Family meals are important. Sometimes these meals include bringing kids to restaurants.

But dining out with your little one can be tricky! We recently ran a Feeding Tips Contest and asked for the best advice on eating at a restaurant with babies and toddlers. Here are few great tips for bringing kids to restaurants from moms, for moms, that you can put to good use!

Pick a Time and Place

One mom told us, “Bringing kids to places where there isn’t a long wait is best”. Planning ahead is crucial! Avoid peak times, pick a restaurant without long waits, and make a reservation if possible.

Be sure to consider baby’s schedule as well. Avoid being out during baby’s regular nap time and interrupting their routine. The more you are able to keep baby on their regular schedule, the better!

Plan a Seating Chart

Determining where your baby sits at a restaurant is important. Some parents like having baby on their lap for part of the time. Keeping their high chair next to their caregiver and facing people is key. Try placing the high chair so they are able to see people walking by. A mom who uses this trick with her 3 year old son says, “All the action keeps him entertained.” Even if your child is younger, seeing people move about the restaurant can help them learn to track objects with their eyes.

Tips for bringing kids to restaurants

Pack Snacks

Snacks can be your best friend at a restaurant, especially when you don’t know how quickly your food will be served. It can help to order as soon as possible after you’re seated. Still, waiting isn’t easy!

Bring along some of your go-to finger foods or snacks. One mom said she likes giving her daughter a choice in snacks before they leave the house because even if she picks from just two choices, she is more interested in it.

Games On-The-Go

The fun doesn’t have to stop just because you’re at a restaurant! Use the new environment to play some games with your little one. One mom told us her family plays a game naming vegetables, fruits, or animals starting with certain letters. A game like this is great because you don’t need to bring anything with you. There are many variations you can make to keep your child entertained, and it is a great way practice letters and communication skills.

Entertainment at the Table

Coloring and using stickers, two very popular restaurant activities, both are great for developing fine motor skills. Check out our favorite toys for toddlers.

Other ideas for screen-free games and toys to entertain your little one at restaurants include pop-up books, high chair toys that spin, and crinkly baby toys. The crinkly ribbon toy serves as sensory experience for baby. They are able to hear the sound of the crinkle and feel the different materials on the fabric and ribbons. Check out our favorite toys for baby. 

The right time to first take your baby to a restaurant is a family decision. But when you and your child are ready, use some of these tips for eating out with baby to make the outing a little easier on everyone!