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Talk to Organix about taking your child out for a meal: you could win £100 restaurant voucher - NOW CLOSED

(117 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Sep-13 11:28:35

Organix are interested in your views on the standards of food served to children and experiences of families when eating out in the UK.

Organix say "We're working in partnership with the Soil Association to inspire restaurants and pubs to provide real food, real choices and a great experience for children. We have created a league table of the top 21 restaurant chains in the UK and their offering for children. Now we'd like to know what you think about this topic".

Please share on this thread what you think about the below:

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Add your comment and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win £100 of Love2Shop Restaurant vouchers (valid at hundreds of restaurants across the UK). The prize draw will happen on Monday 30 September.

You can read all about Organix, the Out to Lunch campaign and how you can get involved on their special pages on MN.

thanks and good luck.
MNHQ

MadMonkeys Mon 23-Sep-13 13:04:42

I have breastfed in loads of cares and restaurants with no problems at all. I don't find kids options that good, dd1 is picky and dd2 has allergies so i tend to take their food with me - nobody has objected yet. Independent places seem to be better for kids in my experience. They seem more happy to adapt their meal choices if asked and in my experience they seem to use fresher ingredients and cook from scratch more, which makes it easier to request plain things - like a completely plain bowl of pasta for example.

gazzalw Mon 23-Sep-13 13:07:17

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I think there's enough choice of chain/independent cafes/restaurants (they seem to be the only business sector flourishing currently!) to find good food options for children BUT there is a tendency to fall back on the chicken nuggets and chips type meals....

I do think things have improved or maybe it's just that our children are getting older and are prepared to be more adventurous in their food choices!

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

We've been to a couple of independently run restaurants and pubs (local too) where the children's options have been half an adult sized portion of whatever...that makes much more sense and gives the children no other choice but to venture out of their default menu comfort zone!

To be encouraged methinks!

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think they are better but usually because they're actually more passionate about food and won't stoop to go with low-nutrition/interest food options for children!

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

DW breastfed both of ours and in plenty of pubs/restaurants....I'm not sure she had any problems but that was a fair few years ago. She has commented herself that you seem to see fewer women feeding in public than when our DCs were at that stage/age....

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Provide more comfortable seating (or a partially 'cloistered comfy area) in which to breastfeed?

Possibly have a designated feeding room (I know finance wouldn't always allow for a spare room just for this purpose but I'm sure it would be popular with Mums!).

Some sort of national "we welcome breastfeeding mums" logo/sticker to give breastfeeding mums the 'thumbs-up' - also as a way of informing other diners that there may be breast-feeding mums 'at large' so not to be surprised/offended....

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes, in many restaurants the children's offering is always sausage, chicken nuggets or fish fingers with mash, chips, beans, peas combination, with a tomato pasta for veggies. It's boring and predicatable.

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I always admire those restaurants that will do a mini version of an adult dish instead of presuming children are aliens need processed crap to survive.

I was annoyed in a chain, when I ordered an orange juice for myself and one for DD. They brought me a fresh squeezed orange juice, and DD some juice made from concentrate. Why should she have inferior orange juice just because she's a child?

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independent restaurants seem to be better at providing the type of food that I prefer to see - smaller versions of adults meals, rather than chicken nuggets. The best example we had was when we took our daughter out for her first birthday, and the chef made a special plate for her, with all the food that she loved. Squid risotto, foie gras and spiced banana. Why should she have to settle for chips with everything just because she's a child? Now she is a bit older she loves sausage and chips, and the sausages have been mostly good quality, something which has impressed me.

Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

We have never had a bad experience when breastfeeding anywhere.

What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

It would help if restaurants asked if parents wanted somewhere that they would have privacy, e.g. a booth, or a table that was slightly screened. Also just little things, like bringing bread/munchies quickly - the hunger experienced whilst breastfeeding was like nothing I had ever been through.

grumpydwarf Mon 23-Sep-13 14:10:34

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I think that the general standard of childrens food does need to improve. Alot more children nowadays will eat more exotic choices than before and all though some children will only eat "Nugget" meals etc others should have a more exciting range of choice.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I tend to take my child to more chain restaurants than independants as I dont think the independant restaurants offer much choice for children.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Definately worse. A chain is normally better equiped to deal with a small child rather than an independant.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Never breastfed in a restaurant

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel
welcome?

Have a booth or area that would sheild mum slightly so she had some privacy.

CheeryCherry Mon 23-Sep-13 14:13:28

I think food standards for children have improved over the years, more places are doing 'small adult meals' which suits my family.
We prefer places that do smaller meals off the normal menu as my DDS are vegetarian and the usual child menu choices for veggies are cheese&tomato pizza or cheese and tomato pasta. Our local pubs tend to do a smaller plate for anyone with a lighter appetitie, which is just right, and there are plenty of vegetarian choices.
I think it varies from chain to independent place. It is good to go to the odd chain as you know what you are going to get, there is a familiarity, if not anything different. Chains often have easily accessible highchairs, suitable loos etc too. Our local pubs tend to be a more relaxed, less rowdy venues, and produce good home cooked food.
I have no breast feeding stories to tell, it was never a problem for me. I think as long as the woman is in a comfortable position to feed, she can be as subtle as she wishes. Maybe hideous bright strip lighting may not be good!

LovesBeingOnHoliday Mon 23-Sep-13 14:51:16

Mostly I find food aimed at kids to be poor, unless it part of tge normal menu.

As a bf I found no problems feeding my babies and that goes from food courts to John Lewis to pubs

DorisShutt Mon 23-Sep-13 14:52:53

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
Food standards have improved over the years - there doesn't seem to be as many "children's rooms" with sticky floors and bad service as there was when I was growing up. However, I would much prefer if more restaurants offered the option of smaller or half portions of adults meals rather than the usual chicken strips/fish fingers that seems to be the standard cop-out.

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
Our local restaurant which also incorporates a soft play facility is great as it's all home cooked, low salt and "good" food. While they do offer the standard options, they do offer anything on their menu in smaller portions - which is not only great for children, but also for grandparents with smaller appetites.

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
I think it depends on the location. One of our local resturants is brilliant, another not so much. Similarly, you can visit different branches of the same restaurant chain and have totally different experiences.
That said, independents tend to have more flexibility to adapt and change things that aren't working.

Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
Due to ill health, I wasn't able to breastfeed my son past a few weeks, but I can safely say that I've never had any bad experiences when out with friends who breastfeed.

What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
I think just being aware that mums with babies may want to breastfeed and thus seat them in an appropriate location - maybe in a more comfortable booth rather than on hard chairs for example. Also training staff not to stare!

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I would say it has improved, massively, over the last decade or so. I would be deeply disappointed in any restaurant which did not welcome (well behaved) children and cater to them within reason. In fact, my DB booked a (very nice, but not amazing) restaurant in North London and when we turned up they announced that they had a "no children after 6pm" policy. Apparently he was supposed to have mentioned when he booked that 2 of the party were under 16, even though both of them would quite happily eat from an adult menu hmm. We went to a lovely welcoming place over the road instead and neither DB nor anyone he knows and has influence over have been back to nasty unwelcoming restaurant since.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Bad example - see above. Good examples - many of them. Most of our local independents (rural W. Mids) have very reasonably priced "children's menus" consisting of small portions of simple food from good ingredients, but all will happily do half portions of anything from the menu unless it doesn't lend itself to it (individual pies and the like). They are all welcoming to children, some of the pubs have colouring sheets, crayons, etc available if you want them, but mostly they treat DC as people rather than as a nuisance.

The best children's menu ever is at the Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. It was amazing and kept DD (6) spellbound and at the table for nearly 3 hours with no complaints at all.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Neither. Some good chains (ASK, Pizza Express), some lousy chains (Cafe Rouge), lots of good independents and the odd lousy one. I think chains are in a better position to put thought into provision for children and produce things to entertain small DC (ASK ones are great, for example) but independents can cater more easily to the individual customer.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

My DC were both FF - but I have had everything from tolerance to really helpful (asking if I would like them to hold back my food until I had finished feeding them, etc)

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Not sure - I would (possible naively) assume that "Families Welcome" meant that all ages, including breastfed babies, were welcome.

themummyonthebus Mon 23-Sep-13 14:57:13

I think children's meals need to be improved globally, not just the UK. Nuggets, pasta, chips, burgers seem to be considered as universal the world over.

Independents are much better than chains generally, especially for tailoring main menu meals to little appetites. The best meal DC (2) ever had was at a Michelin starred restaurant where they had developed a children's menu that was fun and tasty and treated the child as a person that would enjoy eating an inventive meal full of interesting flavours and textures.

I've never had a bad experience of breastfeeding. The best restaurants bring some water and something to nibble on but don't fuss. I have had someone once ask me if I preferred them to wait before bringing out my meal until I finished feeding DC. I thought that was quite nice.

prakattack Mon 23-Sep-13 15:01:31

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
I think a lot of restaurants have improved recently but there are still a few too many who rely on "nugget" meals, as if that's the only thing that children will eat!

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
Restaurants tend to be about the same, whether chain or independent, but I find independent pubs much better than chains in kids menus. They're much more likely to have smaller portions of the adult menu, or more exciting options, instead of the usual nuggets/ sausages.

Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I never had any issues breastfeeding anywhere.

What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Not sure. Since I didn't have problems, I didn't feel there was anything missing to be honest.

LindySfarne Mon 23-Sep-13 15:07:13

Children's menus often seem very unadventurous and unhealthy, but I guess they've done their market research and know what customers order.

I would prefer to simply order a half portion of what's on the main menu for my child - but that's very rarely an option unless you get the choice of ordering, say, a pasta dish as a starter rather than a main.

xalyssx Mon 23-Sep-13 15:09:14

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

It definitely needs to improve.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Hmm... Wetherspoons is the best in my opinion actually, it has typical kid's stuff but it also has mini roast dinners that taste really good.
I went to a Mexican pub last week and they had a children's menu, but it was all the typical fried crap, so I got DS a vegetable and goat's cheese quesadilla off the adult's menu and he loved it... Restaurants should just serve smaller portions of adult dishes
We went to a Chinese restaurant the other day, and although they didn't have a kid's menu, they did make a simple beancurd and baby corn and rice meal for DS, so that was really good.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

It's about the same in my experience, half serve fried crap wherever you go

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I wasn't able to breastfeed

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

I don't know sorry

ShatnersBassoon Mon 23-Sep-13 15:18:02

I think children's meals have really improved in recent years, and it tends to only be the small pubs and independent cafes that are stuck in the 'something beige with chips' days. I haven't been anywhere for years that didn't offer a nutritious option for children. Even McDonalds have moved on and encourage children to have fruit or veg instead of chips.

Breastfeeding, I don't recall having a problem anywhere, and I don't think restaurants need to do anything to make it easier.

RugBugs Mon 23-Sep-13 15:37:16

I think generally it has improved but was dissapointed to be turned away from our local Thai back in April as it apparently wasn't a suitable restaurant for our DD.
We had a difficult job persuading our very good local curry house to provide a high chair too but they did relent in the end.
There is a fabulously welcoming restaurant down in Brighton, they serve not exactly small portions of their menu and always make such a fuss of DC, so of course this is always where we go when visiting family in the area.

