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Restaurant Baby

Deciding to go out to a restaurant with a little one in tow is always a little bit of a gamble since a meltdown could happen at anytime and sometimes with very little warning. No matter how well you know your baby, always be prepared to quickly wrap up the meal and (hopefully) take whatever is left to-go. That being said, if you are planning a meal at an expensive restaurant and/or a lengthy multi-course affair – you might want to consider splurging for a babysitter since even if your little one is just a bit fussy it could ruin the meal for you as well as your fellow diners.

Thus, unless you have the quietest most predictable baby in the world (i.e. one in a million) – your days of fine-dining are over, unless you get a sitter. That being said, you do not have to be relegated to eating at crappy fast food joints or kid-oriented dining establishments with, at best, mediocre food. If you are willing (and like to gamble), it still is possible to enjoy some very nice meals, particularly with the trend of chefs forgoing michelin stars to open more casual eateries. You should still however be prepared to terminate a meal quickly if the babe doesn’t settle, since it isn’t really fair to the people around you if the babe is being disruptive.

When choosing a nicer dining establishment with the BBV in tow, we always call to reserve and inquire whether having a baby would be a problem. We also book early – whenever the restaurant first opens since it is usually much quieter then and thus we are less likely to disturb other patrons. The noisier the restaurant the better, since in some noisier restaurants, even when the BBV was fussing, it didn’t bother anyone because you couldn’t hear her over the background din. Generally speaking, most asian restaurants and casual restaurant/bars are relatively noisy and it is not a problem to have the BBV. Ideally, you time the meal with your babe’s nap time but again that doesn’t always work out.

If your baby loves the car seat – you are golden because you can plop her in it during the meal. Even better, if the restaurant can accommodate a stroller, you can time the meal so that you stroller over to the restaurant, the babe falls asleep and then you park the sleeping baby in the stroller right beside you. Remember to bring a blanket to cover the stroller and keep out the lights of the restaurant. If your babe is bothered by noises you can also try to slip some headphones on her while she is a deep sleep.

The BBV doesn’t like her car seat so many times I ended up putting her in the ergo carrier and wearing her while eating at the table. This obviously works better with carriers where the baby faces inwards. Wearing her in the ergo also allowed me to quickly pop out of the restaurant and take a quick walk around to settle her if she got fussy. You just have to be really careful not to drop any hot food on the BBV. I waited until the food was cooled before attempting to eat it. Since no matter how careful I was, somehow crumbs always got in the BBV’s hair.

-go to the restaurant during lunch (when it is more casual) or early dinner
-time the meal with nap time
-if you are making a reservation, ask if it is okay to have a baby
-if your baby is sensitive to noise, consider getting baby headphones to block out the noise
-always be prepared to terminate the meal quickly
-bring you baby carrier and/or car seat
-if your baby takes a bottle, bring some milk/formula – this has done the trick for us particularly when the BBV is too distracted to breastfeed (which has gotten worse as she has become older and more aware)

1 Comment

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jen Laceda // Oct 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I have two little girls (3 y.o and 6-month old), so I totally understand how it feels to go to a restaurant with them in tow + my camera…I also use my Ergo because my youngest one doesn’t like to be left in the car seat.

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