Eating out can be a fantastic experience for little ones. They get the opportunity to build their social skills, practice table manners and try new foods as well. While i do think it’s important to take your children out it can be a daunting experience.
BEFORE YOU GO OUT
• Pick restaurants with a buzzing atmosphere, plenty of chat, noise and clatter that way children can make noise without you feeling embarrassed.
• Eat early as the kitchen should be quieter and your not in the way for people wanting a more romantic scene.
• I always look at menus online before I go, so I know and can quickly order.
• Practice at home first. Role play good choices like sitting still, using utensils and waiting patiently.
• Respect your children’s attention span. Waiting for a meal in a busy restaurant can be tough for hungry adults too, but remember that kids have a shorter attention span than we do.
• Bring activities to keep them busy. When eating out with young kids, bring colouring books or puzzles and games to keep kids occupied while they wait for food. I try to do simple games like “I Spy” or “Simon Says.” And use my phone as a final resource!
DURING THE MEAL
• If the kids’ menu only offers beige, deep-fried foods that provide little in terms of nutritional value and flavour, I tend to go for starters for the children or you ask if the restaurant can make up a child’s portion of an adult meal.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The waiting staff should be able to tell you where the meat, fish, milk and eggs on the menu come from and if the food has been freshly prepared on site.
• If your child has a food allergy always mention this before ordering. Even if you have dined at the same place before and as recipes may change.
• If your children are complaining, ask for a bread basket or nibbles to keep hunger at bay until your meal arrives.
• Ask for an extra side plate to allow food to cool down quicker and share food around if needed.
• Encourage children to taste other dishes and experience new flavours, from your own plate. Eating out can be an exciting opportunity for kids to try new foods, especially when everyone else is enjoying them too.
• Include your child in conversations – eating out is a great social experience, it also will promote them to adopt this type of behaviour in the future.
• Fresh fruit is always the most nutritious dessert option. However, sometimes special occasions call for a treat and this is the time I let the children choose what they want.
Positive food experiences from an early age can really help to develop a love for food that can last a lifetime and sets the tone for future outings too. My final advice would be to practise, practice, practice! The more chances your kids have, the better they’ll get at it.
Much love Rebecca