Going to restaurants with crawlers

(104 Posts)
TheCrumpetQueen Sun 29-Sep-13 14:58:04

Going out with ds before he was crawling was a breeze but now he doesn't want to sit still in the high chair for long. Are we going to have to just give up on eating out for a bit?

happydaze77 Sun 29-Sep-13 15:01:04

Having the same thoughts. Places that have a little playground or soft play area are worth a try - although they're sometimes more suited to older toddlers. Watching for any other suggestions. . .

TheCrumpetQueen Sun 29-Sep-13 15:02:51

Yes, ds is 9 months so still falling often. Thing is, I want him to be used to restaurants from young so he is (hopefully) well behaved when older

mumofboyo Sun 29-Sep-13 17:30:30

Keep going to cafes and places like that, maybe with play areas available for the young kids, so that he's used to eating out. Bring a book/tablet/toy to keep him entertained. Let him play with the cutlery or menus or napkins. Blow some bubbles. Get him a drink and some light snacking finger food to eat before the meal and between courses.

TheCrumpetQueen Sun 29-Sep-13 18:25:56

Good tips!

AveryJessup Sun 29-Sep-13 18:29:29

We stopped eating out much when DS was between 9 and 18 months. There were a couple of family friendly places we went to and that was it. Now we are getting back into it again as he is almost 2 and can colour in, use his iPad etc.

daisydee43 Sun 29-Sep-13 18:33:08

Dd is 18mths so walking - restaurants are a nightmare - best tips: go when they are not tired and only for a quick meal. I don't take dd to restaurants often but sometimes you have to

froken Sun 29-Sep-13 18:49:57

We go to our local restaurant really early (4.30 ish) we are usually the only ones in there and we let ds crawl about, he loves pulling himself up on chairs and crawling under the tables.

We know the owners fairly well far to lazy and eat out too often so we asked them if they minded, they said ofcourse not, they bring ds some fresh bread and milk ( that he doesn't drink but dp drinks it whilst they are not looking)

If ds was making a fuss we'd take him away but so far he seems to enjoy it smile

QTPie Sun 29-Sep-13 20:18:56

DS was always fine whilst still eating... Do quick meals, and lots of little finger foods (ie box of raisins).

I think that it is good to get them used to cafes/restaurants at an early age (otherwise they still won't get it when they are walking), but you have to set expectations low, choose family friendly or "child tolerant" places (noisy with lots going on helps). and be prepared to keep them busy with food and toys and make a "quick exit" if things get hairy....

debbie1412 Mon 30-Sep-13 06:32:59

We had to take about a year off from doing it. The joys the joys x

StupidFlanders Mon 30-Sep-13 06:52:03

Lower your standards of restaurants! We have a couple "ds safe" favourites and buy take always more often.

MiaowTheCat Mon 30-Sep-13 07:30:38

Get them not to hold the child food back for the rest of the order. With the extra time it takes for kids to eat it means more chance of you all finishing together!

Roshbegosh Mon 30-Sep-13 07:33:21

Give the rest of us a break and stay home please. Your DC can get used to restaurants later. If you must then yes, go when they are empty.

TheCrumpetQueen Mon 30-Sep-13 08:19:14

Thanks for the great advice. I think we will take a break from proper restaurants but we go to a lovely family friendly one which is has lots of shrieking kids.

Rosh To be clear my ds doesn't disturb anyone, he never cries and I get told how good he is but that is down to a lot of distraction/iPhone playing etc which isn't very relaxing for me and dp. I never agree with letting children scream in restaurants so please don't tell me what to do, when you don't know what I do at all!

QTPie Mon 30-Sep-13 09:02:52

OP, it can just be about finding half reasonable kid friendly restaurants - restaurants that are noisy with a lot going on. Favourites with us include Yo Sushi (surprisingly popular with families with small children...) and Jamie's Italian: both noisy with a lot going on (where you won't disturb anyone and LO will be some what entertained by the environment), but reasonable food (although not gourmet) and not too many shrieking kids.

Radiator1234 Mon 30-Sep-13 09:10:00

I can't remember at what age it started ie crawling/ cruising/walking /talking / tantrums .... But sometime between about 1 and 2 I thought it was way too much hassle and stress to go out with my DD who is now 3....fortunately now she can be entertained/reasoned with/ bribed/ sit still and do coloring .... So it's back on! My other DD is just on the brink of crawling though so if guess my leisurely lunch days are soon to be numbered for the short term !

stubbornstains Mon 30-Sep-13 10:09:33

Depends on the child. If you have one who's happy to sit at your feet and do colouring, then it's OK. Mine was a bolter, so I didn't do restaurants or cafes between the ages of 1 and 3. Why pay good money to be stressed and anxious? He's 3.5 now, and we have been eating out quite a lot recently- it's great, but there's still no lingering and chatting possible.

silverangel Mon 30-Sep-13 10:11:56

Yep - we only go to restauranty pubs now - DTs are 2.3 and are much better if they don't have to sit for ages. Anything else is too stressful!

PicnicPie Mon 30-Sep-13 10:20:04

We go with our DD who is 9 months and crawling and cruising. It is hardly the relaxing meal we hope for but we are persevering just so at she gets used to it. We eat quickly and take lots of crap stuff with us to keep her entertained. We normally go at less busy times.

That, or we leave her with MIL grin.