I've bf in plenty of restaurants and pubs, I tend to choose or ask for a quiet table where I can be discrete but it doesn't always happen. ASK once put us slap bang in the middle of a full restaurant with me facing the open kitchen, I got out the emergency carton on that occasion.

crazykat Mon 23-Sep-13 15:52:23

I think the standards of children's food is okay in most restaurants. In soft play type places it definitely needs improving.

While the standard is okay, the choice isn't great - a lot of nuggets/fish fingers/sausages or spaghetti type dishes. Chains like fayre square do offer a choice of mash/jacket potato/chips and different vegetables which make it slightly better.

It would be nice if they offered scaled down versions of the adult meals though as my 6yo likes what I have and moans that she can't have the same.

The menus for older children are usually rubbish with only two or three options which is no good for those who are still hungry after a child's portion but can't eat an adult one. Again it would be good to see scaled down adult choices.

We tend to go to buffet style restaurants as the choices are better for children as they can pick and choose and there is more variety.

ouryve Mon 23-Sep-13 16:01:22

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Far to many restaurants have variedd adult menus, then barely veer from the nuggets chips and beans option for children. That option has its place [looks at DS2] but there's no reason not to offer children appropriately sized portions of some of the adult choices.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

It's so long since we ate out, but one particularly memorable experience was ordering something for me, in a pub, that was accompanied by peas, and something from the child's menu for DS1, and opting for peas with it. My peas were bright green and tasted like ordinary frozen peas (I'd expect no more) while DS1's were almost grey and appeared to be from a tin.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I've found no difference. Some chains (eg TGI Friday) are really on the ball and cater for varied child tastes, from the safe to the more adventurous. Other stick with crap and chips for children.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Not done this

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Both of my boys were far too distractable to comfortable nurse in a busy area. I might have found it easier in a setting with some quiet booths. Both of the boys still prefer sitting with their back to a wall if we do eat ou - they can't cope with people walking behind them and they're 7 and 9, now!

Spirael Mon 23-Sep-13 16:08:15

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I think it's been getting better. There are still cases where the child menu is a choice of three generic deep fried things, but in a lot of places now there's a good option for smaller portions of adult meals.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I like the child options available at my favourite indian restaurant. They offer smaller portions of curries alongside milder options for delicate palates, so more adventurous young people can get stuck in with a proper curry.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

The chains tend to be better prepared for children, with specific menus ready. However, they also struggle to deviate from their script and could sometimes do with being more flexible! There's a huge difference between what a 2 year old and a 12 year old will eat, but in some places they're both categorised as Children and given the same menu/portions.

Meanwhile the independent restaurants are sometimes a bit more haphazard, they may not have a specific child menu. But, they're more flexible and willing to make things up as they go along. Such as halving a portion size for a 2 year old and reducing the price accordingly.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've never had any problems breastfeeding in any restaurants. Special note goes to Betty's Tea Room though for always being exceptionally accomodating!

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Make sure not to seat a potentially breast feeding mother with a small baby under/opposite/facing a big wall of mirrors! Being discreet is hard enough without contending with huge amounts of reflective surfaces. A nice booth is appreciated.

Also, it wouldn't stop me from breastfeeding if there wasn't one, but having a sign outside indicating the breastfeeding is welcome makes me feel more relaxed.

Oh, and maybe having some knorks/sporks available would be useful. Trying to breastfeed and eat one handed can be a PITA if you have food to cut up. Knorks/sporks make it a bit easier!

Spirael Mon 23-Sep-13 16:11:01

Oh, one more thing! Menus for small children should include pictures of the dishes. DD (3 YO) loves choosing her own meal off the menu, but she can't read yet! With pictures of the options available, she can browse them all independently and then show us the one she wants.

MoonHare Mon 23-Sep-13 16:30:53

I think the general standard of children's food and eating experience does need to improve in restaurants in the UK. Menu choices are limited and the same old things everywhere, which wouldn't be so bad if they were done consistently well but they are not.

I have to say I've never really found independent cafes/pubs to be any better than the chains, in fact they are often worse because they are usually much more expensive for the same sort of offer and not in my experience any more flexible. Sometimes they can try too hard to appeal to parents rather simply than serving decent quality food that most children would like. A local example is a newly opened tea-room with large 'families welcome' signage. The kids menu was the usual sausages, fish fingers etc but they were 'butchers' sausages of the large, coarse and herby variety, or fish goujons not fish fingers. My children love sausages but complained they were full of bits and too spicy. Both dishes came with beans but fancy beans not Heinz-type baked beans and the ketchup was home made. Delicious if for me but not what the children were expecting and a waste of £5 per children's meal. IMO kids food doesn't need to be 'fancyfied', just good quality, well cooked and served quickly.

A good chain place locally is Pizza Express. The choice is good, service is usually quick but they only have 4 high chairs, we've been forced to go elsewhere before because there were no high chairs available.

Our local Frankie and Benny's has a good well priced children's menu and great children's packs to keep them amused, they could get it so right HOWEVER the food is usually horribly overcooked and inedible and the service SOOOOO slow that the children are passed themselves by the time it arrives, generally after the adults have been served. I think I have finally learned my lesson and won't be eating there again.

I like places that offer smaller sized portions of dishes off their usual menu, that way the children can eat food much closer to that we have at home and so we know they will eat - my children are not experimental eaters. In my experience it tends to be independent restaurants that cater best for children (where they are actually welcome though, lots of places don't have high chairs, which tends to mean children are not welcome there).

I wish food outlets would charge more flexibly. With a 5 year old and a 2 year old we are paying for the appetite of 10 year olds when ordering children's dishes. It would be great if more places offered a small child's portion. We often order one children's meal and an extra plate then split the food between them. This is fine when the staff remember to bring both food and spare plate at the same time, often they don't or the spare plate is forgotten and has to be asked for again.

I have breastfed my children all over the place and never had any problems. However I often would have appreciated a more comfy seat or quieter table, especially with older babies as mine have always been so easily distracted that they don't feed well if there's lots going on around them. But there's not a lot eateries can do about that.

My main suggestions to improve the experience of eating out for children are;
Give plenty of choice over the side orders instead of just peas or beans with everything
Keep portion sizes appropriate for the ages of the children and price accordingly
Bring the children's food out first!!!!
Speed up the service
Always offer crayons and paper
Have plenty of high chairs, the sort with a solid post between the legs so that smaller babies can use the chairs comfortably

Magicjellyflood Mon 23-Sep-13 16:34:46

Not much to say, it's a bloody nightmare grinwink

Chain places often seem to be better in terms of having high chairs, changing facilities etc, but we have had great experiences in both. Our local independent Italian restaurant offers a very basic children's menu - carbonara, bolognaise or a pizza with 3 toppings, followed by ice cream - but it is cheap and both boys like it. Doesn't come with any veg/salad though, which is a shame. Recently we had a good experience at Jamie's Italian, where they automatically bring crayons and little slide viewers to play with. Don't know if the novelty would wear off after a while though. We also like various independent cafés who will bring you half-portions of anything on the menu.

The boys like places that do children's lunch boxes, but they vary in my experience. Sometimes there is very little left to choose between, and often you end up with crisps AND chocolate AND sweets. A lot of the time, these lunch boxes only come with cartons of juice as well, which DS2 won't drink, so we end up having to order him milk or water seperately.

One of the nicest meals we had out with children was a Turkish restaurant in London. We asked if DS2 could have milk to drink and they ended up sending someone out specially to buy him some!

tinypumpkin Mon 23-Sep-13 16:58:42

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
Yes, too many options with chips only! Also, really poor options for children who are veggie.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
As above, too many chip options. I truly don't mind chips (yum) but some variety of options would be better. Half portions of adult meals would be good to offer also.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
Generally better and more flexible in their options.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
Never had a bad experience at all nor a particularly great experience.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
I am not sure what could be offered as separate feeding rooms just makes more of an issue for me. Perhaps some more comfy seats would be good/

Wallison Mon 23-Sep-13 17:07:01

<<Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?>>

I agree that it generally needs to improve - far too many things like fish fingers and chips. Even in places where they offer things that are similar to the adult menu, the food seems to be very bland in comparison - you know, little garlic, not much in the way of herbs etc. I know they can't put salt on it, but a little inventiveness with flavour goes a long way. I dislike the way that food is so often divided into 'kids' and 'adults' - food is food.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

The best ones are where you get exactly the same as the adult choices, but a smaller sized portion. When I cook at home, I serve the same for kids as I do for adults and really it should be the same in a restaurant. Another good type of restaurant would I guess be the South Indian one near where I live where you can order lots of little side dishes so there is plenty of variety even if the kids have smaller appetites than the adults - you don't even need to get a main, if you don't want to. Great for introducing new flavours.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

It totally depends on the staff. My son had severe allergies when he was younger and some places were good and some were bad, but didn't spot a pattern whereby chains=good or independents = good; it was just if you get a staff member who is on the ball.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

BHS staff were always lovely when I went in there - would carry my tray for me, give me glasses of water etc. That might just have been the branch though.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

I think just making the practicalities easier to handle - like I said above, I always appreciated it if they could spare someone to carry my tray, and glasses of water were likewise very welcome (it's thirsty work!) But other than that, just to let us get on with it.

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I think the general standard is fine! I've never had a bad experience eating out with my ds. smile

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

We went in a pub eatery type place where the kids menu looked really promising, I even convinced DS to have some raw carrot sticks with his meal, however when the food came to the table his carrot sticks were grotty - a mixture of dry and manky. Not a great help! DS is funny about food and it completely put him off his meal.That particular place didn't seem to try as hard with the kids food. I doubt they would have served those carrot sticks to an adult!!

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I've found small independant restaurants and cafes are better at catering for what me and DS need. The experience tends to be more personable and friendly than in a chain where it seems to be a one size will fit all philosophy.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Nope. I didn't breastfeed so not applicable.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

I would think perhaps an area where prams can be parked so they aren't blocking tables or walkways, supportive members of staff, and good baby changing facilities would encourage new mums in, breast feeding or not.

rootypig Mon 23-Sep-13 18:05:12

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes - both the food, and the welcome. Britain compares badly to so many countries - Italy, Spain, Ireland, Canada and the US, among others - for making children and families welcome in restaurants. And the food options for children are usually boring if not inadequate.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Many chains - Carluccios, Pizza Express, Giraffe come to mind - pride themselves on being child / family friendly and having children's menus. But their children's food is incredibly salty, barely modified versions of the adult menu. Because of the salt, I wouldn't feed it to an under 3. My daughter is 11 months and I bring her own food with me, wherever we go. Which is a shame, because she eats pretty much what we eat at home.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independent are better, I would say. They tend to be better in all regards anyway - fresher food, more individual menus.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I always breastfed wherever I was, and never experienced any problems.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Prominent signs saying breastfeeding welcome - on the door? Staff intervening to support BFing mothers when other customers object.

