We asked our readers for smart tips on how to enjoy a restaurant meal out, with baby in tow.
Our daughter is 2 1/2 months old, so we don't really have a strategy yet. She's not a fan of her carrier, though, so one of us usually ends up holding her while we eat. Let's just say that we're becoming masters of one-handed eating!
Erin, Cecil, Pennsylvania
Location, Location, Location
Ask for a table near the back of the restaurant where there's less foot traffic -- we all know that toddlers love playing on the floor! And don't rely on the restaurant to entertain your kids. Take plenty of activities with you (coloring books, small toys, etc.), and keep them in a bag, bringing them out one by one as needed.
Kristi, Peoria, Arizona
We try to have our 1-year-old's plastic spoon and fork with us at all times. And we always take a place mat that sticks to the table. We also make sure to have disposable bibs with us -- and lots of toys (since she gets bored very easily). With our 2-1/2-year-old, as long as we take her sippy cup and utensils, she's good to go.
Christina, Warsaw, Indiana
Schedule a Power Nap
If we're going out to dinner, I put my daughter down for a second nap around 4:30 or 5 p.m. And I always take her baby food with us, along with her bib and spoon. Now if only I could get her to stop babbling at the top of her lungs!
Sarah, Tomball, Texas
Take your baby's favorite toy with you, and make sure the kids order their food as soon as the waitress comes to take your drink order. Then, midway through the meal when the waitress asks you how everything's going, ask her for the check -- this way, if your kids become restless, you can pay and leave ASAP.
Maria, North Providence, Rhode Island
Pack a Snack
My daughter will be 1 this month, and she usually eats whatever we do. Just to be safe, I always make sure I have crackers and her juice cup with us too. She's well behaved and loves to watch everyone around her. The only problem: she makes a big mess -- so we're always on cleanup duty before we leave.
Heather, Chilton, Wisconsin
The Early Bird Special
We plan our outings around our daughter's "best time of day" -- which is usually before 5 p.m. Any later, and she gets cranky and difficult to manage. So now we're learning to schedule breakfast or brunch dates with friends and family. For dinners, we get a sitter!
Carri, Sacramento, California
Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2007.