Anyone with little ones knows dining out is not always easy. Some places don't have high chairs or if they do your child is on the end of the table where waiters and watresses are serving and people are walking. But, dining away from home with little ones couldn’t be easier with Cozy Cover’s Easy Seat. The Easy Seat portable seat converts any seat into a safe, comfortable seating for your baby or little one and fits right in your handbag. No matter if you're going to a restaurant or eating at grandma and grandpa's house, it’s the dining out must have! Plus Cozy Cover’s Founder & Parenting Expert Mike Locker shares his favorite dining out tips for families.
1. Come prepared. Don’t expect an interruption free evening. Be equipped to tend to your child’s needs so adult interaction can happen. Provide activities and treats for children to occupy their attention. Pack a bag of crayons and paper, or little toys that can be played with at the table and snacks to munch while waiting for their food.
2. Strap children in. Don’t be frustrated with kids for getting in and out of their chair, because they weren’t strapped in. Bring a booster or borrow one from the restaurant that can keep kids safe and down. Keep in mind, a child who can stand and wiggle in their high chair is not a safe child. Make sure the seat is secure, stable and safe. (Hint: Many restaurant high chairs do not have working straps; bring a belt to use as a substitute strap just in case.) Another idea is to bring your own seat system such as the Easy Seat by Cozy-Cover. It fits easily into a diaper bag and provides a safe, comfortable and secure way for your little one to sit at the “big kids” table.
3. Choose a kid-friendly restaurant. And truthfully, the louder the better. It isn’t necessary to always dine at Chuck-E-Cheese or TGI Friday, but choose a restaurant where kids are welcome and will feel comfortable. Booths are the perfect place to corner your child in, but also provide space for them to play and move around a bit.
4. Keep the table clear around your child. Ask for plastic glasses and keep sharp silverware out of their reach. Babies will smack the table and toddlers will spill if items are left in reach. The less contact they have with items on the table the better.
5. Plan the meal around toddlers’ schedules. Don’t take children out when they should be napping or over their bedtime, they will fuss and ruin the dining experience. Try to plan the meal around their normal mealtime. Adhering to their normal routine will help keep them calm, and will result in a better outing.
6. Don’t dawdle. Don’t plan a leisurely dinner to sit and catch up on old times over appetizers and dessert. Be prepared to order immediately and keep things moving. Once babies or toddlers get bored (or finish eating) they will be ready to go. Once the food has arrived, it’s advised to ask for the check so you’re ready to leave quickly if necessary.
7. Go over rules ahead of time. During the meltdown in the restaurant is not the time to be disciplining and reminding children of their manners and rules. Review expectations with children in the car on the way to the restaurant or before leaving home.
8. Let loose a little. Eating out should be a fun reward. Don’t chastise children about not eating their vegetables or cleaning their plate. Take a moment to compliment them on their behavior if merited and order them a treat. The more fun your child has, the more enjoyable the experience will be for everyone.
9. Treat your wait staff well. Make nice with the waiters and waitresses right off. They are the ones who’ll get you ideal seating, bring extra crackers or juice and must clean up all your child drops when you leave. Don’t forget to leave a good tip!
10. Pack an extra dose of patience for yourself. Eating out can be fun, but it can also be stressful. Set reasonable expectations, and hopefully everyone will go home happy.
About Mike Locker & Cozy Cover
Mike Locker is the founder of Cozy Cover—innovative parenting solutions for on-the-go families including the Cozy Cover infant carrier cover for all seasons. Cozy Cover protects baby from rain, snow, wind, sun and bugs. The Easy Seat portable seat converts any chair into a safe and secure high chair. The On-the-Go Changing Pad with pockets to hold all the necessities to give baby a quick change in a germ free environment. The entire collection is designed to protect your precious cargo no matter if you’re out in the weather elements or out to dinner.
Easy Seats are available at cozy-cover.com. You can follow Cozy Cover on Facebook and Pinterest.
I was provided a Cozy Cover’s Easy Seat to review.