Skoggy Mon 23-Sep-13 18:09:18

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I think that there is much room for improvement. Too many places still only sell "this with chips" "that with mash" and the good old spag bol. On a personal note, DD1 (2yo) eats exactly as we eat. Curries, chilli, Scandinavian food, it doesn't matter. She isn't keen on most of the kids meals they serve in restaurants etc. She will eat sausages, but is a bit of a snob and will only eat "proper" sausages and not ones full of processed meat.

There needs to be a move towards offering children better meals. It doesn't matter that baked beans are counted as part of your 5 a day, serving them with chips and processed meats kind of cancels them out. I'd like to see more offerings along the lines of "meat and 2 veg" but proper meat and fresh veggies. There shouldn't be an increase in prices to offer better food.

I've been known to walk around my city centre looking for somewhere to take my kids for lunch until way past their lunch time, just looking for somewhere they can get something half decent. For goodness sake, a salad filled sub from Subway is better than fried food and chips. I've resorted to taking food for them and sitting on a park bench somewhere.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I have been surprised to see that some of my local cafes don't even offer kids meals. In asking, if they have a kids menu, I've been told "this" and "this" from the main menu is suitable for kids. Yes, it may be suitable for kids but when it is served in adult portions, it a massive waste of money. Asking for a plain cheese sandwich for DD1 resulted in being brought a massive sandwich made of thick bloomer slices... 4 of them! When asked if it was possible for only 1 of the sandwiches, I was told they could take one away but I would still have to pay for the whole portion!

It is so hard to think of any good example I'm afraid. There isn't much choice even in my huge student filled city.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think is much of a muchness really. Its sad.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Unable to answer as medical reason mean I can't bf.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Probably better privacy but, once again, unable to answer.

WowOoo Mon 23-Sep-13 18:21:44

I agree. There are far too many places that have an OK menu for adults, but the children's menu is the same boring stuff again and again - fish and chips, sausages and so on.
Smaller portions for half the price would be great.

One of our local restaurants gives smaller portions from the adult menu. The staff also warn you if something is likely to be very spicy or rich. They are fantastic.
Water comes straight away with a straw so they tend not to ask for expensive alternatives. But they do tempt the children with a wide selection of veg, side dishes and desserts!

Independent restaurants are far better. See above. They are always busy because they welcome children and respect their choices.

Breastfeeding experiences: Just good ones mostly. I used to ask for a more private table in the corner and most places understood and tried to accommodate.
Staff were never a problem when I was breastfeeding, it was other customers that annoyed me!

I quite like going out for dinner with our toddler DD. she is now old enough that I can share a meal with her as even she is not interested in the usual pizza/chicken nuggets offerings on kids menus.

What does annoy me though is when the toilets aren't big enough for you to get in with a child. Surely it can't be that hard to factor in enough space for people to around in.

Chains do tend to be a bit better at being 'child friendly' but they're not necessarily nice places to go for a meal.

Not everywhere can or will want to be child friendly. I understand that entirely but I wish that the child friendly ones would just be a bit nicer and I wouldn't dislike them as much!

BornToFolk Mon 23-Sep-13 18:36:48

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Agree. Children's menus are still mostly fried stuff and chips.

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Unfortunately I live in a town with very few independent restaurants or pubs. There are a few decent independent cafes though and although they don't specifically "children's" food, they do smaller portions,

* In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?*

Better. I'm getting really fed up with chain restaurants as the vegetarian options are usually so rubbish. Pasta with tomato sauce or cheese and tomato pizza are usually the only options. Las Iguanas is our favourite as it actually has interesting food for veggie children! Quite often recently, I've ended up being something from the adult menu for DS. He's only 5 and can't finish an adult portion but at least he gets something a bit nicer than tomato pasta to eat!

GlitzPig Mon 23-Sep-13 19:01:32

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Absolutely-still generally processed crap and chips, or tomato pasta in Italian places.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Our favourite independent place does a half size of any dish on the menu, which is great! Another does a tasting plate, with a bit of everything-perfect for children who like a bit of everything.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Ok, as there is generally a vegetarian option, but boring-DS would love things other than tomato pasta, or cheese and tomato pasta for a lunch out!

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I only ever breastfed in the parents room at John Lewis or similar places-DS was very easily distracted, so somewhere quiet, without music playing and people having fun, was ideal for us. I also hated getting my breasts out in public.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

I don't think it's fair or realistic to ask for a quiet place for me to feed in a restaurant if I have another baby, so would be happy just knowing that no-one was going to tell me off-maybe offer a glass of tap water if they notice someone feeding?

littlemonkeychops Mon 23-Sep-13 19:03:42

Yes there needs to be a big improvement, we've had more bad experiences than good i'd say. Lots of places are ok in terms of the dining experienc, ie offering highchairs and a children's menu, or colouring materials etc. But we've found lots of menus are still very fish fingers/chicken nuggets chips and beans, which DD will pick at but nof eat. Pasta is getting pretty common to be fair which she will eat.

Best experiences, one chain restaurant had a childrens' menu with a seperate toddlers' menu of smaller portions and more finger friendly food. That was good as it can be annoying paying £5 for a meal for DD only to have her turn her nose up at it!

In general we've found independent better - our local museum cafe does cheese on toast for toddlers (propper cheddar on wholemeal bread), or a toddler platter of finger foods (cheese, crackers, ham, grapes, breadsticks etc).

i've never had a bad experience breastfeeding and would make a big scene if i did! Our local m&s cafe has always been very welcoming.

Wallison Mon 23-Sep-13 19:14:42

mrscumberbatch, I agree that most so-called 'child friendly' places make my teeth itch. Sure, they might provide colouring and crayons but the food is usually fucking rank, both for adults and children - bland, beige and overpriced. Yes, Frankie and bloody Benny, I'm looking at you. One of our favourite places to go for Sunday lunch is a cocktail bar so not obviously marketed towards children but actually the staff are all very accommodating and my son loves the fact that he has a choice of six different gravies and gets proper food that is properly tasty. When he was littler I just used to take crayons and a small notepad for him to amuse himself with until the (gorgeous) food came - as far as I can see, that's the only attraction with most 'child friendly' places anyway. Also, when he still had them they were shit-hot on paying attention to his allergies, which is something that both chains and independents fell down on, even when I rang in advance to warn them that he really couldn't eat certain food.

Plus, us grown-ups get to drink Margaritas. Win-win.

missorinoco Mon 23-Sep-13 19:26:33

I haven't had a problem breastfeeding in cafes or restaurants. I probably ate out more when DC1 was tiny then I do now.

I do recall though that when we went to Italy and went out for food the staff were so visibly pleased to see a baby we felt relaxed at eating.

I think the standard is variable. One local cafe here does an excellent children eat free with an adult during the week, which is great. The food is of equal quality. I went to a local pub, part of a chain, and the childrens meals were so huge they would have phased me. My four year old barely made an indent.

We often attend the Italian restaurants that are child friendly. Food is fine, but the standard and child friendliness has me going back. In one the waitress arrived with colouring pencils as she saw DC getting bored, and the manageress kindly moved furniture to help me get the double buggy out after DH kindly backed it into a corner. These details will bring me back at least as much as the food.

StrangeGlue Mon 23-Sep-13 19:29:32

I think children's food in restaurants has improved. Many of the big chains now go beyond fish fingers and chips. My favourite are always ones that do little portions of the adults meal.

The issue with littlies is always the time it takes to get served and then for the food to appear. This tends to actually be worse in independents including those aimed directly at kids. Dunno why, maybe smaller kitchens but you can be waiting a very long time in some places.

I ff so can't comment on breast feeding.

nextphase Mon 23-Sep-13 19:36:47

No problems breast feeding kids when out and about.

My best kids menu? Kids size adult portions. Local independent here will do half size adult, or chicken gougons n chips. Ds1 (4) tucked into octopus - never had it before, his choice, and he adored it - and saty noodles, DS2 (2) had duck rolls and ???

We often order 3 adult dishes, ask for an extra plate, and mix things up from all dishes.

NeatFreak Mon 23-Sep-13 19:38:46

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Agree entirely!
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Most of my experiences involve the children being welcome and enjoying it but mo examples of amazing food options for them

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independents are more flexible and able to leave things off dishes, essential for picky ds

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've never had any reactions, either positive or negative

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome

Comfy seats and offering refills/ water etc. one cafe I use regularly has fixed seats and I really struggle to feed dd in them as we are too close to the table. I end up sitting sideways with my feet up, not ideal!

Happiestinwellybobs Mon 23-Sep-13 19:42:01

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I do agree; I find that children's menus tend to be nuggets, fish fingers, etc. We don't seem to embrace children in a lot of places.

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I don't like the same old - chicken nuggets, fish finders, pizza etc menu that is often found in a lot of places. Our local Italian does child portions of a lot of the pasta options which is great. We have a local independent restaurant that appears to offer the standard fare, but actually their fish fingers are proper goujons, their nuggets are proper chicken breast. I am happier for my daughter to eat there.

Independent restaurants seem much better in my opinion. The chains offer cheap food which is lacklustre.

Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

N/A

What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Plenty of high chairs, booster seats, crayons, waitresses that don't scowl if food is dropped on the floor (I will always clean up after we've finished), toilet facilities with mini seats, a good range of healthy options.

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
Agree

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
One of the main problems I have with kids' menus is the portion size. We went to a lovely independent Italian for a big family meal and the kids all chose pizzas from the kids' menu. Honestly they would have been too big for me. They weren't any smaller than an adult one confused

I find most places offer a kids' menu for Under 12's but there's a big difference in what an 11 year old will eat and a 4 year old. I would like to see more menus with size options (e.g. Small - roughly aimed at Under 4's, Medium - under 8's, Large - Under 12's) so parents could choose a meal that suits their child's appetite. It's really annoying having to pay £3.95 (usual price where we go) for a child's meal when she only manages to eat a tiny bit of it. We often buy one and share it between both dc.

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
I don't think there's a huge difference. Even within a chain you get different experiences at different branches. I think it is perhaps easier to choose a chain that welcomes children because it tends to be more obvious in their menus and advertising whether they want to attract families.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Mon 23-Sep-13 20:01:21

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
I agree that it needs to improve. There are a lot of restaurants where all of the children's choices are something and chips and the menu bears little or no resemblance to the adult menu. As children get older I think it's even more important that they should be offered smaller portions of the main menu.
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
I don't like children's menus where there isn't a single healthier choice - everything is fried with chips.
A good example - a local cafe has a children's menu where children select 6 different things from the menu eg cheese, tomatoes, grapes, hummus, olives, sausages, homemade beans, salsa, carrot, pepper & cucumber batons etc to be served with fresh bread. This creates a plate that is in keeping with the cafe main menu. they can also have a half portion of anything from the menu.
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
In my experience, local independent restaurants are worse than the chains, but a lot of that is area dependent. I've found that in some areas the independent places are much better. I think the bad restaurants just opt for the lazy everything fried plus chips options.
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
I haven't had any bad experiences breastfeeding in restaurants.
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Not really for breastfeeding, but in general - an area for storing buggies away from the table and decent changing facilities.
I don't think they need to do anything specifically for breastfeeding. Maybe just prepare waiting staff so they have some idea what to do when they take food out and suddenly find that a mother is feeding her baby eg "would you like me to keep this warm or are you ready to eat?"