Lottie4 Mon 30-Sep-13 10:39:52

When our daughter was younger, we went to places with an in or outdoor play area. If you go somewhere like this, which is obviously family friendly then I think you can relax a bit more. It's hard to keep them in one place and you will have to persevere, but we generally wanted our daughter to stay still when ordering food, one of us would then take her off to play and then while eating. Again, she could go off to play afterwards. Inbetween we had things like books, little toys and paper and crayons. The turning point for us was when she actually started eating properly and could choose something herself (she was an early talker), sometime when she was 18 months I think. She seemed to enjoy choosing a meal for herself.

OcadoSubstitutedMyHummus Mon 30-Sep-13 11:02:19

We have tended to go at very quiet times eg 5pm, order quickly and something that won't take too long to come and don't have a starter. Then take child to have a look at interesting pictures on the walls or whatever whilst food is cooked. The sitting and waiting bit whilst getting hungry is what causes the real problems IME.

Graciescotland Mon 30-Sep-13 11:06:49

Strategic sofas are your friend; if you can find one with a side pressed to the wall then your DC can stand up peeking over the back and you have space for books/ toys. Transfer to a high chair when eating.

Quenelle Mon 30-Sep-13 11:20:09

We sort of gave up at that age, although partly because we couldn't afford to eat out often anyway.

But DS is 4yo now and always behaves well on the rare occasions we do go out. We take non-annoying toys and/or books to keep him occupied.

So I would say it's not critical to persevere to ensure they behave when they're older.

nappyaddict Mon 30-Sep-13 11:31:06

Pizza Hut and Harvester are good because you get the free salad bar that they can graze on whilst waiting for the food. Also carvery/all you can eat buffet type places because there is no waiting involved - you just go up straight away with your plate.

With DS I only used to put him in the highchair for actual eating. In between courses I let him get out so he didn't get fed up of being restrained. I would take him for a walk in either the bar area if it was quiet or outside for a bit if it wasn't raining. If we couldn't do that then it was sitting on my lap colouring, playing with stickers or play dough, looking at a book, playing with fabric toys etc. I never took noisy toys or plastic, wood or metal toys because they make a racket when they bang them on the table.

I always ask for DS' food to come out as soon as it is ready, even now at 7 because he takes so long to eat. If he finishes before us I usually order his dessert which then keeps him occupied for a bit longer.

Also I find family run places at quiet can be a bit more tolerant of children than so called family friendly chains. The chains are never empty and can get really busy and a baby crawling/toddling/running about is going to get on people's nerves. The local Chinese, Greek, Thai and Italian restaurants are nearly always empty at 12pm and 5pm. The Indian is the same but not open at lunchtime.

ILetHimKeep20Quid Mon 30-Sep-13 11:37:01

There's a period of time where you just don't bother! With both my boys from about 10m - 18m-2yrs it was more hassle than it was worth! It's doable but a lot of effort and going out for a meal is meant to be fun - for everyone!

But both are able to behave and now enjoy eating out.

Dollybird99 Mon 30-Sep-13 11:49:20

RoshBegosh - useful comment...not

Morebiscuitsplease Mon 30-Sep-13 12:30:47

We used to go to places that served us promptly, never had dessert sad but they generally liked it and behaved well. We always eat at the table at home and have always had to ask to leave the table so eating out was no different.I phones are great to keep occupied while waiting. Sometimes we needed to make a fast exit...only to find the bill paying would take ages. sad. On that point Nandos is good as you pay up front.

waterlego Mon 30-Sep-13 12:36:19

Like others, we had a phase where we just didn't do it because it wasn't relaxing for us or others in the restaurant so we shelved it for a while and then it was fine once they were a bit older.

Snowgirl1 Mon 30-Sep-13 12:45:00

Go with friends? One parent gets to have a conversation with friends, other follows crawler around restaurant/entertains crawler (if you're lucky friends might do this too). Not ideal as it means you miss conversations and have to take turn at eating, but it's an option.

Retropear Mon 30-Sep-13 13:03:39

I agree with Rosh,restaurants aren't soft play,others have paid to eat.If you're having to put that much effort in stick to a quick coffee in a cafe until they're older and can manage more.

zatyaballerina Mon 30-Sep-13 13:11:37

It's good to get them used to eating out in public but they should never be allowed to use a restaurant or cafe as a playground, it isn't. Stick to quick lunches and be ready to leave by the time he get's frustrated in the highchair.

We try and order, then let the 2yo DTs roam outside (take them to an interesting shop or go and look for ducks or something if there's no garden space), and only put them in their high chairs once the food is pretty much ready.

I always take snacky food as well, in case there is a bit of a wait, although the danger then is that they end up filling up on snacks, not eating their food, and getting fractious while you eat yours.

We have had some lovely meals and some total disasters. I think it's worth persevering though so it's not a shock when they get older.

Wishihadabs Mon 30-Sep-13 13:32:45

Depends on the child and the venue. Never ever ever let your crawling/cruising/just walking child go free range, it just isn't fair on the staff or other diners. Both mine had a lunchtime snooze at that age so I would bring the buggy and probably their food too. Feed them quickly then rock them to sleep so I could enjoy my lunch. Dd would sit through an evening meal (3 courses) by just less than 2, Ds by 2.5 so it quite a short time realy.

Wishihadabs Mon 30-Sep-13 13:35:13

Agree with twelve leg walk. A realistic expectation at that age is to stay in high chair for the actual eating (and a coffee if your luck is in) definitely don't use it up before the food arrives.

