It’s lovely to spend quality time with your family over a delicious meal. However, babies and toddlers can be a little unpredictable and don’t always get the memo that it’s time to sit down and eat. Here are some tips that might help the next time you go out to a restaurant or cafe.

Toddler Tips

Have a busy bag ready to go include a colouring book, a little notebook, pencils or pens, a storybook, stickers and some little characters.

Take their own water bottle and children sized cutlery.

Ask for their food to be sent out as soon as it’s ready even if this is before the rest of the order. Having some snacks on hand straight away can be a good way to keep little ones sitting at the table.

If they can’t sit still and their food isn’t out take them for a little walk around the restaurant.

Take your usual changing bag with nappy or potty training essentials.

Have their favourite tv show downloaded onto your tablet or phone for emergency purposes.

If you’re pre-booking the table, check if the restaurant has high chairs and baby changing facilities. If there are no high chairs available there are great travel booster seats that attach to normal seats. We use one permanently at home, but they are a little bulky to carry around on the off chance, so phone ahead and see if it’s needed.

If you have a child who is a bit of a fussy eater, it’s also worth checking the children’s menu in advance to make sure they have something that you think your child will eat. If you have a certain meal in mind for your child you could sow the seeds beforehand and mention what’s on offer before you go.

Baby Tips

Have a white noise app on your phone to help you drown out restaurant noise if they need to go to sleep.

Time your meal to coincide with nap time.

Feed them and change their nappy before you sit down at your table.

Sit somewhere where you can easily move and take them outside if needed.

Have toys to keep their attention appropriate for their age, such as a rattle, a buckle toy or a soft book with a mirror.

Have a fully stocked changing bag and a pack of baby wipes to hand. Both babies and toddlers can be messy eaters and a baby wipe can make light work of even the worst spillages.

For both babies or toddlers, it can be best to go with the flow and their mood. Sometimes despite all our best efforts and well-laid plans they just might not want to play ball. An overtired or hungry baby or toddler or a dirty nappy can dramatically change the mood quickly and make eating out more challenging. Having strategies in place to tackle this if it happens can help you feel more organised and prepared.

What tips have worked for you? Is there anything else that you have tried that has worked wonders for your special family meal out?