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.

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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.

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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….

KidNosh

If you read this blog, you must know how much we enjoy food in this house. We cook a lot – trying new recipes weekly, if not even more frequent than that. What I don’t share all that often is how much we enjoy dining out, too! We are always on the hunt for a great, new restaurant – in fact my husband follows the blog Boston Restaurant Talk to always be in the know of what’s new, what’s closed, and what’s coming soon. We have an active list of new places we want to try and of course a never ending list of local faves we love to visit often.

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A recent trip to Parish Cafe (Z’s meal and milk not pictured)

And yes, before you ask – we love to take our babies out with us! I remember the first place we took our Z was when she was a month old and we were dying to go out. We strapped her in her bucket car-seat, went at night when we knew she’d be asleep, and had a lovely dinner at (the now closed) Chez Henri in Cambridge. We’ve been taking her out with us ever since and of course Baby M has been dining out since he was 2 weeks old, ha!

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Tavern on the Square in Burlington, we love to dine outside!

I will say though, especially now that we have a wild toddler, it’s tricky to always figure out a good place to go out as a family and have everyone be happy. Enter KidNosh. An awesome website that reviews restaurants so you know the best places to dine out with your kids – they do the tough part for you! You can search for restaurants by neighborhood, price range, or cuisine. It’s SUCH a great idea.

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Ruyi in Lexington for hibachi! Z covered her eyes for the onion volcano…

I am so excited to share with you today that I have joined the team at KidNosh and will be reviewing restaurants for the site. You can imagine how exciting this is, I of course already have a short list of places to review. I’ll be sharing links to my reviews as they come up but in the meantime, check out the site and do some research as to where to bring your kiddos out to dinner next!

 

Time for Mom