons etc but I have never found that to work?

    I just brazen it out tbh, if she starts to have a hissy fit I will carry on until i've finished what i'm eating etc and then we will go?

    I have to say I have never taken her out for an evening meal as she is far too cranky when she's tired lol!
  • Your LO must be an angel if you think that's bad behaviour. image

    Anyway we take ours (2.5 yrs and 10months) out for lunch on a regular basis. Our favourite is Harvester because they are so accomodating and the salad cart is a good distraction until the main food arrives. However we do go to a variety of restaurants. Abby loves it and gets really excited about going to a "est-a-rant". Charlie spent the first 3.5 months of his life in Great Ormond Street so Abby got used to eating out in London on a regular basis. Sometimes she behaved perfectly and other times it was more of a struggle. They're not machines, you can't make them perfect every time. I bring crayons and paper but sometimes she's not interested. If that's the case we take it in turns to walk her around outside until the food arrives. Now she's a bit older we do use "If you can't behave like a good girl then we won't go to restaurants again" because she does love it - maybe it's because she gets to have chips! image

    H xx
  • I second the toys, crayons, ect.

    But I really hope that the odd happy toddler sippy cup bang on the table, and the odd shriek would be accepted at a lunch service.

    I think an evening service is a little different, it does tend to be more adult oriented, but there has to be a time and place for children to learn and practice social skills. So I would hope that most adults would be patient and understanding.

    But as someone has said there is a difference between age appropriate behavior and bad behavior.

    I try to take mine out (aged 7,5,3,15 months) a couple times a month. Having them well rested and well exercised seem to be the best prep work I can do.
  • How about having lunch somewhere that's full of kids misbehaving so you don't feel so self-conscious and you can concentrate on 'training' your LO.

    I think the cafes in those soft play places are perfect for this. They're full of totally over excited kids that make your's look perfect and everyone is struggling with their kids so don't mind about the disruption.

    You can reward him with a nice play when he's been good and then venture out to nicer places when he's got the hang of it.

    Good luck!

    Mrs B xxx
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