There is no place for “Tough Love” in Restaurants.
Restaurant Tips for parents of children under 4 years old.
Last night I dined at a nice restaurant in the Lake George/Saratoga area. A father of a crying eighteen-month old said in a harsh tone “be quiet – enough already”! From that moment on, the crying escalated and there was nothing the poor mother could do about it… or was there?
Here are my tips, as a mother of three little children:
- First rule of dining with little ones — know which restaurants are appropriate. Don’t torture yourself by bringing an infant or toddler into an upscale restaurant unless you know you and your infant very well, and know that you both can handle it.
- Don’t panic or overreact. Most diners understand that children cry and will be understanding for a few minutes. After five minutes however, even the most patient mother of 3-5 children will want to come over, pick up your child and rock them and take them for a walk outside the restaurant (something you should seriously consider).
- Have a set of small “restaurant toys” that are NOT used everyday such as small Disney toys, bright simple books, a travel magnadoodle, or crayons and coloring book.
- For small babies, don’t forget the obvious: Check their diaper, nurse or bottlefeed, cuddle your baby close, hum a favorite tune, gently rock, wrap them in their favorite blankie that was hidden in the purse just for this moment. No matter what, keep your tone upbeat and soothing, never harsh.
- Use your imagination! Play I Spy, Peekaboo, Itsybitsy spider, this little piggy, pattycake…
- Bring a small baggy of cheerios, a favorite drink in a bottle or sippy cup (or even two).
- Take them for a walk if they are getting antsy. Take your children for a “quiet tour” of the areas where diners are not eating.
- A change of temperature and scenery works magic: Take them outside quickly if they are crying. This works best if the weather is cooler outside, but only stay outside for a minute. Make sure they will not be too cold, just a mild change of atmosphere is perfect.
- If you aren’t against the occasional lollipop, this works wonders when age appropriate, as their mouth is busy for many minutes.