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Eating out with a Toddler – 7 Tips to Survive

surviving eating out with a toddler

Eating out was and still is one of my favourite things to do. Yummy food, a glass of vino and no washing up. I’d be warned by several friends to eat out as much as I could before my eldest came along. This will be a totally different experience with her after. Really? I thought stuffing down a curry a few weeks before I was due. But they were right. Surviving eating out with a toddler is an achievement, trust me!

After she was born it was mine and hubby’s 1st wedding anniversary a week later and we ventured out to Cafe Rouge for a meal. The gremlin slept the entire time! Well this is great, we thought. I also remember going out with a friend for an Italian and both our newborns slept the entire time again. Piece of cake. Newborns are easy!

Things changed though as she got older.

At one point hubby and I went through a bit of time when we refused to go out and eat – it was a waste of time and money and not enjoyable at all. Big fat sense of false security were those newborn days! As soon as weaning commenced it started to change. The grabbing of everything in sight. The MESS! I have since got used to the state of carnage we leave under the table after a meal. It’s like a pack of wild dogs have raided a bin bag and dumped it under the high chair.

Now she’s walking it’s even worse. The constant “Come outs”, fidgeting and climbing out of the high chair and grinning triumphantly, means I wolf my food down just to get out. Usually by this time the food’s cold as I have been ensuring the toddler eats first. Phew!

This phase of not eating out didn’t last long. I mean we couldn’t just stay in and eat all the time because of a toddler. Right?

Surviving Eating Out With a Toddler

Right. We started eating out again and just had more of a survival guide. Here it is:

– Time is money. Check the menu BEFORE you go so you can literally pounce on the waiter/waitress and get your order in within 30 seconds of sitting down. This ensures little monsters have less time to get bored.

– Use modern technology. I was completely against this before having kids but oh I have gone back on that one. I want to eat in peace so yes darling, you can watch Peppa Pig on my phone, at the table.

– Use ANYTHING the staff give you. Breadsticks, paper, crayons. It takes my toddler’s attention for like 2 minutes.

– Take some of your own food. My eldest invariably eats some of her ordered food and starts asking for yoghurt or a fromage frais. I usually take a little tub of Greek yoghurt, 1/2 a banana and a scone to keep her quiet for a bit longer.

– As I said before, I used to care about mess; now I don’t. I let her feed herself when the food comes and it’s cooled down. It’s that or eating stone cold food myself!!

– Order a glass of wine. Everything becomes hysterical with about 25ml of Sauvignon Blanc and an empty tummy. Is that just me?

– Don’t make the mistake of letting them down or out of the highchair. You will NEVER get them back in without a monster tantrum (I learnt this on Mother’s Day).

So there you go. I hope these help or have at least made you smile. Please pass on your tips too. Surviving eating out with a toddler is possible!

You can enjoy a meal out with kids!

surviving eating out with a toddler


  1. Jenny Eaves
    March 23, 2015 / 8:38 am

    Ha! This is quite true! We don't eat out often as we're trying to save money, but I've found the new 'thing' are family rooms at restaurants. It's a separate room with just parents and young kids and an area for toys as well as tables and highchairs. It's great! They can get down and play and then come back for food when it arrives and then play again. 🙂 xx

  2. March 23, 2015 / 9:01 am

    Lol so funny – I agree re the wine ordering! I have to admit I too was against Peppa Pig but needs must and its good for them (and us mummys!) to get out from time to time! #mummymonday

  3. Working mummy and wife
    March 23, 2015 / 9:35 am

    This is so true!!

  4. March 23, 2015 / 11:00 am

    Oh man I totally am with you on this!! We now rely on the tablet and quick service to get us through eating out, plus I never know what Alfie is going to do next so we are kept well and truly on our toes 😀 xx

  5. Charlotte A
    March 23, 2015 / 7:55 pm

    Haha I definitely agree with the last one! As soon as Elsa gets out of the highchair that's it, she's had enough and she's ready to leave and move on to something else. It's the same with the pushchair actually. If I let her get out in the supermarket she's never getting back in!

    I tend to order something cold for me, unless I have another person with me to help feed Elsa, otherwise it just ends up getting cold while I cut up sausages into toddler friendly chunks.

  6. March 23, 2015 / 9:29 pm

    Great tips Sarah – I agree with them all! And yes, those early days definitely lull you into a false sense of security with regards to eating out. I always make sure my bag is full of comics and crayons and various free toys that come with them to try and keep the girls occupied when eating out and the phone is a lifesaver if they're getting really fidgety (although having one phone and two children becomes problematic if I'm on my own!)

  7. emma lander
    March 23, 2015 / 11:27 pm

    Ha ha this is so funny and true. I'd say we've just got there with boo and then along came Beb to start it all again! Only recently I allowed boo to order beans whilst out because of the mess. Until then it was only peas but even they were a nightmare as they travel! #MaternityMondays

  8. March 24, 2015 / 7:47 am

    Fab tips that I completely agree with! Especially the one about wine!! #TwinklyTuesday

  9. Tickle Fingers
    March 24, 2015 / 9:43 am

    All true, especially wine and never letting them out of the highchair! I reckon it's worth it though as the more you eat out with them, the more they get used to relaxing with you in a restaurant. And I'm like you, I can't give up my meals out!

  10. Mariet at Practicingnormal
    March 24, 2015 / 12:25 pm

    We have not eaten out in ages, mostly because I have too many kids. It's get very expensive if you have five of them. When they were little we used to order one meal for two of them to share, now that they are older they eat a bit more. When we do go out it is a huge occasion. I remember trying to control five kids at a restaurant, it was not fun. I do love your tips though. Especially bringing something else for them to eat. #TwinklyTuesday

  11. March 24, 2015 / 7:49 pm

    All so true. We do use iPhones/iPads as the ultimate calming aid, although we try not to let the kids have them the moment we walk into the restaurant. The other thing we often do – especially in places we know tend to dawdle on service – is to order starters and main courses to arrive together.

  12. Dave Prescott
    March 24, 2015 / 8:02 pm

    Or you can take Grandpa and he will run around after her, when she follows people into the toilets or behind the bar, oh and she loves the toy machines, grabbers and the £1 turn the handle and get a pressie, that's another 2 minute distraction.

  13. Gemma Louise
    March 27, 2015 / 9:17 am

    some really great tips here 🙂 It is nice to be able to go out for dinner with the children but I sometimes think it isn't worth the stress. Although luckily my Corey enjoys his food too much to get bored!! I love the idea of the Grandad going along in the comments above ^. I take nanny and she does the same!

    thanks for joining in on #mummymonday 🙂 love, Gemma – host xo