Katienana Mon 30-Sep-13 14:03:16

I take some snacks of my own in case the food doesn't come quickly. Also try putting in the high chair at the last minute. Bring a book or two, or a car or something that will keep baby occupied for a few minutes at a time. I just try to keep the food coming and he seems happy to stay in there for a while. Take it turns with whoever you are with to take him for a walk otherwise. I find department store cafes are good, as are places with other entertainment (e.g. petting farm, park etc) as then the meal is not the whole event. We have taken our son to Strada, Frankie & Benny and various other places like fish and chip restaurant, and on holiday he ate in a restaurant environment 3x a day and was fine. He probably eats out 2x a week on average. I think just keep doing it, don't feel bad about food on the floor, and accept that you can't linger for hours and hours!

curiousgeorgie Mon 30-Sep-13 14:46:42

I never stopped going out because of DD.. I used to take food I knew she would eat, but that she could eat herself that would take a long time, like breadsticks, raisins, dry cereal, and set up a portable DVD player or ipad for her.

I never let her out of the high chair during a meal, or it's game over as you then can't get them back in. She's now almost 3 and a very good restaurant goer grin

minipie Mon 30-Sep-13 15:11:10

DD is a similar age, seems to be ok in restaurants for a max of 1.5 hours at the moment, but that's enough for a main course and coffee.

my strategy is:

- pick somewhere casual eg Gastropub or cafe/bar type place. Genuinely Italian-run places tend to be DC friendly too
- arrive at restaurant at or just before DD's lunchtime
- position high chair facing lots of action - if there is an open kitchen or bar area she can watch, or a window facing busy street, this is a godsend.
- order our food (one course only)
- feed her something quickly while our food is coming, so she's not hungry
- loads of finger foods while I am eating, incl bits of mine usually - keeps her occupied reasonably well, I bring a couple of toys (ones that attach to high chair) as well
- play it by ear as to whether we can have coffee/pudding, depending on DD's mood
- leave and dd will have her post lunch nap in the pram.

I think it helps that from about 12.30-1.30 dd is heading towards her post lunch nap, so she's not massively full of beans and wanting to rampage, but she's also not missing her nap and screamy tired.

Does your DS have a similar pre nap quieter period, maybe you could go out during that time?

ringaringarosy Mon 30-Sep-13 17:36:54

take some bits and bobs to keep him occupied while your waiting for food and dont leave it too long after eating to go,it will be a hwile yet before its leisurely,i agree though,its good to get them used to eating out when young as you can do it more when they are older.

PlateSpinningAtAllTimes Mon 30-Sep-13 19:40:19

quenelle are you me? I could have written that exact post! Agree with everyone who says avoiding eating out during that awkward older baby/young toddler stage doesn't seem to have done any harm. Much easier from 2ish onwards.

bumperella Mon 30-Sep-13 19:58:33

It doesn't hinder them to not eat out for a couple of years... they'll learn how to behave at the table as easily at home as they will in public. I have eaten out with my toddlers but choose relaxed-café atmosphere rather than fine-dining, and more from happy necessity than as a family treat or educational experience.

gloucestergirl Mon 30-Sep-13 20:07:39

We have spent a lot of time looking for large hotels or places that have child-friendly nooks or are empty at certain times. We let DD run around as it is only us or one or two kindly souls who think that she is cute.

Lots of research and knowing our limits basically.

BettyandDon Mon 30-Sep-13 20:09:00

Are you anywhere near W London OP ? There is just the place for you if you have a bit of spare Wonga...

gloucestergirl Mon 30-Sep-13 20:09:15

And of course, timing it so that she is asleep and then running to the nearest nicest eating estabilshment for an hour or two undisturbed.

TheCrumpetQueen Mon 30-Sep-13 20:45:00

Not far from West London if its worth the drive...

Thanks for the tips, v useful, agree on not going if its just going to be stressful and results in me glugging gaviscon when I get home. Will probably ease off until he's 2-3 years

ToddleWaddle Mon 30-Sep-13 20:56:58

Going out for breakfast can be a good alternative. Little ones are usually quite happy in the morning and can have favourites like dippy egg and sausage. Lots of colouring, stickers and some small toys.

ShoeWhore Mon 30-Sep-13 21:11:55

I agree that taking a break from eating out will do no harm at all in the long run.

Ds1 and ds2 were always very well behaved and we could take them literally anywhere and bask in the compliments grin Ds1 especially lunched in some very grownup establishments.

Ds3 was a totally different animal and it was impossible to eat anywhere with him between the ages of about 1 and 3. He was a total nightmare. He escaped highchairs. He climbed on tables. He crawled under tables. He threw cutlery. We gave up.

Then it got OK again and he is brilliant now. Last time we went on holiday we enjoyed long leisurely lunches and were complimented on his behaviour. Try not to worry about it, in the grand scheme of things this time is quite short.

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 22:18:19

Have a 21mth old escape artist, and eating out has been a total mare to be avoided if at all possible since he started crawling. Your posts have filled me with hope that it will get better. Meanwhile OP, no tips, sorry!

