Fine…er Dining With Your Child!

I’m not exactly scared to eat at a restaurant; The Bee is a pretty good restaurant patron after all. He haphazardly eats his way through pretty much anything we throw at him, smiles and babbles on cue to waitresses and at the end of the meal, we just sweep up what the floor wouldn’t eat and we’re on our merry little way. However, I just don’t want to turn into that family. You know what I’m talking about! So I try to be well armed!

Let’s take a look at my arsenal, shall we?

First: The Blockade

I’m a huge, HUGE fan of the Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat! Not only is it extremely portable, but it fits in every booth I’ve ever tried. I’m always scared of The Bee pushing off with his leg(s)s on the side of the table when he’s in a high chair, so the ability to have him sit next to me in the booth or strap his booster on to a chair has been so handy! Not to mention the tray is placed perfectly so that any food that doesn’t quite make it from the table into baby’s mouth will land on the tray.

If the Fisher Price booster is not in your arsenal, you’d do quite well with a shopping cart cover/high chair cover on the high chairs (it’s not necessary, but you don’t know what’s on those chairs…a little barrier gives me a little piece of mind).  You may also want to couple it with a placemat you can put on the floor too.

Next in the arsenal is the Summer Infant Tiny Diner Placemat. I often question the cleanliness of the cloth that has wiped down my table, so I find that this provides a safe eating place for The Bee. Plus, the little pocket’s nice in case food should escape the confines of your kiddo’s hands (darn that pincer grasp!)

Also, part of the blockade is moving everything and anything away from your little soldier/soldierette. Little hands have quite the reach!

Next: Smoke Screen

Never go into battle without some sort of distraction for your kiddo while you wait for your food to arrive. Depending on the age and temperament of your little one, it may be as easy as crackers (The Bee is quite demanding of having snacks while seated, even though he KNOWS that we’ll be eating soon, otherwise he hates being in his seat and WILL be quite vocal about it) or you need something a bit more substantial. Enter Modern Twist’s Kidz Placemats! These placemats come in a variety of interesting scenes and have quite the artistic flare to them. Best of all, you can use washable or dry erase markers to color on the placemat. Say goodbye to the games on the kid’s menu that end almost as soon as they begin! If your budding artiste is finished coloring, simply wipe and have them start over again! A new masterpiece every time!

Now that your defenses are up…Bring on the Weapons of Food Destruction!!!

When dining out, I highly recommend bringing a Disposable Bib. These work in a jiffy and should your kiddo totally go crazy on their Mac ‘n’ Cheese, you won’t have to deal with the aftermath in your diaper bag (although…I suppose that’s why there’s always a couple extra plastic baggies with me). Same thing goes for Disposable Utensils.

We try to choose food that we can easily piece into bite sized pieces to occupy The Bee while I eat my food (because lucky me, I always seem to get in the line of fire between food and The Bee). I’m sure once he gets the hang of feeding himself with a spoon, then we can move on to other foods. But he enjoys fruit, pancakes, grilled cheese, pieces of chicken and soft veggies. I think he tries to play a game with them…double fisting the enemy until they can be delivered safely into the prison that is his mouth.

Lastly, No Man Gets Left Behind (on your kiddo)!

The epic battle has ended and your kiddo emerges victorious, with the spoils of war evident All. Over. Their. Face. And. Hands. This sort of clean up requires something BIG. Bring in Wet Ones Big Ones. These antibacterial wipes are 40% larger and 20% thicker and can get the job done. They are also handy for wiping down the surfaces of your arsenal to prepare them for the next battle.

I can’t say you will win the war every time, but at least you’ll be prepared to launch into the trenches in any restaurant!

Finally, did you know that some restaurants offer a baby plate? It’s free! One of my all time favorite restaurants (Love you Claim Jumper!) offers applesauce, a turkey slice, mandarin oranges and cheese with their baby plate so I never hesitate to ask these days if they have one.

– Contributed by Ann