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Mon 23-Sep-13 20:03:43

Forgot to say - when I ask if the child's meal can be made in advance and allowed to cool for 10 minutes before being brought to the table, why is that such a problem? My child can't be that unusual in being unable to eat piping hot food and not being happy to sit looking at her meal for ages before its cool enough to eat.

Iwaswatchingthat Mon 23-Sep-13 20:19:16

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK? I think the food for children in UK restaurants and pubs is pretty standard. You can more or less guarantee it will be pasta and sauce, sausages, chicken nuggets and a burger. All served with chips and peas/beans. They seem to lack imagination. But to be fair my children eat out so rarely they are usually happy with what is on offer.
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them? We have a local independent restaurant which offers children's meals which are the same as the adult choices, but just a smaller portion. Also a local cafe within a play centre which does a lovely child's Sunday lunch at a reasonable price.
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why? I think independent restaurants are better as they seem to more flexible about what you can have. E.g. Choose from adult menu with a smaller portion. Chains and larger pubs seem to be stuck in the 'kids' menu' rut with the usual choices mentioned above. Also local restaurants seem to have more seasonal menus and often have specials. We have an excellent local vegetarian restaurant which does a fab hummus platter for the children with breads and veg of their choice. We are not vegetarian, but they enjoy this meal very much.
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? I always had positive experiences of breast feeding in restaurants. I always fed at the table and was always treated really well by staff and other customers.
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome? Perhaps be more explicit about breast feeding being welcome in their restaurants - a standard sign or something? Also have a lovely room with a chair for mothers who are more shy about feeding at the table. This room must be separate from a changing room or a toilet though. Nothing worse than feeding next to a stinky nappy bin or sat on a loo lid.

The standard of children's food in restaurants/pubs is generally dire. It's always some reconstituted meat/fish with bens and chips. Pasta is bland and no care or thought. Chains are the worst. Some Indy venues give better choice and fresh foods.

I never had issues bf in public and did so frequently. One lovely Indy cafe even state open for an extra 15 mins so my son could finish a feed. They were brilliant.

One way venues could improve is if seeing a mother on her own bf or with a small child, to offer table service or carry food /drink over. Whenever people go the extra mile like that it makes me feel very valued as a customer.

DoctorGilbertson Mon 23-Sep-13 20:47:35

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

It really depends on the day. On the rare occasion where my children are beautifully behaved I do not mind at all waiting for food. At all other times quick service is paramount.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

The local swimming pool is usually the height of our eating out experience and I have to say that it is reasonable. Jacket potatoes, pasta or sandwiches, and not too expensive. I like that the kids can run around while waiting for their food (see above)

Oh and the local soft play, which is a bit more expensive but nicer food. Same pasta/sandwich/potato type options though. Oh and a nice toast/humous/vegetable sticks thing for kids. but slow service (see above)

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Chains are good when they are quick (see above). Does buying a coffee for me and fruit for the kids from a drive through count? probably not but we do this occasionally too.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Not for a few years but I never had any problems previously.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Not sure, I was a "just breastfeed anywhere" type so never really noticed it.

SaltySeaBird Mon 23-Sep-13 21:12:57

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I've had very mixed experiences. At some, the standard has been fantastic. At others less so. My DD is still very young.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

A local cafe has a fantastic kids menu and are really happy to be flexible. Children's food is beautifully presented there, for example strawberry jam on toast is cut into triangles, arranged on cute plastic plates with a huge strawberry in the middle. It's only £1! They have a really wide range of simple and healthy options.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

It varies, but the ones who have it right are fantastic. Equally some have very limited options, like chicken nuggets and chips. I don't think they are consistently better or worse.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've breastfed everywhere, but very discreetly. I've never had a bad or especially positive experience. I've generally been ignored which I was fine with.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Hard one for me to answer but a discreet corner with a comfy chair is always welcome.

sharond101 Mon 23-Sep-13 21:43:57

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
yes less processed food for children and less chips. More smaller portions of adult meals.
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them? I find our local soft play centres are awful for kids foods. They are all chips and something with no or very little vegetables. We go to Harvester often and there menu is not too bad and offers some more appealing veg.
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why? I have no real experience of this and when we went to an independent establishment they did not have a childrens menu!
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? I had to give my baby expressed milk in a bottle so no experience here.
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome? More concealed areas for nursing mums.

manfalou Mon 23-Sep-13 22:11:31

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I think it depends, there is always a 'better' option on the menu than the usual nuggets etc and I tend to think of a trip to a restaurant as a treat so don't mind what the kiddies have when we're out. I always have the not so good stuff when I'm out so I don't expect them to eat something super healthy. DS usually has yorkshire sausage and mash when we go out, we havnt really had a bad experience yet.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Our very local pub has amazing food all round and the kids menu is no exception. Again its not the 'healthy' type but they make amazing cheese and tomato pastries and home made pies in kids sizes.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Around here, the local restaurants are much better than the chains but we often go to our local Brewers fair pub because their food is decent quality and they've always been good at catering for our DS who doesn't like any sauce etc on his dinner but always wants it at the side... they're used to bringing out his gravy in a mini boat now =) Our local independent pub will cook a meal from scratch which is not on the menu should you ask them too (as long as they have ingredients).

Hopezibah Mon 23-Sep-13 22:12:32

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Definitely needs to improve. I find it so annoying that even in restaurants with fabulous quality meals for adults, they serve much lower quality meat / sausages / menus for kids.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

A local pub that does wonderful meals simply does half size portions of the standard menu for kids and that is perfect. A good healthy high quality meal at the right size and price for kids! I wish everywhere would do that rather than try to appeal to kids with the same old menus of sausage and mash (usually poor quality sausage!!!) or nuggets and beans etc.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think the food can be better because they are less likely to have a poor quality kids menu so kids can eat from the adult menu but less equipped in terms of entertainment. So we usually keep a pack of cards or a few toys in my bag for the kids.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've always breastfed regardless of whether it is 'approved of'. The only place I was reluctant to breastfeed with my first baby was macdonalds because I had heard a rumour that they didn't allow it so I never dared. Since then though I have breastfed and not had a problem.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
A simple logo on the corner of the menu or a window sticker to say breastfeeding welcome could help us feel at ease knowing it is not frowned upon there.

MrsCocoa Mon 23-Sep-13 22:25:32

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Think it's getting better. Round here there are more places with healthy, (child) enticing and well priced options than ten years ago. And we're made to feel welcome, rather than tolerated, more often too (but maybe that's down to a less buoyant economy...?).

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Yes we do. I like a good choice of main course options, which offer a child friendly sub-set of the restaurant's fare, and not all with chips! We also like good value all-in options which include a drink and pudding (scoop of ice cream etc). Makes it less financially stressful if I can see what I'm going to pay without having to budget for lots of adult sized/priced extras and the lure of pudding keeps them at the table. Have had some fab experiences with great waiting staff too. Appreciate people taking care with temperatures of drinks, thinking to bring appropriate cutlery and being understanding if accidents do occur.

A fave café does lots of cheap and cheerful 'on toast' options for kids. Again, can nip in and have a quick and relatively wholesome bite without spending a fortune.

Pet hates include only selling juice in huge posh bottles.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independents around here generally do better food/more interesting menu choices and are really friendly (and are usually happy to let us order off piste if necessary).

That said our kids always like Giraffe and Pizza Express (but not such good value overall and a bit samey).

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

No.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Have a really big sign up welcoming breastfeeding - leaves no room for doubt what sort of reaction you'll get from the establishment and deters other customers from being stupid.

givemeaboost Mon 23-Sep-13 22:32:19

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I agree the standards children's food in restaurants need to be improved

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

at wookey hole- children's meal consisted of chips/beans/nuggets/sausages, was approx £6, adults choices included quiche+salad- but at nearer £10+ when asked for a childs portion of quiche and salad was told they could only eat of the kids menu, a smaller adult portion could not be served.
Local pub round here does a make a wrap plate, comes out with tortillas, things to put in it inlc salad, beans, cheese plus wedge's and dips, kids get a massive plateful and they feel really grown up making it themselves

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

ime usually worse, the chains are more used to catering for small children (ie more parents go to chains as usually more affordable)

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I had dagger looks from a bloke in weatherspoons once, I just tutted and moved the menu so I didn't have to see him!

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

have more booth type seating as well as comfy chairs, and plenty of cushions!, would feel abit more private for mums who are a bit embarrassed/new to bf. thinking about where to bf when out would break me out in a cold sweat if im honest, I tended to find a few good spots and keep returning to them.
Im pretty sure breastfeeding organisations do some kind of door sticker to display it is a breastfeeding friendly restaurant, if not Im sure there are sites such as ebay where you can have one made up

Howstricks Mon 23-Sep-13 22:41:33

Ok..questions in order.
Yes, it needs to improve. I am a massive foodie (excuse the pun) and am always overjoyed when I see a restaurant that feeds children the same way i do. That said it is rare and both the food and environment need to change.

Good examples..a local indian that made our 3yo a mild creamy curry, a restaurant in ipswich which serves organic salmon, cheesy mash and crunchy veg for under a fiver, a french bistro that was happy to remove the unwanted ingredients (nothing like food on the plate you don't like to offend a 6 year old!!). Not many bad examples from independent chains, obviously those that will not deviate from a highly faffed around with and large portion menu, but I'm never a returning customer at those!
Chain restaurants have the bits on the side sorted..colouring, play areas, cutlery..but usually at the expense of the food..if i want chips and over loud entertainment thats great..if i want good good its usually independent and take my own child amusement.
The only bad B/F experience was at an independent cafe in Frinton where they pretended I wasn't there!! Wouldn't even serve me. Everywhere else has been positive though i've always been discreet.
If everyone could get over the awkwardness it would be fine. B/f mothers have no need to bare their breasts amazonian style and restaurants have no need to try and wish an invisibility forcefield on them. An automatic glass of water would be nice!
Out of interest, if families ate out together more, taught their children basic manners and were prepared to talk to and entertain each other ..and if restaurants welcomed even the little ones with open arms and provided them with good plain food and a smile maybe it would all get better?

aristocat Mon 23-Sep-13 22:42:50

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Agree, most childrens food is still nugget/chips sadly. Things are improving slowly.
However there is a big difference in what my 11yo DS will eat compared to a toddler, and childrens menus do not reflect this. Could there not be half portions of every meal on the menu available (why would this be so difficult?)

