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5 Tips To Keep Your Toddler Behaved At A Restaurant

Dining out with your toddler can be daunting task if you’ve never experienced it before. One day you’ve got a happy baby that doesn’t fuss while dining out and the next day you’ve got a grumpy toddler who wants to make noise. I promise this is just another phase to push past, but I know it can be difficult for parents who enjoy dining out. After raising three boys, here are my BEST tips to keep your toddler behaved at a restaurant.

Tips and tricks to keep your toddler entertained, at a restaurant, so you can enjoy dining out as a family!


The toddler period is an unpredictable one. You never know if they’re going to lean towards being more independent or revert to more baby ways. Each day is a toss up and sometimes you don’t know what to expect. Taking all of that unpredictable emotion out to dinner and it’s tough to stay sane.

I’ve got you covered though – with tips to help you come prepared and actually enjoy your experience dining out. Moms deserve some great meals and hiring a babysitter isn’t always at your disposal.

I’m also of the mentality that kids need to learn how to behave when dining out and that means starting them when they’re young. Training your children to be better behaved, in a restaurant, at such an early age, will translate to well-mannered teens.

How To Have A Well-Behaved (And Happy) Toddler At A Restaurant

The first thing to know is that you’re not alone. Most people have raised kids and understand the toddler phase, even if it was years ago. Dine out in confidence with your kids and do your best to control the situation, knowing you can’t control everything. When I realized that, I felt so much better about our family outings.

Family Dining out Tips

Go For Family-Friendly Restaurants

Price range doesn’t always dictate if a restaurant is family-friendly. I look for a restaurant that has a kids menu. Small coffee houses and high-end restaurants aren’t kid-friendly. If they don’t even have high chairs, then they don’t want your business.

A loud restaurant can work in your favor. Don’t shy away from restaurants with louder atmospheres, casual outdoor dining and live music. Oftentimes, that’s a great restaurant atmosphere for young kids. They can make noise without bothering anyone.

Keep Your Toddler Behaved At A Restaurant By Using Favorable Times

If you know your child goes to bed by 6pm, don’t book a meal at 5:30. Make dining reservations for hours that work with their natural schedule. I know my child cannot go out to eat past 7pm and it’s too much trouble to wait for a table beyond 20 minutes.

If you know those situations are stressful for your family, then try to work around it by picking different times. The last thing I want to do is wait a long period of time, for a table, with a toddler. It already sets me up for a frustrated experience.

how to keep your kids behaved at a restaurant

Come Prepared To Entertain

Clear the area in front of your child’s high chair. Make sure that drinks and shakers aren’t nearby where they can reach. Substitute those items for things that your child can play with. Soft books, squishy toys and chunky crayons are all great travel-friendly items you can pack in your diaper bag.

Reiterate The Tone You Want Your Toddler To Use

Be an example and show them what an “inside voice” sounds like. Reiterate the volume level that you want them to use so they begin to understand it through repetition.

Order Your Child’s Meal With Your Drinks

Toddlers are naturally slower eaters than adults. Take advantage of this by ordering their food immediately. I like to order my toddler’s meal when we order drinks. They’re much more likely to be happy, if they’re fed. Finger foods double as entrainment because they have to put in more effort to eat them. 

how to keep your toddler behaved at a restaurant

Lastly, don’t get frustrated and don’t give up. Teaching your children will take time. Keep taking them out to eat because they’ll get used to the process of waiting and being patient. Kids who don’t dine out regularly have a harder time when they finally get out. Every parent was once in your shoes, give yourself some grace!

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