According to a new E! News online story, Jessica Biel feels anxiety about bringing baby Silas to a restaurant. Of course, this story is also an excuse to get her new restaurant, Au Fudge, some publicity.
Do you worry about taking a baby to a restaurant? Our solution was always to try to pick the restaurant and the time carefully, if we could, but also have some backup plans. Here are some more suggestions:
- Look at loudness. It can be your best friend, masking the noise of your kid with the noise of all the other people. But, if you have a baby or child who is sensitive to noise, you need a quieter, calmer place.
- Look at visual appeal. Some restaurants like Chuy’s can be great for some babies who can be mesmerized by all the bling to look at. Other babies would find that bling overwhelming.
- Look for places that are family friendly. You’re not going to a white table cloth place with a baby; you’re just not. Some people might, but the patrons there are not going to be understanding if someone is crying. Those white table cloth places might not even own a high chair or have a kids’ menu. If in doubt, call ahead to see if they are used to having families with people that fit into the younger than 5 demographic. Save that white table cloth experience for when the kids are older and it’s a big deal.
- Plan your escape plan. If the baby starts crying, who is going to get up and walk her out and where is your nearest exit? Know that you might have to take your meal to go.
- Time it well. If your child has the hour of power between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. where all he wants to do is scream, that is not the time to be at the restaurant. Lunch might be a better time for you.
- Plan things to do. That diaper bag should be stocked with toys and snacks. And even if you’re nursing, have a bottle in reserve in case you get seated in a place where you might not feel comfortable, even though it is your right to feed your baby wherever you want.
- Work your way up slowly, but don’t wait too long. Start with going to a casual place, even a fast-food joint, and then work up to a sit-down place. Get your baby used to going places and being in a car seat in the restaurant and later the high chair. Start with times of the day when there is less stress, less people and you will not have to worry about needing to leave through a huge crowd.
- Teach table manners at home, so you’re not asking for a kid to suddenly do something that is foreign to him. If she throws food off the high chair at home, you can’t expect her not to do it at a restaurant.
- Dine with people who love you and won’t pass judgement if junior melts down. That might mean that you start by dining with good friends and not your parents or in-laws. Save that for after you’ve tested the waters.
- If your kid does have a complete meltdown, realize that many people in the room have been right where you are. Address it quickly, but know that most of the diners aren’t angry at you, they’re sympathetic. They are thinking back on their own kids’ meltdowns. And just like them, you’ll one day have a great story to tell your child’s future love interests.
And if you’re looking for a restaurant that has a kids’ menu that goes beyond the mac and cheese, Matthew Odam has these suggestions.