Having a baby doesn’t mean you can’t visit your favourite cafés, pubs and restaurants. In fact, exploring new places and surroundings can be good for your little one, as they get used to the big, wide world around them.
Though, it’s understandable if you’re feeling nervous about eating out with a baby. Whether you’re brunch-mad or love a family lunch at the pub on Sundays, read our six top tips and make meals out with your infant simple.
6 Tips for Eating Out with a Baby
1) Reserve a Table
Wherever you’d like to go for your favourite meal, it’s a good idea to call ahead and book a table. Ask to reserve a space in a child-friendly area, so you won’t feel like you’re disturbing the other diners.
You can also ask if there are any ways out near your table, so you can make a quick exit if your little one needs settling down. It’s also worth checking your venue of choice has the right facilities, so you have a comfortable space to change your baby.
2) Walk to the Venue
Many babies sleep better after a breath of fresh air, so take a stroll to the venue with your little one. By the time you arrive, your infant is more likely to be soothed and relaxed, giving you the chance to enjoy your dinner without interruption. And if you’re really lucky, your baby might even sleep through the entire meal.
Plus, if you do walk to the eatery, there’s no need to juggle your fork and your baby all at once. Simply take your little one in their pushchair, so they already have a comfortable seat at the ready.
3) Stay Casual
Young babies aren’t quite ready for white tablecloths and candles, so you need to save the fine-dining restaurants for date nights. But that doesn’t mean you’re relegated to fast food emporiums with only burgers on the menu.
When eating out with a baby, choose child-friendly, casual locations, such as pubs or cafés, which normally welcome families and their inevitably louder noise levels. If you’re not sure, check the menu online – if they have kids’ options, you’re usually good to go!
4) Be Prepared
Those days of just bringing your cash, cards and lipstick are over. When you’re getting restaurant-ready with a baby, you need to bring your infant’s essentials with you, too.
First, get prepared by ticking off everything on our changing bag checklist. Think extra nappies, creams, wipes – whatever you’d usually need for a trip out with your little one.
Second, you’ll need to pack the right kind of food for your baby. Of course, younger infants only need either breast or formula milk. But if your tot is older than six months and eating solid foods, pack their favourite snacks, so your child doesn’t feel like they’re missing out. Older babies will additionally need some kind of entertainment, such as paper and crayons, a book or a cuddly toy.
5) Baby’s Fed First
Younger babies need a lot of care and attention, but they mostly need one of two things: feeding or changing. So, to avoid a cry-a-thon, make sure your little one is fed and changed before ordering your meal. Hopefully, your tot will stay relaxed until you’ve finished. And if you’ve already moved onto the weaning stage, you might be able to give your baby a bite or two!
Of course, babies are very unpredictable. You can’t guarantee they’ll settle, even after being fed and changed. With that in mind, when eating out with a baby, it’s a good idea to order a dish served cold, like a salad or sandwich. That way, you can manage your meal while looking after your little one at the same time.
6) Stick to the Routine
If your infant has settled into a bedtime routine, try and stick to it. This might involve going for an earlier dinner than you normally would, but it also means you won’t have an overtired, grumpy baby!
Though, if you’re going out for a special occasion or a big family event, mixing up your tot’s routine could be unavoidable. In this situation, encourage a late-afternoon nap, so your baby will hopefully stay up later and let you enjoy the meal.