One of the questions I get asked most frequently by other Moms is how I manage to get Teddy to behave in restaurants. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we eat out a LOT. And Teddy is always with us. While there are many tips I can offer for optimizing your experience while in the restaurant (we’ll get to that in another post), there is one thing you can do at home before you ever step foot outside.
Once your baby is sitting on his/her own and eating solids, you’ll be ready to graduate to a high chair at restaurants (yay!) which is both a blessing and a curse. Prior to this, you baby was so small they were probably relatively easy to dine out with – you could carry them in a carrier on your chest, or keep them sleeping in a stroller. Once they’re in a high chair, however, they’re officially a part of the table – awake, alert and probably HUNGRY. Since the high chair at home signals immediate feeding for your baby, it’s reasonable that they’d expect the same in a restaurant high chair.
This is where you can run into trouble. Whether you packed food for them or are ordering off the children’s menu, you likely cannot get the food in front of them IMMEDIATELY the way you do at home, and this can cause a lot of frustration for your hungry baby. Now they’re screaming and you’re frantically trying to flag down a waiter to bring you an emergency loaf of bread.
You can avoid this scenario completely by training them to wait at home. Essentially, instead of preparing your baby’s food and THEN putting him/her in the highchair and immediately serving it, make them wait. Since he was about 9 months old, each morning after his milk, I change Teddy and bring him to his high chair. He sits and watches as I make my coffee, make my cereal, and make whatever he is eating. For the first few weeks, he would pound his fists and scream, frustrated and unable to understand why I wasn’t rushing to bring him his food. I ignored him or gently said, “Teddy you need to wait.” Slowly, he became more patient. He realized that I was making his food, he would always get it, and that screaming didn’t speed up the process. Now he claps and giggles and points at me while I’m making breakfast, which is much more pleasant for both of us. More importantly, when we go to restaurants, he doesn’t associate the high chair with immediately being fed. He is happy to sit and play until his meal is ready, which makes dining out a more fun, relaxed experience for everyone.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post when I’ll dig more into the dos and don’ts of dining out with tots!