I often talk to other mums who are reticent about eating out with a little one, but my opinion is having a young baby shouldn’t hold you back. Just because he’s not eating out doesn’t mean you can’t! Obviously there are some considerations you have to make, both for you and for other people but if you want to keep eating out then you can.
You still need to feel like you – not just someone’s mum. There was a point at which I was so tied to my breast pump that I felt like I existed just to go around in the cycle of pumping and rocking him and occasionally crying. A new baby is really really hard but you and your partner or family still need to spend quality time together and there’s nothing like a warm comforting meal that someone else has cooked so you don’t have to do the washing up.
You still need to be able to enjoy yourself with friends and feel like you’re not being held back. Don’t neglect yourself out of fear or anxiety.
Here are my Top Tips for Eating out With a Newborn
Choose the Right Restaurant to eat out with a Newborn
- Browse TripAdvisor and search for “baby” in the review box if you want reviews from other mums.
- TripAdvisor has a filter where you can search for restaurants that are child-friendly and suitable for kids!
- When picking a restaurant call ahead and book a table, asking for one with stroller space.
- If a wheelchair can fit to a table with a chair removed – so can a stroller.
- If there’s no space for a stroller you can put a car seat on a chair or even on the table if the chair isn’t safe enough.
- If you’re not having dessert, ask for the bill when the food comes out. This way if baby fusses you’re ready for a quick getaway.
- Check out lunch and early dinner places. It’ll be quieter, you can often get some great prices by eating on an earlier menu and you’ll get home before bedtime.
- Ask on Facebook Groups or Apps such as Mush for recommendations from local mums who know what the best baby-friendly joints are.
- Don’t be afraid to try new places or eat out of your comfort zone.
Pack for everything
- Pack things to keep his attention if needed – pacifier, small toys, I even used a small torch to create patterns on the top of the stroller which captivated him.
- Ensure you have plenty of food (if not breastfeeding) in case he gets hungry, but feed him before you go too.
- Pack plenty of nappies and a change of clothes.
At the Table
- If there is plenty of space ask for a corner table or a table away from other guests. Servers will often seat you close to other guests for their serving convenience – but if you want privacy and not to bother other people then just ask.
- Make sure no knives / forks / anything are within reach of grasping fingers. My son will pull anything into his stroller if he can and if he’s on daddy’s lap everything is going to get grabbed – so move the water far far back!
If all hell breaks loose
- Be prepared to take a break from the meal to go for a walk or step outside.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for an early bill.
- If you have leftovers ask for them to go, no need to waste food even if you have to rush off.
- If it doesn’t work out, don’t stress about it. We’ve all had a bit of failure and sometimes it’s just not the right time. Don’t be put off trying again!
That last one is important. What’s the worst that can happen? You have to leave earlier than usual. That’s it. At times I have had to sit outside with my son whilst my husband finished up and vice versa, because I didn’t want to disturb the other patrons once he’d gotten upset – including at a very memorable time my parents in law insisted we go to a swanky five star restaurant and he had a full screaming fit two minutes in. It was inconvenient, but honestly, it wasn’t the end of the world. So get some friends or family on the line and book a restaurant, go out, have fun and be yourself again.
Later on with a glass of wine… leave a review for the place on TripAdvisor, mentioning any good or bad things about taking a baby there. If your server was particularly helpful try to mention them by name. Use the keyword baby so that other mums can search and make a decision based on that feedback too and that way we can pay it forward and help each other find good places to eat without stressing about bringing a baby.
Let me know in the comments how it went!
You might find these other baby posts useful:
- The COMPLETE guide to baby proofing
- An Emergency visit to A&E with a baby – what’s it like?
- Baby Bath Time
- How to help a baby with a cold
- 5 tips to helping a baby with constipation