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
A local pub does small meals which are perfect for children. They can have the option of choosing from a wider range of food.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
Chains have menus, crayons, colouring sheets ready to hand usually however the last thing my 11yo DS wants to do is colour! I don't believe that either are better/worse than each other.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
N/A

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
A huge sign to ensure that there is no doubt about breastfeeding being welcomed here.

minidipper Mon 23-Sep-13 22:43:49

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

It needs to be improved. There tends to be either a bog standard rubbish choice of nuggets and fries/ spaghetti in tomato sauce or the food goes in the opposite direction and tries to show how inspired it is for children, then laces the meat with strange sauces and the veg with herb butters. Restaurants need to learn to make simple unadorned but healthy food for children with adventurous stuff on the side - sauces to dip not drenched over the veg etc.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
To be honest, we so rarely went to independent restaurants when the boys were small. One exception was the local Chinese which is better than most places in china town. The food is really fresh and simple and the owners have pre-school kids who are always up at table eating when we go there (early evening.) So they know how to create good food for children. The DC love crispy duck pancakes and satay chicken (sauce on the side)

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
Independent restaurants are certainly better at catering for adult needs. Much as I love Pizza Express for being so genuinely welcoming to children, I did get mighty tired of it by the time they were 8 or 9.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
Can't remember doing it in restaurants but used to meet with a bunch of mums at a local pub that did morning coffees and we'd all feed in there. I think the manager loathed it, he was always very rude to us and over charged us but never dared say anything as we were the only people in there.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Ignore them. Treat them identically to the way they treat bottle feeding mums. And tell customers who object that babies eating is normal.

beanandspud Mon 23-Sep-13 23:20:40

I think it's a shame that, even pretty good, restaurants tend to go down the nuggets/fish fingers/burger/pizza/pasta with tomato sauce route on their children's menus. DS is quite adventurous in what he eats but given a menu with pizza on it he would go for the pizza every time. There's definitely room for improvement.

Our local Indian restaurant is fantastic. The children are treated well, they get poppadums on arrival so that they have something to nibble and they do a 1/2 portion of anything on the menu. For a chain, Holiday Inn are also good with a variety of food on their room service menu in different portion sizes.

We tend to be 50:50 between chains and independents and it's generally based on local experience. Pizza Express, La Tasca and Yo Sushi are all pretty good where we live but equally, the local hotel (that doesn't have a children's menu at all) is great.

I never experienced any problems bf in restaurants so can't really comment. Saying that I used to feed DS first so that he'd sleep and let DH and I enjoy a meal in peace!

Dylanlovesbaez Tue 24-Sep-13 07:37:27

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I do find that children's menus seem to be a bit crap, chicken nuggets and chips, cheap sausages and chips, anything and chips! Maybe I'm just going to the wrong places!

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Bills in brighton is always a good experience with dd, they are always friendly and accomodying and the food is yum.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think they are, maybe it's because one bad review of an independent restaurant makes more difference than one bad review of a chain restaurant.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

All my breastfeeding experiences have been fine, not negative, not positive.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Have breastfeeding welcome window stickers.

Bonkerz Tue 24-Sep-13 08:22:22

Eating out for my family can be a nightmare! My youngest ds has cows milk protein intolerance. This makes it virtually impossible to eat at small independent restaurants and cafes as they are not required by law to provide allergy lists etc. large chains are ok but we generally find we end up ordering plain chicken breast and a jacket potatoe for ds. The kids range on the menu tends to be chips chips and chips. My eldest now orders from the adult section. My children love their vegetables but from a kids menu are generally offered just peas or beans as a choice!

ProfYaffle Tue 24-Sep-13 09:11:32

Generally speaking I don't struggle to find good food for the dc when we're out. I'm lucky to live in a town with lots of small, independent places both them and the chains all cater well for children. Lots of chains now do decent roast dinner/pasta/meatballs type options so we don't really need to resort to nuggets and chips - although the dc have other ideas!

I suppose the only point I'd make is that dc of different ages have different needs/portion size. One cafe we used to go to a lot is brilliant with food for toddlers but doesn't cater for older dc at all. The options are basically toast fingers and carrot sticks or an adult dish, nothing in between.

imho, to cater well for children or bfing mothers the key is the attitude of the staff rather than special menus or facilities. It's little things like our chinese restaurant bringing out cutlery for the dc rather than chopsticks, avoiding drinks in tall cups that they knock over easily, happily leaving the beansprouts out of the plain noodle dish etc.

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I don't think it's too bad, lots of choice where I live but we don't go to MacDonalds etc.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

DD loves the kids menu in Wagamama.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Definitely independent restaurants where they are usually happy to tailor the meal to the child's requirements whereas chains are more confined to a fixed menu.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Breastfed two children for 3 years, never been noted or commented on either way.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Chairs with backs would be fab, stools and benches (I'm looking at you Wagamama) are a nightmare. The lady who once brought me a glass of water unasked for was very sweet.

DifferentNow Tue 24-Sep-13 09:34:50

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Agree. Chicken nuggets and chips everywhere you look.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I can't think of a single restaurant where the kids menu has stuck out as being good/better/different. I think generally you are better off choosing a smaller adult portion when eating out with kids because the kids choices are generally pretty grim - chicken nuggets, fish fingers, beans, chips, microwaved pasta etc.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independent restaurants are more like the way we eat together at home. There are no bog-standard meal deal type things which incentivise you to buy Fruit Shoots and pudding so I prefer independents.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've never experienced any negative reactions when breastfeeding in restaurants.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Well I would hate to be ushered into an 'area' to breastfeed. I suppose ideally you just want no reaction at all to breastfeeding. It's none of anyone else's business and so no one should be commenting on it wherever I choose to do it.

ScienceRocks Tue 24-Sep-13 09:39:33

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes, but I think it is heading the right way. A few years ago, it was literally just sausage and chips, now restaurant owners seem to be waking up to the fact that parents will spend money if they do something suitable for their kids!

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

A local independent gourmet burger restaurant is trying quite hard to get its children's menu right, ditto a local café. It's not quite there yet but they are listening and modifying, and it is getting closer to what families want.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think, as with many things, there are some independents that do it really well, with friendly staff, children's activities and a varied and interesting menu and sensible portion sizes (and prices). However, some don't seem to get it at all. Whereas you know what you are getting with the chains. Pizza Express is a example of a chain responding to its market by overhauling the children's menu to include dietary restrictions and just be a bit more flexible. Wagamamas is also good.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

No.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

I am not an expert in this area, so wouldn't like to say.

ShadeofViolet Tue 24-Sep-13 09:41:13

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
I think it depends where you go. We like Pizza Express and Bella Italia and find these both quite welcoming for young children, if a bit pricey. DD would say her favourite place is Harvester.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them? We have a local small pub which does very nice meals for children, not just the sausage and chips option you get at many chains. I think it helps that its in a 'nice' area? We also have a very nice cafe near s called Copper, which DD and I like to go to for croissants and jam as a treat. There isn't a childrens menu there as such, but I dont think it needs it. Sometimes children would just like smaller portions of what adults have.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why? I think Independent ones are more likely to be adventurous with menu choices, but also more flexible too.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? Never had a problem and have BF for 3 years overall (3 children)

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome? I don't think they need to.

dahville Tue 24-Sep-13 10:26:27

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes, beyond fried meat & chips!

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Not really any highlights, I find the independents rely on fish and chips/chicken nuggets & chips just as much as the chains.

My preference is for Italian restaurants as the meals seem a bit healthier than fried/fried/fried.

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

No different in my experienc.

Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I haven't done it much as I generally have a bottle of expressed milk with me. The times I have done it I have found the seats very uncomfortable.

What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Well cushioned seats! Wider seats with arms. A comfortable screened area as I prefer not to be feeding at a table laden with food and drink and cutlery.

skyeskyeskye Tue 24-Sep-13 10:50:06

* Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?*

Some restaurants have got it right. It is nice to see other things on the menu, such as a choice of veg, and pasta, lasagne, mini roast dinners etc. Not every child wants to eat chicken nuggets and chips.

There will always be some restaurants that don't cater for children and that should remain, as some adults do go out to have a childfree meal in peace.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I don't like places that don't serve pasta, or spaghetti. We have a local Marsdens pub, that serves a good choice of childrens meals and also allow them to have adult meals. Table Table also offer a good choice for children. Local places round here, pubs etc, do a very good option, small roast dinners, pasta with fresh tomato sauce, handmade pizzas. I think we are quite lucky there.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independent chains are better setup for it, but the food is not as nice or as fresh

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? N/A

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome? If there is enough space, they could provide a comfortable room to sit in, away from the public eating area, where they can be served drinks while they breastfeed. I never breastfed in public because I didn't want to, so a room like that would have been great

GingerBeerAndTinnedPeaches Tue 24-Sep-13 13:06:24

I have never understood separate children's menus of fish finger/burger/nuggets with chips. At the very least there should be a selection of smaller servings of the adult meals - more and more children eat the same as their parents so this should be taken into consideration.

I was very impressed with the children's men in a pub (sorry, can't recall the name) in the Lakes which had the usual nuggets and chips choices but also half portions of a good variety of the main menu including that day's specials.

Chains are more child friendly wrt facilities but the food is rarely if ever as good as a lot of independent restaurants.

I didn't breastfeed but a quiet corner to be set aside to feed babies (ff or bf) without distraction and offering privacy if required would be a nice idea, though obviously not always practical for a restaurant.

serendipity1980 Tue 24-Sep-13 13:19:19

I think that the children's menus in restaurants are a lot better these days, they tend to have a simpler version of the adults menu. This is far better than the chicken nuggets and chips option. Both independant and chain places are generally good.
My children are fussy, and their favourite food is fish and chips!
I had no problems when I breastfed both our DCs, I was always discrete and had any negative comments.

hasitfallendownagain Tue 24-Sep-13 13:29:42

I have had good and bad experiences at chains and at independent places, can't say that one is better than the other.

I've been to some lovely independent places which were really child friendly, had plenty of menu options, and provided toys to play with, or colouring sheets etc.

I've been to places that didn't have children's menus at all, but where they went out of their way to make up a plate of food DC would like.

And I've also been to places where the children's menu sounded great, but turned out to be cheap, frozen rubbish (cafe rouge, I am looking at you)

I've never had a bad breastfeeding experience, but I've had plenty of good ones, where the staff have just smiled at me and acted like it is completely normal. Some have offered me different cutlery, so I could eat with one hand, once I was brought a complimentary coffee - that was in a Starbucks, who don't have the greatest corporate reputation.
Goes to show that, chain or independent, much of whether the experience is good or bad is down to the individual manager and staff. I suppose those in independent places have more autonomy to be flexible and helpful if they want to.

