Dining Out with a Toddler

Pre-baby, my husband and I swore that we wouldn’t turn into one of those couples who vanishes when they have a child, who doesn’t do anything adult and fun anymore. “We’ll still travel! And eat out!” we declared to our friends – most of whom justifiably rolled their eyes at us.

Post-baby, we were determined to return our lives to some semblance of what they used to be. With our baby in tow.

Eating out – once such a pleasure, is now a tactical mission. Dining out with a 14-month-old toddler (whose nickname is Cheese, and who does not like to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time) requires a solid plan with no deviations. Starting with a checklist of necessary equipment: Bib, baby spoon, squeezy food pouch, sippy cup, milk bottle, board books, Cheddar Bunnies, spare outfit, diapers, wipes … did I miss anything?

Timing is crucial. When Cheese goes down for her early morning nap, the house springs into action – a flurry of showering, dressing, make-up applying, hair taming, to make us presentable to eating out in public.

If timing is crucial, then research is critical. The days of taking a casual stroll around the neighborhood and trying a brand-new, hip cafe, are over. Instead, I scout out possible locations online and tick off another checklist: high chairs, stroller storage, reservations to minimize time spent waiting.

The second that Cheese wakes, we throw her into her travel stroller and take off for the pre-veted venue. We sigh with relief when we are seated quickly and Cheese happily waves at the servers, the hostess, the people sitting next to us.

We hope for the tolerance of fellow diners to put up with dropped cutlery, chunks of bread thrown on the floor, and the occasional shriek of boredom when Cheese has just had enough. We also order food fast, including things she is sure to like as well. French fries, scrambled egg, slices of toast, cups of yogurt. The more food the better, to keep Cheese entertained so my husband and I can enjoy our brunch – which we shovel into our mouths as quickly as possible. We motion to the server halfway through our meal to bring us the check – he looks concerned, like he’s done something wrong, but we reassure him it’s so we can make a fast getaway once we’ve worn out the goodwill of those around us.

Between spooning bits of egg into Cheese’s mouth, collecting menus, napkins, and Cheddar Bunnies off the floor, we congratulate ourselves on getting out to brunch together.

Just like old times.


About the Author

Christine Knight hails from Sydney, Australia. She’s the founder of Brunch With My Baby  and a social media junkie. She tweets @christineknight, pins pinterest.com/clknight, Instagrams @clkt and blogs on her personal blog, Christine’sMusings incessantly. Christine spends most her days obsessively photographing and chasing her 14-month-old toddler around her new hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and pigging out on banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.

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  1. Alexandra says:

    I love this post because it is full of the important things–the enjoyment of life, exposing your little one to eating somewhere other than home, bringing her into the world of social etiquette, and you and your husband keeping on with the joy of a meal away from home.

    Very sweet, very cute. Brought back some memories to me.

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  2. Junebug says:

    This is pretty much my life right now. LOL Although 1/2 the time we end up taking turns holding her and entertaining her while the other one shoves in their meal as quickly as possible before switching.

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