Dear Restaurants – Eating out with toddlers

Hello Restaurants,

Yes it is us. The toddler and I.

I love restaurants and the service for little children. That isn’t sarcasm by the way. It really is. It’s hard eating out with toddlers so it’s great how the service and attention to children has really changed over the years. Actually, how the heck would I know what it was like a few years back. I didn’t have a child then. But I’m pretty sure it’s gotten better over time.

Take for instance all your colouring and activity sheets for kids. I’m sure that’s not that old. Its really therapeutic and I let Little Z have a go too. Just on his half mind. Plus I have to ration the colours so he doesn’t launch them into the plate of a neighbouring table.

I know I probably shouldn’t but I will still ask for a high chair. This is mainly out of a secret hope that they’ll be big enough to trap him for a while. So he doesn’t dart off and run for freedom mid starter. If I’m lucky you have the biggish ones but the crafty little thing can climb out of them very easily and doesn’t hesitate in rocking side to side if it means a quick escape. Any chance you could invest in toddler sized ones? I mean, a non frazzled looking mummy that is willing to come back in future must equal “investment”, right?

I love your menus too as does Little Z, particularly the pasta and noodles. And pizza. It would be great if you had little portions of the adult menu but I know you have to go with the popular choices and luckily there’s usually something he’ll have a nibble of. If he does go for the noodles then you’ll usually find me on the floor later trying to wipe the mess up quickly. I can’t help it. With him loving to mess around with chopsticks it can look like a mini earthquake has hit. Inevitably we usually end up taking his mini meal home as he’s always had around 4 bites. But still.

I have a bit of a problem with some toddler drinks menus though. There’s one particular branded drink that features on a lot of menus. It may as well be labelled “Gummy berry juice” (you remember the cartoon from the 80s?). If you don’t you need to watch Little Z after he’s had one. He is literally bouncing off the walls for hours. It took me a few times to realise what it was but I prefer plain water or apple juice now. But not in a flimsy plastic cup. He gets all excited and squeezes it like a small Arnie. I have to gulp a massive amount down myself before giving it him so that he doesn’t spill it everywhere and I don’t even like apple juice. Or gummy berry juice. Not that it makes me bounce off the walls. I think.

And you know those sweets that you give at the end of the meal. I love those. But these days I try to swipe them quicker than lightning. I’m honestly not deprived or greedy, I just don’t want Little Z to see them, especially the ones that look like slices of rock. You know what would be awesome? If you slipped them to me like you see people slipping a fiver to someone. All slick and discrete. Then you get to give me the sweets, no toddler finds out and I get to munch them in secret later. Win win!

So thank you. From us. The toddler and I. We’ll be back next time. Hopefully he’ll eat a bit more then!


21 thoughts on “Dear Restaurants – Eating out with toddlers”

  1. I know exactly where you’re coming from! Even now it’s a miracle if my kids eat, unless it’s pizza. And they closed our local Pizza Hut! Disaster! But I still love going out to eat with the kids – no cooking and no cleaning! Win.

  2. It can be nice going out can’t it? If it’s somewhere that actually looks after kids. I mostly find the kids menus disappointing though. Chicken nuggets, fish fingers, tomato or cheesy pasta or a pizza. Olivia isn’t a fan of any of those. We tend now to order stuff we will all eat and then ask for a small plate for her. She would much rather have some beef or a bit of curry than pasta.

  3. Brilliant post Tas – always amazes me what restaurants are like with toddlers especially those labelled as child friendly. Always interesting to see POD eat with an adult fork or be presented with ice cream out of a tall desert bowl made of glass! Better still I just love it when the pop my piping hot coffee in front of her as she tries to launch herself across the table. We still use a high chair for exactly that reason – if we didn’t she would run round the restaurant laughing at us!

  4. I wonder if this change is because more people are taking their children to restaurants more. The colouring stuff is fantastic, and the puddings help to keep them still when they are old enough to be out of the high chair.

  5. Restaurants that offer great customer service for their clientele both big and small are the ones that are right on the money, we are very much a going out to eat family and the difference between a great meal that we can enjoy and a not so great experience can very often be put down to how child friendly a place is. #PoCoLo

  6. Seems like u truly know quite a lot pertaining to this specific topic and it exhibits thru this amazing blog,
    titled β€œDear Restaurants – Not My Year Off”.
    Regards -Sherry

  7. This is such a great post. I remember when I was young and, being the eldest of 7, I would inevitably have to entertain the younger ones when we were at a restaurant and my Mum started to learn she would have to take colouring books and crayons every where! Thank goodness we don’t have to do that these days. Plus, there would always be at least 5 trips to the toilets! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  8. Had to laugh. I have a bag of toys that I just take to restaurants or on long car journeys to entertain and provide a bit of novelty. Ironically enough most of them came from a certain restaurant chain initially. Our issue is that anything that isn’t served with chips on a restaurant menu won’t get ordered. He loves chips, but we ration them and because he rarely has them he has to have them when he goes out. That said, I’ve been known to do much the same.

  9. Hehe I love this post πŸ™‚ I wish that more restaurants would just offer smaller versions of adult meals – we should start a campaign πŸ˜‰

  10. Completely agree about the kid sized portions of adult meals, particularly as mine are a bit older. We eat the same food together at home so it just seems strange having a separate menu when we go out. #pocolo

  11. Hi-over to you through #pocolo. Great post-we don’t go out to eat half as much as we used to when Mini was much smaller. It’s a real struggle to keep her entertained and in her seat-she just wants to make a break for it!A real bug bear of mine is when waiters bring starters before Mini’s food-that’s a big no no and it happens more times than I’d like!

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