Tyranasaurus Tue 24-Sep-13 14:40:58

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I would certainly eat out more with children if it were

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Hate the assumption that kids can only eat boring junk food. We're a vegetarian family and often there isn't a vegetarian option on the kids menu

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I'm not keen on chain restaurants- I imagine they are sucessfully catering to a certain type of family. I prefer small places where kids can have a small adult portion

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Haven't eaten out much with a tiny child

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Comfy armchairs it's hard to feed in a dining chair

NotAQueef Tue 24-Sep-13 15:32:03

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Absolutely-totally unadventurous and full of fried or easy oven type food.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

A local cafe in a soft play near here is great. Not a chicken nugget or erroneous chip in sight. All healthier yet appealing options like small jackets, pasta with veg and sauce etc

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think there isn't much difference overall. Though when ds was around 5 months old we took him to a restaurant (Prezzo) and he needed to be completely changed. Having negotiated the precarious ending steps downstair it became apparent there was nowhere to change him, not even a disabled/accessible loo. So he had to be changed on the sinks. We've never been back as the staff just shrugged when I expressed surprise.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

By the time I was ready to go to restaurants with DS I was no longer breast feeding.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Offer of discreet place to sit ( if wanted, not made to feel as though they should hide away) sign or something to show they welcome bf'ing mothers.

dedado Tue 24-Sep-13 16:42:17

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
I would like it to improve. Not sure if it needs to, presumably it's a case of market forces.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
I Like when they serve children's food quickly, so they don't have to wait for the whole table's meals to be ready.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
I've not noticed

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
staff awareness maybe, don't distract a feeding baby ?

petalsandstars Tue 24-Sep-13 17:00:41

In most of the restaurants I've been to with my children we have asked for kids meals to be brought out first either with starters or just as soon as they are ready. In the majority of cases this doesn't happen so we are left with trying to placate hungry young children or giving snacks and rice cakes etc to prevent them spoiling the meal by crying and moaning.

I've not had issues breastfeeding in restaurants although if tables are very close together I have had to ask for them to be moved a little in order for me to have enough room to have baby on my knee to feed. And also as eating one handed takes longer staff have tried to clear my plate before I have finished as others had finished eating. A little common sense would prevent these issues.

Steffanoid Tue 24-Sep-13 17:12:45

ive not got experience of taking children to eat but have taken our ds out to lunch and tea staff have generslly been lovely moving tables, taking things to tables not minding if I take up all of the room with my giant pram

DoItTooJulia Tue 24-Sep-13 18:56:50

1. I think things have improved greatly. When I had my first ds 8 years ago, I would often go to places with no high hairs or kids menu. Now, I have a 10 month old ds and I don't think I've been anywhere to eat that doesn't have a kids menu. I do think that the food could be improved. Veggie food in particular is really overlooked for children.

2. One independent cafe that we go to has a brilliant selection of food for children. They have lots of organic food, advertise that there is no deep fat frying of kids meals, and they even offer some natural lollies.

3. Independents are usually better, I've found. They a more willing to go off menu for allergies or special requirements.

4. I've never ever had anything but a positive experience breastfeeding in restaurants, be they chains or independents. Most people, staff and customers, simply want to fuss over the baby!

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes definitely, i love it when we get a chance to eat out together, which isn't often and so tends to be a special occasion. Unfortunately the children's offer is sometimes woeful.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Bad example in my parents regular haunt. Sausage, chips and beans or nuggets chips and beans is the only choice, and it was very poor quality. Followed by an absolutely gigantic portion of ice cream which was ridiculous in size but probably cheap and easy to offer up.

Good examples are my local pub which does simple pasta dishes for children or a smaller version of the adults menu, which is nice quality and freshly prepared. No need to do low quality cheap menu just for children.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Not sure about this really. I try to support local independent shops, cafés and restaurants where possible but sometimes the offer is so poor that it makes me wonder how they survive. I've had good and horrible meals out in both chains and independents. The key thing I need when eating out with small children is efficient friendly service and a good chance that what I'm going to get to eat will be what I've ordered, and I suppose in that respect a chain is more predictable and safe.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

No, I've never done it.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

A sticker or sign somewhere showing you are bf friendly. Clued up staff who are friendly and relaxed about it. Perhaps offer up the venue to your local bf group during a quiet time in the day?

Cies Tue 24-Sep-13 20:03:18

I don't eat out much, but think the standard is pretty much the same as when I was a student and eating out loads.

Chains tend to have better children's equipment and set ups, but IMO what makes a child friendly place is the staff.

I've bf everywhere and never had any comments good or bad. I suppose just treating a family with respect and following tgeir lead on timings/where to sit etc would be the best.

poopoopoo Tue 24-Sep-13 20:18:37

Why can't we have a healthy version of mcdonalds, play area, entertainer, decent food, encourage them to eat real food without tempting them with processed rubbish. We also need to accept breast feeding, not make people go into the loos ( you would not eat your dinner there- or in the messy changing/ feeding room in Tescos!). My daughter wants to sit down and eat, my son wants to run around and grab a bite in between now and then. I don't want to go out places because it disturbs other people, soooo why can't restaurants provide an entertainer/ food service for the children- a bit like in very nice hotels, cater for them and what they need in an environment suited to children, adults can stay with them if they want or leave them with trained staff and enjoy a quiet meal while they have fun.

Wallison Tue 24-Sep-13 20:49:07

Actually, a children's entertainer would be my idea of hell. Why can't parents just teach their children that if they're out for a meal they should sit down and eat, rather than fondly watching on as the kids rampage around disturbing other people?

I'm with Wallison.

stephgr Wed 25-Sep-13 02:16:53

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK? Yes, there needs to be more variety and a move away from the standard mini pizzas, spaghetti, nuggets and things with chips.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them? I haven't found anywhere yet which has a interesting and very healthy childrens menus. Giraffe has salmon with veg on its menu but the last time I coerced my daughter into ordering it the veg was like mush.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why? I haven't noticed a big difference in menu items but I've found independent ones more willing to adapt items on the menu

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? No

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome? I guess employ staff actually make who Mums and children feel really welcome

pussinwellyboots Wed 25-Sep-13 15:02:18

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
Some places have got it really right and spot on, others could do a lot better. It annoys me when going to a high end restaurant (as we did for a recent family wedding) and the kids are offered chicken nuggets/fish fingers/sausages - my kids (and most others) are able to be much more adventurous!

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
see above - I like it when children can have a half portion of adult food rather than a separate menu.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
Probably, although we've had some good meals in eg pizza express - much more varied with independent places - perhaps there should be some national awards/standards.
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
Bad experience - celebrating my dads 60th in a very upmarket country house hotel was asked to breastfeed in the ladies toilet. Consequently spent most of the meal in there as he was having a growth spurt.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Allow them to breastfeed discreetly in the restaurant, bring them a glass of water and have breastfeeding covers available if required, not make a big thing of it.

BadlyWrittenPoem Wed 25-Sep-13 16:46:54

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
We have only once bought DD1 a meal off a children's menu as they usually seem to be mainly based around "yellow food" and we don't eat out to have that. On the occasion we did, we regretted it as the "spaghetti with chicken pieces and tomato sauce" was not chicken and tomato pasta as we had envisaged but spaghetti with chicken nuggets and ketchup which is not what we go to an italian restaurant for. Usually we just get two main courses and either a side or starter and share the food so that DD gets a sensible meal. What I would like to see is all restaurants offering child sized portions (maybe a half sized and a toddler sized one) of all the standard main meals on the menu at sensible prices. Currently IME restaurants offering child sized versions charge a disproportinate price for them and those with children's menus offer junk food.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
See previous answer.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
In terms of things like providing highchairs, cutlery, etc I would say that they are fairly even. I had one meal at an independent pub where we had to ask for cutlery for our child because it wasn't provided, were repeatedly asked if everything was okay for us "both" (when there were clearly three of us!) and when we asked for a dessert to share between the three of us we were brought two spoons. But on the other hand I have been to an independent cafe where the lady provided special small cutlery for our daughter and went and got extra cushions for her seat. Likewise, some chains provide drinks for us all when we ask for water and some just for the adults unless we specify that the children need drinks too.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
No. If my child needs to be breastfed while in a restaurant I just do it. If they don't I don't.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
To be honest I dislike the whole "breastfeeding welcome here" thing because it implies that there is question over whether it is welcome and that it might not be welcome everywhere/all the time when it should be. Giving "permission" to breastfeed implies that permission is needed so there should not be signs up giving "permission". If somebody asks if it's okay then of course they should be told it is fine but the signs imply that people shouldn't without permission.

BadlyWrittenPoem Wed 25-Sep-13 16:56:06

Just been reading other people's replies and I like the suggestion of knorks/sporks for breastfeeding mums - it would make eating one handed a lot easier!

TenaciousOne Wed 25-Sep-13 21:01:57

* Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?*
I agree that childrens menus needs to be improved, DS doesn't eat burgers, fish fingers or chicken nuggets. He does eat chips but only when we are eating them. I prefer to be able to choose similar to what we are eating. Also meal sizes needs to be looked at they shouldn't be the same from 1 all the way up to 12.

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
We have started to go to restaurants that do Mezze type meals so you order sharing plates. Mainly as DS wants to eat what we are eating. We also go to a lovely local cafe that has blackboard tables which is brilliant at keeping DS entertained and they have dairy free food which is even better as DS is dairy intolerant.

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
It depends on the chain and the independent.

Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

No good or bad experiences.

majjsu Wed 25-Sep-13 21:32:11

General standard - think it is ok
Good examples - there is an independent pub which offers fresh cooked food and entertainment for the children.
Independent restaurants - most tend to be good, offer good customer service and tend to go the extra mile.
Breastfeeding - I used to breastfeed in restaurants. I was ok, others used to stare. Think it would be good to have a childrens area where you can sit and feel comfortable.

CMOTDibbler Wed 25-Sep-13 21:35:30

Generally, I think childrens menus are yuck, and so does ds. I much prefer it when somewhere offers small portions of everything on the main menu. Or he chooses a starter and a side dish to make up a main.

Of our favoured lunch places, one offers a small or large plate choice for everyone, and the other will do a small plate or offers an extra plate for those small enough to just graze from their parents plates. Both are v child friendly in an understated way - no toys or bright tat, just very welcome with clean highchairs, childrens cutlery, and understanding.

Turnipvontrapp Wed 25-Sep-13 23:27:21

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes they need to stop offering chicken nuggets all the time, be more adventurous.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Bad examples are chicken nuggets and chips with everything.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Depends, there are good and bad chains and independents.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Can't remember any sorry!

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Give breastfeeding mums free drinks (non-alcoholic).

MrsAJB Thu 26-Sep-13 12:18:41

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes!! I agree that it needs to improve. I hate the generic kids meal options at most chain restaurants. If you’re going to entice them with photograph menus full of chicken nuggats, pizza and fruit shoots then it's an easy decision for children to make. I'm not against my dc having a treat and an occasional McDonald's for example, so when I take him there, I know that's exactly what he will order. Restaurants should offer all adult meals in child size portions at a reduced cost.

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes?