LapinDeBois Mon 30-Sep-13 22:46:19

My boys are 6 and 3 and we rarely go out to eat. They're not badly behaved considering, but it's more that eating out is expensive, and not really worth it when we're not enjoying ourselves because we're constantly overseeing the kids and rushing through our food so we're not in there too long. No offence to others on here but I don't buy the argument that you have to get children used to restaurants early. When I was young families ate out far, far less than they do now, but I don't remember any problem 'getting used' to restaurants once I was older. And to be honest if kids are busy colouring or using ipads then they're not getting used to restaurant behaviour anyway - they're just being distracted, regardless of where they are. In my view, 'restaurant behaviour' is about nice table manners and joining in conversation, which is really something for older kids (and is probably best learnt at home anyway). Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with well behaved kids of any age being in restaurants - I just don't agree that it's somehow necessary to shape future behaviour.

kateandme Mon 30-Sep-13 23:35:51

dont give up.noty going out is fuelling the playing up.they will learn and it will get easier.colouring books are very helpful or a book.if others are having starters,ask if you can have a salad fr them to pick at.try places you know youll get served quicker to start,even cafes so they start to experience the idea behind eating out.make it exciting!!their treat!!

BaniPahal Tue 01-Oct-13 01:17:57

My baby has reflux and as advised by the Health Visitor I was told to try the Aptimil Reflux Milk. Initially it worked a treat as the milk thickened up. Recently I have noticed that the milk doesn't seem to thicken and my baby is being sick after every feed. Just wondering if anyone else has noticed this?

Pitmountainpony Tue 01-Oct-13 04:46:46

Oh gosh Rosh...do you think this about planes too. Crickey I wish all the non child friendly people would stay home and not bring their low tolerance into the public arena.

I am fine with your child running and crying. It is what children do. I am sure you will attend to their needs when this happens and I as a mother feel nothing but empathy for you.
Having said that expect no more than half an hour and ask for the check when the meal is served. We do more takeout or cheap family friendly places because frankly rushing a meal in a restaurant is a waste of money somehow.

Roshbegosh Tue 01-Oct-13 05:33:34

Pitmountain, no I do feel sorry for people bringing LO's on planes. I live in yummy mummy land and have had some lovely evenings wrecked by a child screaming, banging cutlery on the table etc. Their mothers drag them out when they would clearly prefer to be home with mum rather than some kind of ignored accessory in a restaurant. You mention running and crying, well no, I don't want to put up with that going on next to me all evening when I am out with DH or friends for a nice meal and chat.

Roshbegosh Tue 01-Oct-13 05:36:01

banipahal perhaps that needs a new thread, sorry I don't know about how to manage reflux. Hope you got some sleep.

minipie Tue 01-Oct-13 08:14:42

"Their mothers drag them out when they would clearly prefer to be home with mum"

um, what about the dads Rosh?

agree though that it's a daft idea to take a small child out past their bedtime, they will act up.

MadeOfStarDust Tue 01-Oct-13 08:41:23

In a restaurant or cafe I would be most concerned about safety of the child - if they are a bolter, then they could get a hot coffee spilled all over them.

I went against the "usual" MN grain here though - didn't take mine out to eat 'til they were about 5 anyhow.... at that age they would sit and eat and talk with us.... which was part of the point of going out for a meal together.

Tailtwister Tue 01-Oct-13 08:53:31

We found that going somewhere familiar helped. We kept to 2 or 3 places where we knew we could remove them if needed and bring back when they were settled. We never allowed them to crawl/walk between tables, they had to be in the highchair or sitting on us all the time. We tended to divide and conquer, so one of us would eat whilst the other took the child off for a bit. Also, we never ate out with them in the evening, always at lunchtime.

To be fair, I think it really depends on the child. We have been fairly lucky with our 2, but I don't think that's down to us particularly. Some children just can't sit still for long and there's nothing you can do about that. Now they are 3 and 5 we can take them to very nice places, although we still have to be respectful of other diners. Some friends of ours invited us to the opening of their new restaurant and the looks on some of the other diner's faces was a picture (the place did have a children's menu/high chairs, so we weren't taking them where they weren't welcome). Once people saw they behaved though they were fine. In fact they were quieter than most of the adults!

Peetle Tue 01-Oct-13 09:14:38

Submit your entire order while you're taking your coats off and get the bill when it comes. Have lots of toys to occupy them, though ours have now reached an age when electronica absorb them. We always have the problem of "two bites and they're full/bored"; getting the DTs to eat anything has always been a challenge, so we are under some time pressure. But we stick to Pizza Express (though no part of the experience can actually be described as express) and Giraffe, and their ilk, so at least if your kids are being a pain, most of the other punters are sympathetic.

LapinDeBois Tue 01-Oct-13 10:18:06

Thing is, I just don't really see the point of going out if it's essentially something to be got through rather than enjoyed. And at the risk of sounding like my mother, I find it a little bit sad that children are often glued to their iPads in cafes etc. surely if you want to get them used to good restaurant behaviour, that's about interacting with fellow diners and enjoying the food - the opposite of playing on an iPad. Yes, electronic stuff is great as a distraction if things are getting tricky, but often parents seem to take kids out with no intention of doing anything other than letting them play on phones etc. I was at an airport restaurant a while ago, and a family of four (2 boys of about 6 and 8) sat down at the next table. They got their food, then the mum buried herself in the paper, the dad went on his laptop, the boys got out their iPads, and none of them spoke a single word to each other throughout the whole meal. They then did exactly the same in the departure lounge. I found it quite depressing. They were clearly off on holiday, on a plane, which should be really exciting, yet they apparently didn't have anything to talk about. My kids aren't perfect, and if they'd been there there would doubtless have been a few cross words at times, but we would also have been talking about the flight, watching the planes, looking at the departure board and trying to work out the countries, guessing where people were going, probably doing an I-spy at the airport book - at least communicating with each other.

