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New parents, rejoice! You can get out for a night out on the town with baby and still preserve your sanity and satiate your appetite. Taking baby to a restaurant may incite anxiety and fear in the hearts of many, but it is not impossible to do if you are adequately prepared.

Not too long ago, it was considered taboo to be taking baby to a restaurant during peak dinner hours. Now however, with people wanting to spend more time being involved with their children, it is not uncommon to see families dining together with young ones present. Whether it’s baby’s first time at a restaurant or if you make eating out a regular thing, there are some things that you can do to make taking baby to a restaurant an enjoyable and special occasion. Here are some tips for dining success:

8 Tips For Taking Child to Restaurant

Consider going during off hours
You don’t have to make the 8 p.m. sheik dining hour to be part of the social scene. If you have young children, you’re more likely to have success at a restaurant if you eat dinner a bit earlier in the evening. View taking baby to a restaurant as an adventure that should be wrapped up by 7 p.m. in order to facilitate earlier bedtimes. You and your children will thank you come morning!

Choose child-friendly restaurants
Baby’s first time at a restaurant should not be a nine course meal for you. You do not have to sacrifice your taste for the finer things by frequenting Chuck E Cheese every time you go out. Opt for places that accommodate families, though—ask if they have booster seats, diaper changing stations, and the like to ensure a smooth and enjoyable evening for everyone.

Feed the baby first
When taking baby to a restaurant, make sure you feed your little one first. If they are still solely on the breast or bottle, taking care of this detail before you leave the house will reduce your stress, knowing that your child is fed and comfortable. If your baby is a little older, having snacks on hand that you would normally feed him/her would be a great thing to carry with you, in case the restaurant does not have child friendly foods that you could assimilate into their meal.

Stock the diaper bag
New parents might not know exactly what to pack for baby’s first time at a restaurant—not to worry! There are lots of suggestions that you can find regarding what to take with you when dining out. Items like bottles, diapers, extra changes of clothing, toys, and snacks would be good items to have on hand in case the evening goes a little longer than expected. When taking baby to a restaurant, it is a good idea to anticipate any needs that may come up and be prepared for what would normally take place in the course of an evening.

Ask for a corner table
Taking baby to a restaurant should not be a spectacle; that can be uncomfortable for both parents and children. Sitting tucked back into a corner will afford you some privacy if you have to nurse, and it isn’t as big an interruption to others if your child begins to fuss and needs to be comforted.

Bring along plenty of distractions
Baby’s first time at a restaurant will not be without its challenges; it’s up to you as a parent to decide how to soothe and entertain your child based on his/her unique needs. Bringing along items like toys, pacifiers, favorite blankets, and other distractions will help pass the time and allow you to enjoy the company of others without having to constantly monitor your child and attend to his/her needs.

Make it quick if possible
While it is nice to enjoy the company of others, baby’s first time at a restaurant should not be a four hour fundraiser gala with a nine course meal. Test the waters when taking baby to a restaurant by choosing shorter social engagements and less formal atmospheres; the more comfortable you become in these situations, the more likely you will see success as you expand your social sphere once more with baby in tow.

Relax and go with the flow
Realize that your child may act up when you are in public, and your best chance for success is to relax and go with the flow while dealing with their unique needs and situation. Taking baby to a restaurant is socially acceptable, and people understand that there are ups and downs that go with parenting; most people extend compassion to parents who are struggling with a tired or hungry child, and rest assured, this too shall pass.

Conclusion

Parents, you have much to look forward to with your little ones, and taking them to new and exciting places is something you can all learn to enjoy with a little pre-planning and the right tools for success. Taking baby to a restaurant should be looked at as an adventure, with baby’s first time at a restaurant being something that can stimulate little minds, senses, and bodies. It is a learning and growing experience for all; embrace it, and enjoy the exhilarating ride that parenting affords those of us lucky enough to be on it!