How to Eat Out with Young Kids

We got a (very hard to get) reservation to try Mario Batali’s newly opened Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca for Saturday (early) evening and we are SO excited to try it. When I have been sharing the news with folks everyone has asked if we got a babysitter. No, we’re bringing the munchkins! We eat out at a nice restaurant at least once a week and it’s usually a fine experience.

Common-Ground-Arlington-1

Have we had meltdowns and debated getting our meals to go and leaving immediately? Yes (once, Z had just gotten shots at the dr and she was NOT happy). Have we had such a long dinner that our toddler gets beyond cranky and we’ve had to put on a Disney Jr show just so we can finish our meals? Yes. Has our 4 month old baby had an unending crying fit when we went out to a hibachi steakhouse and the onion volcano terrified him? Yes, but that one was a poor parenting call (oops). But for the most part when the four of us go out to dinner we can sit, have a drink, an appetizer, and our meals without any over the top meltdowns. I thought it was time that I put a little list together of how we’ve gotten to this place and how to eat out with young kids in case anyone needs help in this department.

the girls-2

1. Start em young. When Z was less than 10 weeks old we went out to dinner at Chez Henri in Cambridge (which doesn’t exist anymore, sad). We got a couple looks but most people just thought she was a cute baby. She slept, ate a little, sat in her bucket carseat – it’s a good age to start a restaurant routine because they’re not doing much anyway. If they’ve always been going out to restaurants they will be used to it.

2. Let them order what they want. It’s a #treatyoself situation. Most of us go off our normal diet or eating routine and treat ourselves at a restaurant to something a little special so let your kids do the same. These days Z pretty much chooses between a meal with fries or noodles.

3. Go early. Your kids eat early anyway and there is no shame in arriving at 5pm so your meals are out and you’re eating by 5:30.

4. Come armed with distractions. Most non-chain restaurants are lacking in the complimentary coloring book and crayons department so we always bring our own items to play with – similar to the type of toys you’d want to bring on a plane: anything soundless, mess-less and small. We love these Water Wow coloring books, I always have one in a Ziploc in my bag. Our Z also brings an arsenal of “girls” (little plastic Disney princess figures) that keep her busy forevvvvver.

5. Lower your expectations. You can bring your young children most places but maybe get a sitter if you’re going to L’espalier. Right? A great reference locally here in the Boston area is the site KidNosh (for whom I write reviews!) to learn which restaurants are more welcoming to children.

What tips do you have for dining out with your kiddos? I assume all my tips will change when my kids are older but for now this works for us! Happy dining out and I will definitely be blogging about Babbo next week….

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