TheCrumpetQueen Tue 01-Oct-13 10:35:32

I agree with you Lapin and that does sound sad sad

My would easily sit on his phone all day long but I've banned them at dinner time (yes, banned a grown man) but needs must. I don't want my ds to pick up habits like that.
When I was little we would chat, laugh or have discussions around the table, not ignore eachother.

We're going to go for an early dinner today around 5pm at a very family friendly restaurant/pub place (they have a back room for all the families) so we'll see how it goes.

Good tips on not bringing wooden toys as ds is always banging things now. I've got some finger puppets which he loves from ikea

TheCrumpetQueen Tue 01-Oct-13 10:35:57

My dp that should say second paragraph

TheYamiOfYawn Tue 01-Oct-13 10:40:29

I just stopped eating out with children for around 18 months each, and started once they were old enough to behave appropriately. although a lot less often because by then there were more of them to feed.

TheCrumpetQueen Tue 01-Oct-13 10:46:51

It's just dawned on me that it will be years before I really eat out as a family as we want another dc when ds is around 2.5/3 - just as he will be ready to take out I might have a newborn confused

LapinDeBois Tue 01-Oct-13 12:16:13

Hey, just think of the money you'll save Crumpet. Case in point: over the summer, we were staying with my parents and they thought it would be fun for us to take the kids for a pub lunch. They chose a nice pub (not super-gastropub but nice food), with a garden but no specific kids' play stuff. Anyway, the food was v nice and the kids ate well, but we were plagued by wasps (the pub seemed to have some sort of wasp magnet!), the kids were reasonably loud (although not naughty) so I was always conscious of the other diners (weekday, no other kids there), they were restless once they'd finished so we left straight after eating, and the whole experience lasted no more than an hour. The bill for four of us (for a burger/baguette/salad plus pudding and drink) came to about £75. Add another £30 and we could have gone to Legoland or something, rather than spend an hour in a pub, feeling slightly stressed. The pub was right next to a lovely little river, and I just kept thinking how much more fun we would all have been having if we'd had a picnic in the field instead, for free, where we could have lingered for ages while the kids played in the river.

katieperez Tue 01-Oct-13 12:18:49

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sherbetpips Tue 01-Oct-13 12:30:10

Keep it short, no starters or deserts just a yummy main course and lots of snacks and things to keep them entertained. Italian restuarants are always great for noisy families.
Also try to resist walking round the restaurant with your DC or letting them run around because it is quite. It cant be okay sometimes and not other times as that just confuses them.
This period doesnt last long, you will soon be back to relaxed dining - promise x

sherbetpips Tue 01-Oct-13 12:31:37

Also listen to the kids - if they really really dont want to go out to eat, get a takeaway and have fun at home, dragging kids to a restaurant never works out well (can you tell I have been there???)

TheCrumpetQueen Tue 01-Oct-13 13:45:29

Picnics will be good next spring/summer, great idea!

Wishihadabs Tue 01-Oct-13 14:44:41

Cheer up crumpetqueen. One of my happiest memories of dd's babyhood was having a meal in a restaurant garden she was 3 weeks old Ds was 2.5. We continued to eat out regularly for the whole of her 1st year. Although I do remember a sticky adult grown-up lunch party that went on fooorever when she was 6mo (Ds would have been 3). I think you can easily take a newborn and 2-3 year old out to eat.

Phoebe47 Tue 01-Oct-13 15:16:26

DH and I have never had any trouble taking our children out to eat and I think this is because we have always sat at the table as a family for all meals. This has really paid off as they have learned very early to sit nicely, chat to one another and us (once they could talk!) whilst eating their meal. They have also learned to sit at the table until everyone is finished. I think this sort of behaviour has to be learned at home and then it is less difficult to transfer to the restaurant area.

aciddrops Tue 01-Oct-13 19:37:53

It is no fun at that stage so best to give up until they are older. No point paying good money on restaurant food if it is a stressful experience.

tedmundo Tue 01-Oct-13 20:19:04

My top tip is ..... All you can eat buffet style places.

Lots of getting up and down so they don't get bored sitting still for ages.

There is usually a chocolate fountain.

They get to choose what they eat.

They are noisy, busy places so you won't be in any way 'unusual'.

And did I mention the chocolate fountain?

maddy68 Tue 01-Oct-13 20:23:16

Take lots of quiet toys like books when they are small. But I do believe that they have to learn to just sit quietly in a restaurant so once they are old enough to understand then they just have to sit there

SaltySeaBird Tue 01-Oct-13 20:44:22

We took 11mo DD to a very posh restaurant (had a Travel Zoo voucher to use up). I did check beforehand and they said it was fine and they would sort out a high chair.

She was amazingly well behaved. A board book kept her entertained while we settled and then a steady supply of food kept her quiet (the restaurant made her mini pizzas and chunky potato wedges).

We are lucky she is a very good eater and will happily suck and chew on food for hours and hours. I couldn't take her somewhere non-food orientated though, then she is a nightmare!

MilkRunningOutAgain Tue 01-Oct-13 21:14:30

We just did child friendly places when they were toddlers, pizza restaurants, our local child friendly Italian and a local Indian where there is a buffet and the children adore chicken tikka and egg fried rice. But we ate and went, we didn't sit for long.

Do kids really take ages to eat? Mine have always taken about the same time that DH and I do, from tiny baby stage onwards.

