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Going to restaurants with crawlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

HorryIsUpduffed Thu 03-Oct-13 09:59:04

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

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

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

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

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

X-post with mini exactly!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously - calm down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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