Local independent restaurant does a lovely carvery with a wide selection so my LO can choose a variety of foods. I prefer taking my family to independent restaurants over a chain company, particularly if it offers a play area.

red23 Thu 26-Sep-13 19:06:14

My children , age 1 and 2 both love the food in Ikea -the play area is also a bonus to blow off some steam.

katiewalters Thu 26-Sep-13 20:38:31

General standard for kids meals are ok, but think they could be better. You only seem to get the same few meals everywhere you go. I've found before, my sons wanted something we are having, but they don't do it on the kids menu, and if we got him an adult one we would be wasting money as he wouldn't eat it all, so sometimes he's shared with me or had to have something else. I ate at a fort jester pub and liked their kids menu, they had a Good variety of meals and liked that the kids could pick which veg they wanted with their meal.
I breast feed, and will breast feed wherever I need to as I do it discreetly. I've done it when eating out, only thing I would say is depending on what the tables and seats are like it can be a squeeze or awkward to feed the baby at the table. A comfy chair in the baby facility would be good for those people that don't like to feed in front of others, or a separate feeding room

maxmissie Thu 26-Sep-13 21:14:36

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Agree, most places have the standard list of sausages, fishfingers, burger etc with chips/mash and beans or pizza. Sometimes there is a pasta option. Often doesn't appear to be very appetising or the portions are very large or too small. Small versions of all adult meals would be a great idea - not sure why this isn't more commonly done anyway.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

None locally but when on holiday in Devon this summer we went to an independent restaurant which was great for the kids; they did starters that the kids loved (dough balls, nachos, garlic bread), my daughter predictablly had a pizza (which was freshly made and tasty) and they did a small portion of an adult's meal of meatballs for my son (which were also delicious) and we took home what we didn't eat in a doggy bag.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Doesn't seem to be much difference to me; some chains are good and some are not; same for independents.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

N/A as didn't breastfeed.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Space for people to sit comfortably and allow them some privacy if required.

Babycarmen Fri 27-Sep-13 16:54:13

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
Yeah I would agree, there usually isn't much choice for kids or it is the usual, burger, nuggets, sausages or pizza to choose from no matter where you go!

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
Most of the local ones are what I said above, there is a big lack of healthy options.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
In my experience worse, although I would expect it to be different. It doesn't seem like a lot of independent places think about childrens needs.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
I have had bad experiences from other customers, but staff are usually fine.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Have a comfortable seating area and maybe even signs up saying breastfeeding is welcome so other customers dont feel the need to comment.

Theimpossiblegirl Fri 27-Sep-13 17:43:33

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
It does need to improve- most of the food on offer is friend junk.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
Our local pub does child sized portions of adult meals, including steak. It makes a nice change.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
They vary but all seem to lack imagination.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
I haven't breastfed for a few years but never had any problems as a discrete feeder. Someone I know recently got told they couldn't feed in our local Costa though.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Maybe a universal sign in the door to show they are breastfeeding friendly. That would be a good campaign.

asuwere Fri 27-Sep-13 18:45:24

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I would say there is a big tendency for child menus to just be hot dogs or nuggets and chips which is quite disappointing and could be improved.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

As I said, child menus often seem to be 'beige food'. I like places where they just have a menu and you can order half/child size portions of anything -makes it more of a family meal, rather than adults having proper food while kids are fobbed off with rubbish nuggets.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I think independent places are generally more interested in their food in general so have a better menu and may be fore likely to offer child sizes of their real food. There are some chains which are very good though.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've breastfed in many restaurants but I can't think of any bad or good experiences. I've never really thought of it as an issue and really can't think what would make it a good experience. Worst that I can think of is finding it really awkward to feed if in a booth but it's not a big problem.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

I can't think of anything and not sure that they do need to make them feel welcome - they are just people so same as anyone else.

kateandme Fri 27-Sep-13 22:38:23

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
i think the restaurant that have higher cliental arent into kids being around much.many people seem to alsmost sniff at them when your bring them in.
i think it is difficult.children should be taught to be in the eating out situation.its all part of growing up.weve had some of our best times as a big family out togetrher during a meal so its good to get them started when you can.
id like some places to be more welcming with the children.
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
generally they are very good.but the pubs,chains seemto makret for them better which isnt so nice becasue sometimes you want to go somewhere a bit more "pricey"for a special meal and its a bit tricky to feel wanted.
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?i think asking helps.when we go to independant places if we ask for half portions of a standard meal they can be very helpful.
but chains are good for kids menus but whats on them isnt fantastic.its can be same old meals but i want my children to be ableto experience new stuff too.if we out and they want beans and nuggest great,thats their treat when they are that age,but what if they wanted something like us or a bit more exciting,id liek them to be able to do that too.
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? n/a
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?n/a

snowlie Sat 28-Sep-13 08:18:11

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I don't think the standard of food for kids in the UK is any better or any worse than other countries we have visited. Many good restaurants and unfortunately a few bad ones too. And the quality of food can always improve, especially in chains. We've had a few occasions where the adults food was freshly prepared and cooked and the kids food was a processed pile of beige oven food. Even the quality of kids ice cream will be poor compared to the main menu.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
We go to a great localish pub who can't do enough to please the kids - they offer smaller portions of the adult menu or the usual kiddie favourites cooked properly from scratch - not a nugget or fish finger in sight.
A good restaurant will be happy to cook anything simple for a kid - chicken breast, a bit if fish, some minced steak....it's not hard if the restaurant are in the business of cooking not just heating up.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
In general we do our best to avoid chain restaurant's as the food is predictably dull for the adults never mind the kids. We've mostly had great experiences in Wagamama - when they were smaller the kids made a huge mess and the staff were fantastic, as were the menus, loads of high chairs, interesting juices and interesting food of the adults too.

LaTrucha Sat 28-Sep-13 13:33:53

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
In all honesty, not for me. My children are not mad keen on trying new things, so I'm always relieved when I see the same old same old. I even went through a phase of avoiding anywhere that advertised 'handcut chips' or the like as I knew DD wouldn't touch them and she'd be hungry. A little more variety aswell as the standards, I am all for.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them? I like it when cafes do lunchboxes - by which I mean a selection of about a dozen things from which you can choose 5 to go in a box. That way I can usually get some sort of fruit and vegetables that DD will eat (ie raw) and soemthing else that she will eat willingly. I don't like to have to coax my children to eat, so if they can choose, that's good for me.
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why? Worse. They try and do good food. This si not on for a meal out for my kids. I would never take them in. It sounds like I am a terrible mother, but it's my experience.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants? Only good.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome? Perhaps if they displayed some sort of message to say it was welcome mothers would feel more confident that they wouldn't be challenged, or if they were, that the restaurant would back them up.

SacreBlue Sat 28-Sep-13 13:40:04

Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

It depends on the restaurant and on expectations. I have never chosen for my DS from kids menus were 'chips, beans & random meat' were the only options - he just had a starter or part of mine but I know others like to see this on the menu

Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Nearly every place I have seen a kids menu it has been the above chips, beans etc - not for me or my DS but again, some parents prefer this choice.

In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Independents have nearly always been more suitable for our needs - no idea why this is, perhaps because a chain has to cater for 'everyone' while independents can concentrate on the food and let parents decide. I prefer menus for me at independents so assume my food preferences have informed my DS choices

Davinaaddict Sat 28-Sep-13 17:11:37

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Yes definitely. It's always the same boring and unhealthy options. Some make a bit of an effort, but generally I'd prefer it if they offered smaller versions of the adults choices. Also, and I know it's not easy to solve, but my 1yo doesn't eat the same amount as a 7 yo would, yet the portion size is always the same,waning either loads go to waste or my children eat more than they would normally.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Not really, but they do generally all follow the theme of sausages or chicken dippers and chips, with maybe some token peas.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Generally speaking, I'd say the independents tend to be marginally better as they tend to offer something different overall.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I've not had any noticeably good or bad experiences. I've just got on and done it, and never been bothered.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Given my experience, not much! However, I know some people have had some terrible experiences. If I was opening a restaurant, I may consider offering a feeding room for those mums that like to have some privacy (new or not very confident feeders). Having said that, I would never ask someone to use it, just an extra facility for customer use.

RubySparks Sat 28-Sep-13 19:18:21

Never had any problem breastfeeding in cafe or restaurant so that was non issue for me. The one thing that might improve that experience would be for food to be kept hot if the ,othe ris unable to eat due to feeding the baby. I think it is bizarre to have children's menus which are generally fast food type not very healthy stuff e.g. Chicken nuggets, fish fingers - not so bad if they are homemade but usually would just be bought in and reheated. It would be preferable to be given a children's portion option where it would basically be similar to the adult's choice but half the size (and half the price!).

Offering some kind of taster platter would be good too so that children get a chance to try out new foods without wasting much food or costing a lot. It would be particularly nice to see fresh fruit offered rather than always ice cream. Having said that mine are now teenagers so paying for adult meals now anyway! Taster platter would still work though.

clabsyqueen Sat 28-Sep-13 19:52:18

I have breastfed 2 children in many chain restaurants and cafes with no problem ever - pizza express zizzi nandos John Lewis. Neither have I had any problem in independent cafes.
The chain restaurants offer good children's options in my experience and will always give empty plates for sharing and omit sauces when requested eg zizzi Nandos
My only negative comment is that the staff at Jamie oliver restaurants sprinkle sea salt over children's portions.
Overall John Lewis is my favourite. I go nearly every day! And have probably breastfed in every department!

Halfbaked Sat 28-Sep-13 19:52:52

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
I think generally choice is poor and limited to nuggets/sausage/chips/ pasta. I would think if your child was veggie it would be very difficult. I think training of staff needs to improve, especially in "family friendly" places as just little things could make the experience more pleasant, like where you are seated, getting a highchair having space for buggies, quick service and actually engaging with the children. Clean highchairs too, some are utterly disgraceful.
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?
I think places that offer the same as adult but smaller portions are good, but agree with many that what a 2year old will eat is not the same as a 12 year old. I hate food waste, so serving 5 fish fingers to my 2 year old is just ridiculous, for us and the restaurant. The standard ice cream for dessert is rubbish too, often not the same quality as for the adults.
Giraffe have been good for making orders quick, bringing lidded drinks with straws in them, plus crayons paper and a balloon over when my toddler started to get grumpy.
I wish places would bring the food quickly and at a temperature that a small child could eat. It's normally piping hot and trying to cool it down before my toddler grabs and burns herself just makes it stressful.
Independent place Waffle House in Norwich is great for kids menu as mainly smaller version of adult dishes (although still too big for a toddler) there's a bit of mix and match which is good for picky eaters.
~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
I think some chains are good- weatherspoons/giraffe/ pizza express and some are poor cafe rouge/ prezzo
Some chains have more stuff like highchairs/ space but I think it's often down to the staff that makes it for me. Just a bit of customer service can go a long way. That differs and I don't think being a chain or independent makes a difference. I think generally our attitudes to children eating out in the Uk need to improve, we should teach our children how to eat out but be supported by restaurants to do so.
~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
Never had any issues
~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Quiet place, space staff who provide water and discretion. Love the spork/knork idea.

MumOfAPickle Sat 28-Sep-13 20:08:28

Best time eating out with our two was on holiday in menorca where they are so family friendly. They serve smaller portions of the normal menu as well as the usual stuff and loads of the restaurants had stuff for the kids to do - bouncy castles, trampolines, play equipment. I know lots of mnetters will think it sounds hideous but honestly it was all outside, all well laid out in a pretty enclosed space and meant me and Dh could have a leisurely meal with a glass of sangria every evening and kids had a ball, bliss!!