Pixielady83 Tue 01-Oct-13 21:52:08

We found going out with DD fine until she was about 1, then after a horrific meal out (food took forever to arrive, she got very restless after doing 100s of circuits round restaurant, ended with a broken glass after flailing and a tantrum) we left it for a few months. By 2 she was brilliant to take out - especially to Italian places (olives, pasta, pizza, garlic bread - all her faves) or all you can eat - she loves the variety and food is ready immediately. I really enjoy going out with her now although we only really do it on holiday. We do still think about where we are going in terms of how child friendly, do they have a play area, and how long does food take - that's the biggest killer IMO, even now if there's a massive gap between courses it's still a bit much to ask of her to sit nicely for that long. Think the advice to stick to one course is wise!

rubybambini Tue 01-Oct-13 22:27:49

We do weekend morning eating out - which generally spells brunch for us, lunch for DD. As someone else has pointed out, brunch menus with eggs, toast, sausage, fruit and fruit juices are generally OK with all ages.

DD is now 2.5, and we entertain her by looking / walking around whilst food arrives, probably going to the toilet, playing at 'paying' and lining up money / plastic cards, letting her be a big girl and spreading butter on her own toast, cutting our food, maybe some crayoning etc etc. Being outside also helps for some reason.

Most success with local informal cafes (we're over-served in east London for breakfast options), followed by chains like Giraffe and Pizza Express - their dough balls!

We've also done smarter breakfasts, eg the Delauney and Riding House Cafe - both worked well, but it was definitely a case of order, eat, leave and not much on the lingering front. Still, we, as parents got the eating out hit, and when you leave, it's still only 10am and no baby-sitting costs. Magic!

flowersinavase Wed 02-Oct-13 01:12:46

Order asap. Ask for the children's food to be brought out first/with your first course.

Please don't order from the kids' menu. Order them real food.

The last time we went out with DD she fell off her chair and put her teeth through her lip. Cue huge amounts of blood and screaming. It was the final straw for us and now I avoid eating out with her (currently 3.1) unless I can't avoid it. It's not relaxing or enjoyable; it's just stressful. I end up eating my food so fast it hardly touches the sides, so it's also a waste of money: I may as well have just got a Subway.... We hired an apartment this holiday rather than stay in a hotel, chiefly so we had our own kitchen and dining room. We will try again in a year or two...

Pitmountainpony Wed 02-Oct-13 04:19:49

Well Rosh....thank goodness I do not live in yummy mummy land.
When I see families out I assume the mother is probably knackered and wanting a night off cooking and I guess I value her right to do that as much as the child free people,s right to enjoy their meal with no potential interruptions from other people.children are part of the world so I expect them to be in all the places of the world.
Personally we eat quickly and I save fancy restaurants for when I am on girls' nights out but I just feel empathy for the other juggling her fractious child that maybe was not that way when they sat down. Maybe it some British legacy of the intolerance to children compared to other cultures like Italy or the US where incidentally I am and mostly places really accommodate you.

Roshbegosh Wed 02-Oct-13 05:18:58

You might change your mind about having this inflicted on you when your children are older. Even now, out with your friends or DH are you really happy to eat out with screamers, cutlery bashers etc at the next table? I don't mind the children actually and of course it's what they do but I would prefer to be able to get a break from the bedlam when I eat out.

Wishihadabs Wed 02-Oct-13 06:08:03

No Roshbegosh I couldn't care less. I always think "those poor parents" then "thank god it's not mine". Don't think that will ever change to be honest.

TheCrumpetQueen Wed 02-Oct-13 07:04:48

Of all the time I've eaten out at restaurants I've never experienced that Rosh maybe because I go out to eat at 8pm when I was child free or have a babysitter. Maybe go out later

Roshbegosh Wed 02-Oct-13 07:19:32

I do crumpet queen. It happens all the bloody time.

Oblomov Wed 02-Oct-13 07:31:37

Retropear and I totally agree with Rosh.
And I think they nasty comments to Rosh have been totally unwarranted.

I too believe that having a short break from eating out, does no one any harm. The youngster/toddler often doesn't want to be there. The parent is working really hard to keep the child entertained. How is that relaxing? Whilst you try to eat the good food, to entertain child, and turn around to find your meal gone cold.
I too suggest that you stick to softplay, child friendly places. And even then, it's hardly enjoyable. For anyone- You, child, general public. So what's the point?

Have a short break from this. And then come back, when you all can enjoy it and get your money's worth.

And no. I have 2 boys. But on the very rare occasion when I do get out for meal. And these are very valueable, because we don't have THAT much money, No I don't want to be surrounded by babies crawling and toddlers climbing up etc.

And yet if you say that you are painted as some sort of child hating intolerant person. I disagree.

matana Wed 02-Oct-13 08:26:00

A couple of options OP, but essentially yes, go to a family restaurant/ pub where you will hopefully stand a chance of avoiding people like Rosh.

I always took light finger food snacks like raisins and rice cakes for ds. They kept him occupied while not filling him up too much. I also took a bag of small toys with me and rotated them.

For a short period of time when ds was around 2 it just became too stressful and none of us enjoyed it, so we stopped going. He's almost 3 now and much better, though a real live wire who is incapable of sitting still for long so we tend to eat pretty fast or go to places where he can go off to a climbing frame or soft play area once he's eaten. We still try to avoid meals with my family (unless they're barbecues or buffets or whatever) when we know it will involve sitting down for 3 courses - that's still a bit beyond him! Unlike my niece who has sat quietly playing, drawing or colouring for as long as i can remember.

