Baby Led Weaning at Restaurants
If you’re new to baby led weaning or have never tried venturing out with your baby, you might be wondering how eating out actually works!
The biggest factor is the child him or herself! If you have a calm and cooperative baby, it might be pretty easy. I have a few friends whose babies are really chill and easy to take out! Then there are other babies who must be entertained in some way or they freak out! I’m somewhere in the middle. Alexander doesn’t scream or freak out but we also keep him “entertained”. And he does fine once the food arrives. (Note: We don’t bring toys or electronics. We let him shake a packet of salt, let him play with a spoon, or give him sips of water through a straw, which he loves.)
So I’ve got a few tips for you, if you’re considering going out to eat with your baby:
1. Don’t go during prime hours (if you can help it). I wouldn’t take my baby out to eat at 6:00 PM on a Friday night. Why? Well, it is likely more crowded. And your food will probably take longer to arrive.
2. Check out the menu ahead of time. If the menu is online somewhere, check it out before you go. It will cut down on the time you are just sitting at the table. If your baby is a little more …. spirited …. it will be harder for you to stare and concentrate on the menu. (From experience, I’ve ordered several random things because the waitress came back, and I hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu! So I picked the first thing that jumped off the page.) Also, looking ahead, you’ll be able to decide what you can order that your baby can enjoy, too.
3. Don’t stress out about a well-rounded meal. If you’re out to eat and can’t find whole grains or green veggies or the perfect side dish, don’t sweat it. One meal that’s “off diet” isn’t the end of the world.
- Most restaurants can provide some vegetables as a side dish. If you ask, they can probably prepare them with no salt.
4. Be prepared for mess. If your baby makes a mess at home, he’ll make a mess out to eat. I suggest placing one or two pieces of food in front of your baby at a time. After the meal, pick up the large pieces that are on the floor (it takes about 10-20 seconds!). In the times we’ve eaten out, a server usually tells us not to worry about it.
5. Clean the table first. We have not purchased a tray to put on the table (like this one), so instead we use a clean rag with water or a baby wipe to clean off the table. And at first, we just put his food directly on the table. Now that he is better with a plate, we put his food on a small plate in front of him.
6. Always have a bail plan. This may not sit well with some folks. We have always had the plan that, if Alexander just loses his mind and starts crying a lot, we’ll leave. (We have done that once in the past year.) Some folks might say that’s letting baby have too much control over your life. If that’s you, ignore this tip. For us, it makes everyone’s life a little easier if we just leave. So we get the check as soon as we know we aren’t going to order anything else. If it means we take all the food to go, that’s what we plan to do. But, like I said, that has happened once, and it was when we were waiting for over an hour for our food, close to bedtime!
So, do you have any tips for eating out with your baby?