My pet hates eating out are, kids menu but no kids cutlery. Bringing the dc's food out on scorching hot plates. No kids drinks (yes I'm looking at you Pizza Express - £2.30 for a bloody orange juice!! Nearly a fiver just to get the kids drink each angry)

poachedeggs Sat 28-Sep-13 20:55:58

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

YES! I am sick to the back teeth of chicken nuggets, turkey dinosaurs, crap or absent veg and general poor quality and choice.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I like places that don't do a kids menu, they just do half portions instead. Much better.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

I probably don't have wide enough experience of this but I would say independents probably have more flexibility and so maybe do a better job of meeting the needs of children. However, places like Pizza Hut are fab for kids as they love all the salady bits, pasta, pizza etc.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

To be honest I am neutral about this - I don't expect to have experiences when breastfeeding, it's just something that human beings do when they have babies. It's never been a particular issue either positive or negative. Which is as it should be!

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Just have some seating that's not a rickety wooden chair in the middle of a busy room. And free cake grin

Babyonway3 Sun 29-Sep-13 06:02:16

I live in Southern Spain and I love the way that children are catered in restaurants out here in comparison to UK. The first thing that strikes you when eating out in Spanish restaurants in comparison to UK is that children are ALWAYS welcome! from the restaurant staff and diners, you never get 'dirty looks' as if to say 'why on earth have you brought your children here' which I have experienced plenty of times in UK - you are much more likely to have people smile fondly at the children or make a nice comment. Also, there is rarely a separate menu for kids, most restaurants will give a small ration of whatever is on the menu.. - I think UK restaurants could learn a lot from the atmosphere here in Andalusia towards children eating out with their parents.

purpleroses Sun 29-Sep-13 11:28:54

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?
It's not too bad really.
~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

I like it best when they offer a half size portion of anything on the menu. And where they don't put raw onion in salads.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
I have to say overall the chains are better. Independent restaurants round where I live are usually going for the couples market. They don't do children's menus, and are generally much pricier than chains which makes then unaffordable for family dining. The chains will usually produce paper/crayons as well which is good for younger children

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
I breastfed all over the place and never had any problems. Would always do it discreetly with a cardigan.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
Nothing really. Just accept it as normal when it happens. I don't want to see big signs saying "breastfeeding welcome" I would rather just assume that of course it's welcome unless they state otherwise. Personally I wouldn't want to go off away from everyone else to feed, though I think there are some mums who prefer to feed in private, so a comfy seat in or near the toilets might be good for them.

DanglingChillis Sun 29-Sep-13 18:09:02

Food for kids in restaurants is generally quite poor I think, you have to seek out the places that are good. Independents are either much worse or much better than chains depending on the actual place. I've found the place that are best are the ones that are not obviously 'child friendly' but are friendly to the children of their customers IYSWIM. We have a very naice restaurant near us and they are fantastic with kids, they have a good kid's menu with real food, also do half portions, the kids get child sized metal cutlery (don't get me started on the adult sized plastic cutlery from IKEA that most places offer) and nice melamine plates and cupss. They have waitress service (can't be doing with going up to a counter when I'm out with the kids), take the kids food out just before the adults so you have time to cut it up before you get your own. Best of all, there are very few kids there!

We've just had a really good experience at a local castle where they do a family picnic platter, lots of small plates of food put in the middle of the table, we got nice sandwiches, delicious pork pies (I'd never had a pork pie I liked until today, I now see the attraction!), tasty mini quiches, crisps, salad, chutney, pickles. It was really tasty, the kids tried everything, and was also not too expensive. And they had a model castle for the kids to play with, what could be better?

I've never had any negative comments about BFing in local cafes or restaurants. Most people are very supportive in my experience. I've been given a big glass of water when the waitress noticed I was BFing, that was really thoughtful.

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

I agree - we have no childcare, so only ever eat out with the DCs. Although the places we eat normally make a fuss of the children, more interesting meal choices would be very welcome.

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

9 times out of 10, it seems to be chips with fish fingers/burgers/nuggets etc, no matter what the adult menu is. I suppose this suits a lot of children (and my eldest would certainly never turn down chips!), but it would be refreshing to see the main menu reflected more in the children's menu. I would like DS1 to have a real choice - at 3, he probably thinks that "... with chips" is what restaurants are about.

I appreciate it when a restaurant offers smaller portions of the main menu for children (most recently, thank you Number 1 Bar and Kitchen in Norfolk smile ). I personally also like it when simple drinks (eg, milk) are on the menu - DS1 is still young enough that he will drink whatever he is given.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?

Unfortunately there is a lack of good independents locally, so when away from home I actively seek out independents who have a reputation for catering well to both adults and children. To me, a good restaurant/eaterie is somewhere where DH and I can enjoy a nice meal, but our children aren't afterthoughts. It doesn't need to be all singing and dancing, but a clean highchair, balanced children's menu, friendly attitude and welcoming manner make for a good eating experience. I am more likely to find these attributes in an independent, but I have to seek them out.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

I breastfed DS1 for 3 years, and am currently breastfeeding DS2. I have never had a bad experience in a restaurant - people just carry on as normal, which is how I like it!

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

Comfy chairs are always a plus, as is enough room between the seating and the table. I've found that a few chains have fixed bench seating with tables that are on the high side, meaning I have to sit at an odd angle. Other than that, nothing that they wouldn't do for another customer, mainly provide good service (eg, offer drinks) and perhaps lend a hand if mine are full.

starlight36 Sun 29-Sep-13 22:42:23

The general standard of children's food does need to improve. We find that a lot of children's menus still tend to have lots of chicken nuggets and chips or sausages and mash - regardless of the food on offer on the general menus. It would be great to have smaller portions of the main dishes on the children's menus. We have been in a few independent pubs and restaurants where often mini portions of roasts are served at the weekend.

In general independent restaurants and pubs tend to be more child friendly.

I tend to time feeds to avoid breastfeeding whilst out for a meal. Partly this is so that our baby is fed and asleep so that I can fully relax and enjoy the meal without amusing our baby.

StarsAboveYou Sun 29-Sep-13 23:13:11

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Disagree, I've eaten out with DS regularly and have never had any issues.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?

Again, I've regularly bf in cafes and restaurants without ever having any problems.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?

No concerns so I can't suggest anything here.

Lilpickle08 Sun 29-Sep-13 23:33:30

~ Do you agree or disagree that the general standard of children food and eating experience needs to improve in restaurants in the UK?

Totally agree - the food is very 'samey' - all chicken nuggets, burgers, chips etc, never seems to be particularly healthy, though there are exceptions of course. They always seem to end in ice cream too - what about some nice 'healthy' ish puddings?

~ Do you have any good or bad examples of kids menus in your local independent restaurants, pubs and cafes? What do you like or not like about them?

Some of the independents have a more varied menu and healthier options - for example, soup, jacket potatoes, spag bol. Also the independents tend to make their own sauces etc rather than buying them in, so the food is healthier AND tastier.

~ In your experience, are independent restaurants worse or better than the chains at catering for your and child’s needs? Why?
This varies to be honest. I have a child with serious food allergies, so some of the independents are not that great with knowing what allergens are in their food, whereas the majority of the chains have allergen leaflets or information recorded somewhere that outlines what ingredients are in their food.

~ Have you any good or bad experiences to share about breastfeeding your child in restaurants?
I haven't been brave enough to breastfeed in a restaurant. I did do a sneaky breastfeed in the corner of a pub though.

~ What more could restaurants do to make breastfeeding mums feel welcome?
I would be more comfortable if they had posters that said 'we welcome breastfeeding here' or something like that - so you know that if a member of public objected, the restaurant would be on your side. It's sad that there is still that worry really, but unfortunately people do still kick up a fuss! Also it would be great to have a little area where you could breastfeed discretely - with comfy chairs etc.

An interesting debate!

mummyofcutetwo Sun 29-Sep-13 23:53:59

DH, DS1, DS2 and I went for an unplanned meal at a local pizza restaurant yesterday. The staff are divided into people who seem to consider customers to be an utter nuisance and others who love children and love to see families out to dine together.

The things they do well - they always have a lot of highchairs available and they're happy for babies/toddlers to share your food.

The things they could do better - a bit more space between tables so people don't trip over the legs of the highchair and then glare at you; a stock of toddler friendly plates/bowls/cutlery; not put the steaming hot plates of food/jugs of water/super sharp steak knives in front of the toddler (you've moved EVERYTHING from in front of them for a reason!); to understand that you'd like the bill and to pay quickly after the meal has been finished as toddlers and small children aren't so very good at small talk and can get a bit restless if bored!

I tend to try to take some toddler cutlery, straws and a few small and quiet toys/books everywhere with me but sometimes I do get caught out.

NotCitrus Mon 30-Sep-13 07:41:58

My eldest is 5. It's got a lot better and problems tend to be individual clueless staff rather than anything else.
Eg two 4yos had been really good so we let them order icecream, so one scoop each of choc or strawberry.
Had to chase order 3 times. 45 min later a waiter brought bowls of 3 scoop of different flavours and both had total hysterics at huge portion and Wrong flavours. And waiter panicked and said he had to ask kitchen for more, couldn't just put scoop onto separate bowls. I gave him one minute before demanding cups from the barmaid and doing it myself - so then of course just as we were leaving, an hour after the order, two more icecreams arrived and boys howled because they weren't allowed to eat them...

Generally it's fine, just give me easy to provide bits and don't muck about with them - if child scared of most food asks for a plain Yorkshire pudding on a plate, and you say no problem, bringing a bowl with the pud half sunk in gravy isn't going to go down well. Nor is pulling the same pud out!

High chairs helpful but not vital, and better none than the weird padded reclining Graco ones. Bench seats in booths handy once they can sit. And bring the bill quickly, especially if asked at the start of the main course - kids are fine for two courses but want to push off at the end.

Independents are the same - usually good, often great, staff are crucial. Flexibility - offering half of most pasta dishes, starters, or just like the cafe the other day, letting toddler have a whole slice of cheese while I had a coffee.

Breastfeeding - never had a problem, some cafes have obsessively offered me water. But some cafes don't have any sofas or low comfy chairs so I didn't go to them when bfing. Being told "please come again!" is really reassuring when you have spent a couple hours on one drink trying to bf a tiny baby.

Agree a bfing sticker on the door would be reassuring.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 30-Sep-13 11:49:00

Thanks for all the interesting feedback: am pleased to say the winner of the £100 voucher is YourHandInMyHand - congrats!

smile So happy! grin

CatHackney Wed 02-Oct-13 23:06:40

Restaurants could make breastfeeding mothers feel more welcome by posting a "breastfeeding welcome" sticker on their doors, offering to bring over water, and offering food.

Restaurants generally tend to put too much salt into adult food as it is, so I'd be keen on places that offered fresh food for kids without salt and with a nice variety of vegetables. Plain pasta is unacceptable.

I've bf in all sorts of places no problem. We have a new local gastro pub & it's great to see they'll do 1/2 portions of adult meals for kids. I feel it shows it's all home made not frozen in microwaveable portions. I love taking my dd out to eat but find it easier if it's just me & her as she gets all the attention so doesn't get bored

Noseynoonoo Sun 24-Nov-13 21:55:55

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