DH and i also used to take it in turns before our meals came out to take him for a little walk and show him around to keep him entertained. We then all ate together when the meals arrived.

And if we just wanted a break, we'd time eating so it co-incided with him sleeping - so maybe a late lunch for us, or an evening meal. We were extremely lucky that because DS is so active during the day he sleeps like a log at night. Up until he was 18 months we were able to do his bedtime routine, put his PJs on, lie him in his buggy wrapped in blankets and he either nodded off before we left the house or on the way to the pub/ restaurant. Of course this does rely on your chosen eatery being within walking distance and it not raining! He never, ever woke up and screamed and everyone commented how great it was.

BaconAndAvocado Wed 02-Oct-13 12:10:50

Avoid at all costs until they can use sticker books, the most wonderful invention in the world smile

nappyaddict Wed 02-Oct-13 13:59:43

flowersinavase - Why not order off the kids menu? Not all kids menus are chicken nuggets, frozen pizza and fish fingers.

From various places we have been to there's been tomato pasta, macaroni cheese, spag bol, lasagne, cottage pie, sausages, beef burger, hot dog - now I admit these meals aren't the healthiest as they are ready made and processed but larger versions of all these were also available on the adult's menu. We've been to italian restaurants with "proper" pizza, calzone, spag bol, lasagne and pasta dishes too. Then there has been spitroast chicken, chicken breast, chicken wings, ribs, chicken breast burger, steak, gammon, chicken wraps, hand battered fish, salmon, roast dinner, chicken salad. Are you saying you wouldn't order any of those dishes for your DC?

Oblomov Wed 02-Oct-13 15:57:46

Matana , you make a nasty comment about Rosh. But then go on to say that you stopped for a year, between ages 2-3.
Which is what I was suggesting. And others.
So how does that make sense?

flowersinavase Wed 02-Oct-13 18:07:43

Are you trying to start a fight nappy...?? You know very well that I meant the OP should avoid the processed junk style 'kids menus', not the cordon bleu menus you seem to have found.

Seriously - calm down.

matana Wed 02-Oct-13 19:12:05

Eh, Oblamov? I don't understand what you're saying, sorry. So the fact that we decided to stop going to restaurants for a few months when he was particularly bad (not between the ages of 2 and 3) means that I can't take exception to Rosh's comments? We made that decision for our own sanity because it was no fun, not to save the feelings of other diners. We have always eaten at family restaurants since ds's birth, not Michelin star ones. Diners at family restaurants should expect to encounter families, often with small children. My advice to the OP is practical and gives a few different suggestions other than just 'stop going to restaurants and annoying other diners' which I think is valid.

Florin Wed 02-Oct-13 19:38:36

We have taken our ds out at least once a week from 3 days old for meals. When he was small we used to go for a drink, if he was settled order starters if still ok orders mains etc. now he is 15 months we still enjoy meals out at both family restaurants and quite nice restaurants. We only go at lunch as he goes to bed at 6. As we love going out for lunch we have purposely set up his routine to fit in with meals out so he has his nap 10:30-12 and then lunch at 12:30 so it works well. My ds does not make any loud noise and all three if us enjoy the experience. We go prepared with snack cup full of those Ella's kitchen puffits. It keeps him busy if he starts fussing and doesn't fill him up. He then has another for after his meal full of cut up grapes. Due to us blw our ds has enjoyed 'proper' food from the start and from about 8 months old we have ordered him a proper meal in a restaurant. We often see if the menu is on their website and if so look to see what we can order for ds so we can order for ds as we sit down if not we ask for a menu and order something for him as soon as we get the menu and ask them to bring ds's meal ASAP. We then have time to order our own meals. Our ds loves food so will spend a while eating his and will often eat bits of ours too. He is not allowed to leave the table. If he has finished eating we have a selection of quiet toys, mainly books. We are lucky as he eats pretty much anything and vast quantities and there is nothing that makes him happier than sharing a meal together so last week we were at a restaurant having a fruits de mer which he adored and couldn't get enough of trying everything and kept him busy. When we take him to non family friendly restaurants it is rare for someone not to come up to us and compliment us on his behaviour and his eating. I agree about not ordering off the children's menu as some of them are awful. We normally ask him for a child's portion off the main menu. You can do it, depending on the child and as long as you are prepared and most importantly we really enjoy it without disturbing others in the restaurant.

Pitmountainpony Thu 03-Oct-13 02:10:08

Am I the only one who eats out weekly to have a break from cooking...even taking take out home you have it all to clear up...I like going in and ordering quickly and being out in 45 mins max......but then we can all eat out here for 12 to 20 quid so we do not resent spending that to have a night off cooking. Loads of families eat out regularly here and it is geared up...coloring stuff etc.
I love that night off cooking and thinking of what to cook for dinner to break the week up. But I would not want to spend a lot because it is true you do not get time to really appreciate the food......but that is every meal for me these days.....I see most people manage their kids if they get unsettled...no one sits and lets them cry for long. Tolerance and empathy here from me. You have to out up with other noise like loud pissed laughing and loud talkers so no different.....smokers back in the day ...now that was a hideous thing to put up with and I had and have no tolerance because they are impacting my body and my health. A crying kid, the impact is minimal.

TheCrumpetQueen Thu 03-Oct-13 08:18:45

Yes, I definitely like the break from cooking and cleaning.

