Toddlers in a restaurant? How do you make it work in your family?  Here are some great ideas for you.
Toddlers in a restaurant? How do you make it work in your family? Here are some great ideas for you.

Dining Out With Children & Finicky Eaters

© Common Sense Parenting with Auntie Artichoke

Dear Auntie Artichoke

We are working parents who eat out a couple of times a week and when our son was a baby it was fine, but now he is a toddler and it is no fun for anyone in the restaurant. Help?

Dear Working Mom

You are so right.  I love kids and usually enjoy being around them, but not when they are screaming hysterically or throwing silverware on the floor.  Here are some tips from other working families;

  • Have a few games on your Ipad that your child is only allowed to play when he is sitting down.
  • Have a bag of pipe cleaners in your purse and help him make figures and letters out of them. We used this one in church and the kids actually heard more when their fingers were occupied.
  • One family brought an etch-a-sketch that was only used at restaurants.
  • For a toddler in a high chair, put a few ice cubes on the tray.  Be careful they don’t put them in their mouth and swallow them.
  • Bring along some small quiet toys or books.
  • Order an appetizer so they will have something in their belly.
  • Ask for a table or booth in the back of the room so there is not quite so much stimulation.

And here is a big one!  How about including them in the conversation, without allowing them to monopolize it? The more you talk, sing and read to your baby the smarter he will be.  One of the predictors of school success is vocabulary.  So ask him to repeat some of the words you are using and explain what they mean.

Oh yeah, one important thing…leave a big tip if he has scattered soda crackers on the floor or torn open the sugar packets.

Dear Auntie Artichoke

Our kids are so finicky about food.  They want the same old, same old every day and I don’t think they get the proper nutrition. Or even worse, they refuse to eat what is on their plate.

Dear Parents of Picky Eaters

Kids go through growth spurts and sometimes they really don’t need as much food.  As caring adults, we do not want them to grow up with the idea that cleaning the plate is necessary.  Always make sure you are serving reasonable quantities of food that is appropriate for their age and level of hunger.

Serve them much smaller portions and then when they ask for more give them half a serving and tell them they can always have more.  Here are some other ideas:

  • Serve veggies first.  Also most children like frozen vegetables better than canned ones.
  • Make mini-burgers.  Use refrigerator biscuits for hamburger buns.
  • Give only as much as the years in their life.  So three green beans for a three year old. Four corn kernels for a four year old etc.
  • Blend half a box of frozen spinach and add to spaghetti sauce.
  • Put a couple of drops of food coloring in the masked potatoes.
  • Let them eat dinner with toothpicks.

Children have likes and dislikes just like adults.  Just make sure that mealtime a social event that your child looks forward to, not a confrontational event to be avoided.

If you have enjoyed these tips, you will want to claim your free eBook at   Judy Helm Wright aka “Auntie Artichoke” is a bestselling author, motivational speaker and wise woman with a global message of respect, responsibility and resilience.

Dining Out With Children & Finicky Eaters