Taking a toddler out to dinner can be a fun, but also very stressful experience. Taking a toddler out to dinner who has allergies, oral aversions, and sensory issues… Well let’s just say the thought of it exhausted me for a long time. When he threw up not once, but THREE times at one of our favorite family friendly dining spots – I thought our days of eating outside the home were numbered.
My son has FPIES and sensory processing disorder, the two of these combined means that eating has become a challenge for him, let alone eating at a restaurant. However, with a few tips, and some time we have actually been able to have quite a few successful family dinners in public. With all the recent press about kids and dining out, I thought I’d share a few mom tips that have worked for my family when it comes to dining out with a toddler.
Pack Your Own Food. Yes, I realize you are going to a restaurant, but I have found that by bringing some foods that we know our toddler loves – like these awesome and convenience organic Sprout pouches, we are able to fend off any meltdowns that may happen due to waiting, or if he just isn’t happy with what I ordered for him to eat.
Both my boys have had and enjoyed Sprout pouches and snacks. They tend to be my go-to for convenient pouches. I know the quality is always good and the ingredients are organic which is important to me. You can find these Sprout Organic Baby & Toddler Purees at many retailers – we got ours at Albertsons which is where I always stock up on them when there is a sale. Plus they are organic and made with fun ingredients which both my boys love.
Bring an activity pouch. This has been something I have carried around with me since my oldest was a toddler. I love having this for dining out or even unexpected issues/delays when you are stuck in a place you weren’t expected to be. I try to swap out the toys and coloring sheets for their current favorites to keep things exciting. Included in my activity pouch is:
- Printed Coloring/Activity Sheets – Currently the favorites are superhero coloring pages or mazes. (I print them from my computer so I can keep current with their new favorite characters/show, but also so the back is blank for other activities.)
- Tape – To tape the paper to the table so they don’t have to worry about holding it down or it falling on the ground.
- Toys – Small characters or cars. Depending on the type or restaurant we use the salt/pepper shakers and sugars to make obstacle courses for the cars. On the blank side of the paper we often draw roads to race on as well!
- Crayons/colored pencils
- Small set of memory matching cards.
Don’t Forget the Tablet. Yes, I realize this one is not a favorite of everyone, but when all else fails sometimes his favorite game or favorite show is enough to let the rest of us enjoy our food and some quick conversation.
Pick a Family-Friendly Restaurant. Think loud, casual, and fun. There will come a time when your kids grow up and you will be able to go back to your favorite places as a family, but picking a place that is used to accommodating children let’s your kid learn to dine in public without the pressure you might feel from other diners.
Be Ready to Walk Around or Even Leave. When all the above fails, chalk it up to a learning experience and be ready to move. This could mean taking turns eating food while one adult walks outside or around the waiting area with your toddler, or this could mean asking for to-go boxes and calling it quits. Dining out with toddlers can be hit or miss. While I believe it should be done to help them learn how to act in public or in different environments, I refuse to do it at the expense of someone else’s meal. If your toddler just can’t hang that day – it’s okay to try another time, but don’t leave them to scream and fuss while you try to slam you meal down. My toddler often needs to get up and roam around, and you can usually find us at the door greeting other customers as they come in to dine. He loves waving and saying Hi to everyone.
Do you have any other tips for dining out with young children? Let me know. Be sure to check out Sprout complete line of Toddler and Baby food products to learn more about the company!
And please enjoy this coupon as well! It’s good for any Albertsons or Harris Teeter location.
$1 Off 2 Sprout® Baby/Toddler food products! – Get Coupon!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sprout® Organic Baby Foods. The opinions and text are all mine.
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