MadeOfStarDust Thu 03-Oct-13 09:14:29

the thing is, there are a few different schools of thought here - there is the "standard" view on MN that everyone goes out to eat at the drop of a hat, eating out every week... so of course kids should be indulged and who cares if little whoever has a melt down, everyone should just have empathy and think about the poor old parents.....

then there is the other side - you know... the real life side... the one where not EVERYONE is a parent of a precious baby or toddler.... the people for whom eating out is a bit special, the people who actually SAVE UP to go out for a night... they might want to eat at a reasonable hour and not be subjected to kids screaming (not crying - some scream) and running around ...

"DOWN NOW!!! NOW, NOWWWWWWWWWWWW" was the refrain repeated at 20 second intervals for at least 10 min from the approximately 2-3 year old (you forget size/age... mine are 11 and 12 now) on the table next to us at 9.30pm in our local restaurant - until the maître de asked politely for the parents to try to solve the problem instead of just saying "No".....

minipie Thu 03-Oct-13 09:35:45

Hang on a sec - the OP and most of the subsequent posts are talking about how to ensure DCs do behave themselves in restaurants and don't annoy others. no one is saying go out even if they behave badly.

TheCrumpetQueen Thu 03-Oct-13 09:38:22

9.30pm??!! <faints> I'm in bed by then myself grin

I haven't seen many replies with the 'usual mn response' though. Most have said have a break from it while its too stressful.

To be honest ds isn't that bad yet as he can't walk and can be distracted easily, plus we leave by 6.30pm latest.

I certainly won't be one of those parents like you've mentioned as its thoughtless. But I would take them to family orientated places - burger bars etc

TheCrumpetQueen Thu 03-Oct-13 09:38:48

X-post with mini exactly!

Going out for lunch is generally more successful than going out for dinner IMHO.

Yy to picking places that serve quickly and/or self-service. We find Indian and Chinese restaurants more welcoming of children than American style. Particularly our family-run Indian where I am some kind of goddess for producing multiple sons who love spicy food.

Be ready to leave, fast, when they show signs of flagging.

Similarly with the cinema we have started with the cheap Kids AM session where everybody's twitchy and the film is a U and short. Just lowering one's expectations so they can actually be met.

MiaowTheCat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:32:35

Lunch usually works better than dinner by far. However I do kind of agree with the "don't do it if they're going to be really difficult to manage and just allowed to run amok" line. DD1 (18 months) is fantastic when eating out - I'm lucky in that regard that the bulk of the time she will sit and look at a book while waiting and quite happily people-watch the world go by. However what I'm getting very bloody sick of lately is when she's doing this and being really nicely behaved - other people let their kids run around and come up and bother us constantly - meaning she eats nothing because of the distractions and I spend my time managing THEIR kids' behaviour as well as my own. Meanwhile they're sat there completely ignoring their kid pestering everyone else and limpet mining onto our table.

MIL is on about wanting to take us all out for lunch near Christmas and that one I'm putting my foot down and saying no to - the kids act up when she's around as she undermines me constantly (and I get stressed over that which they pick up on), everywhere is going to be heaving and by that point tempers will be short anyway - there's no way I'm putting us through it (plus DH will just sit there eating his meal in oblivious splendour while mine is getting cold as I sort two kids out and MIL picks at everything I'm doing - fuck that for any idea of a "nice meal out")

IamSlave Thu 03-Oct-13 12:44:35


Children have as much right to be in restaurants as other users.

Most people are tolerant and if they really kick up or make a noise take them straight out.

Xollob Fri 04-Oct-13 00:37:05

Although in theory it is lovely to take children to decent restaurants, in practice it can be stressful. We decided it just wasn't enjoyable. Now it's really lovely - they know how to behave (not saying they do behave, but they know how to) & they love eating. Once they get to 10 or so you have to pay for adult portions, so make the most of 5-10.

nappyaddict Fri 04-Oct-13 23:01:08


No, I took it to mean what you said and don't order off the kids menu.

Those menus weren't found in posh places - Marston pubs, Harvester, Frankie & Benny's etc.

A lot of the time the adult's menu contain as much processed junk as the kid's menu.

TheCrumpetQueen Sat 05-Oct-13 07:54:43

My ds is only 9 months but is just eating what we eat so he usually eats bits off our plates when we go out. But some places like Monkey Nuts in crouch end do really nice childrens menus (like chargeilled chicken, mash and veg) it's usually too big but they're happy to wrap it up and he has it for lunch the next day smile

SanityClause Sat 05-Oct-13 08:06:43

DS will learn how to behave in a restaurant, even if he never goes into one until he is a teenager.

If you teach table manners at home, the rest is just a matter of understanding you have to choose from a menu, give your order to the waiting staff, etc. Not that difficult.

If going to a restaurant is fun for all of you, go for it. If its not, it really will not hurt his future ability to eat in restaurants, if he doesn't go to them as a toddler.

ProfYaffle Sat 05-Oct-13 08:19:54

We perfected the 'smash and grab' lunch at that age. (Tea times/evenings far too stressful so we stuck to lunchtimes.) The idea is to get in and out as quickly as possible, the poster who mentioned you have a limited amount of time when they're happy to sit in the highchair is spot on.

I always took a bag of crayons/paper/stickers and the like, always had one course, dessert was pushing it! If the dc got restless we'd walk them round or take them outside to distract them.

It does get easier, they're 9 and 6 now and fantastic when eating out, we've even graduated to evenings grin

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