Dining out with a toddler can sometimes be hard. You never know what kind of mood they’ll be in and what the outcome will be. Getting your child used to a restaurant experience from an early age is key. Also as long as you come prepared with some snacks and accessories, you’ll have a smoother experience and hopefully a fun one too.
Today I’m teaming up with buybuy Baby to share some tips as well as a few of my favorite products that I never leave home without. Let’s first start with my tips:
1. PICK THE RIGHT RESTAURANT
When choosing a restaurant, family friendly is always a good option. Especially in Chicago, there are lots of places that offer kids menus with crayons and high chairs. This way, if your child does act up, the establishment is already used to this behavior and you won’t feel as awkward. Some of our favorite family friendly go-to places in Chicago include: Luxbar, Wildfire, Le Pain Quotidien, Summer House Santa Monica, Francesca’s on Chestnut, Cheesecake Factory and Aster Hall (where these photos were taken).
2. GO EARLY
An overtired toddler is a recipe for distaster. Make your lunch or dinner reservation around their schedule and regular eating time. For dinner, we always like to make a 5PM reservation because that’s the time our daughter usually likes to eat. It’s also always easier to get in and usually more empty, which is a win for everyone.
3. PROVIDE ENTERTAINMENT
I’ll get into more further down, but we always like to bring some of Elle’s favorite travel toys with us while we are out. Some restaurants provide crayons, but a lot don’t. Some of our favorite things to bring include coloring books, stickers, Water Wow pads , board books, finger puppets, and of course snacks because sometimes the food takes awhile and not all restaurants offer bread service.
4. BRING YOUR OWN SUPPLIES
Besides all the toys above, I like to bring my own sippy cup as well a travel bib. Both fit easily in our diaper bag and make mealtime run more smoothly. Also let’s not forget the wipes for easy clean up because things can get messy.
5. ORDER RIGHT AWAY
A kid can only sit in a high chair for so long, so we always like to order right away. I always order my daughter’s meal as soon as our waiter greets us. Also if they don’t offer a kids menu, the waiter usually has good suggestions for kid friendly options. Grilled cheese, buttered noodles, or choosing some of the sides is always a good choice too. Our daughter loves dipping everything in ketchup theses days so french fries usually make everything better.
6. TAKE A WALK
If you notice your toddler is getting cranky or restless, take them for a walk. A quick break and change of scenery can do wonders. They love watching the food be prepared or even talking with the host or hostess. It’s an easy distraction and a great way for everyone to stretch their legs.
Now that you’ve got the right tips, here are a few of our favorites that we ALWAYS bring along while eating out:
We honestly love any toy Melissa and Doug makes, but these are especially great to bring on- the-go. They’re small to pack and what kid doesn’t love to color?! You just add a little bit of water to the pen and it’s basically no-mess painting. The pages are reusable and the entrainment never gets old.
If you follow me on Instagram Stories, then you will notice that this is the only travel bib we use. It’s from the brand b. box (which is one of our favorites) and comes in a few different adorable designs. What I especially love about this travel bib is that it’s easy to clean and zips-up, making it portable and perfect for on the go. It also comes with a matching spoon.
These are the best! Not only do they come in a bunch of different cute styles, but they’re extremely functional too. They keep snacks fresh and are perfect for on-the-go. We have the ladybug and unicorn ones too.
Board books are always a good idea. They’re not only educational, but durable and an easy way to entertain your toddler while out to eat. Our daughter has been on a Dr. Seuss obsession lately so we especially love this alphabet book. Buybuy baby has a huge selection of board book options so it’s always fun to get a few and then rotate them for different outings.
This is another mess free activity that is portable and great for restaurants, airplanes, and long car rides. They have a bunch of different themes, and some even come with stickers too. It also has a built in storage spot for the marker when it’s not in use.
This cup is perfect for travel. We already use the Munchkin Miracle 360 cups at home, and especially love this stainless steel travel one. It keeps water cold and comes with a great travel lid so nothing spills. I’m so sick of other sippy cups spilling all over in our daughter’s back pack, but this one is amazing.
SHOP THE POST
Hope today’s post was helpful and remember that when all else fails, just order another glass of wine 😉 . Most adults are understanding if your child acts up because they have all been there themselves. Good luck and you’ve got this!
*This post is in partnership with buybuy BABY , a company that both Elle and I love. As always, all opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting brands that make GCG possible!