Dining out with a baby can be stressful, particularly for a new mum. To help you with your first experiences of dining out with a baby, check out my 5 essentials below to look out for when you and your baby go out.
(This post is sponsored by Child Friendly Dining).
Those of you who know me, or have read my stories before, will know that I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety (which you can read about HERE or HERE). Especially in the early weeks and months after having my son, I was petrified about leaving the house in case he’d have a meltdown. I was particularly afraid of going to cafés where he might cry his LOUD cry. This was challenging, as our mother’s group met weekly at the local café. I so desperately wanted to join in, to chat with the other mummas, to connect over our mutual life of nappies, feeding and sleepless nights. But it was hard – my fear of constant screaming outweighed my desire to socialise for quite some time.
Eventually, my son’s fussiness plateaued and I finally re-entered the land of the living. I started to go to the weekly coffee catch-ups. Some weeks it would take a lot more effort than others, but I was making progress. Once I started going out and about however, I began to realise what an experience it is to dine out with your baby. For the most part, I loved it. I’ve always enjoyed going to cafés and having breakfast or lunch. Now that I was finally more comfortable with leaving the house, I could start to share these experiences with my son. We’ve tried numerous indoor and outdoor dining settings with a variety of friends and family, and these are the essentials I believe you should be looking out for when choosing a venue:
Now that my son is sitting independently, a high chair has been a crucial piece of equipment in out dining-out experience. I have been to several establishments that do not have high chairs, and I can say it makes breakfast/lunch much harder to manage with a squirmy baby, and ultimately, a shorter time we spend out. You’ll be surprised how many venues I’ve been to that don’t have high chairs.
Ample space for prams
There are some really nice, trendy cafés that have great food, but no space to fit a pram. I have a chubby baby, so there is no way I’m carrying him to the café, and then holding him the whole time (especially if they have no high chairs, which seems to be common in these cafés!). No matter how great your food is, if there is no space for my pram I won’t be dining there.
Provisions for bub
One of my best dining-out experiences to date with my son (almost 8 months old) was to a café that brought out his own plastic spoon, serviette and drinking glass. Granted he isn’t at the stage of drinking out of a cup, but it was fabulous to see them considering him as another patron (rather than my add-on). It has made them stand out in my mind as a great establishment. One step further will be (when we get to this stage very very soon) cafés that will make meals specifically for my son (for example, will they make avocado on toast for him?). This will be important for me when choosing somewhere to eat.
Depending on where you are dining, I think a parenting room is a key feature. While you may not see this in most daytime cafés, I think it is important for restaurants, clubs and even pubs to consider these options. If you’re wanting families (especially families with babies) as your patrons, you need to cater for their needs such as random poo explosions which not only WILL happen, but will happen frequently.
This has been the absolute stand-out for me in all the places I’ve eaten. There have been some cafés that contain all of the above, and yet don’t bat an eye when it comes to my son. I have found a favourite café that has all of the above (except the parenting facilities), and they also interacted and played with my son. They didn’t see him as an unwanted, annoying child. They valued him and had fun with him, which made my experience even more pleasant. This is because I didn’t have to worry about him being a nuisance; I wasn’t concerned about him having a meltdown because I wasn’t worried about their reactions. It was a wonderful morning out and I have already started recommending them to my friends.
I’ve found that with these essentials, I am a lot less anxious about going out and dining with my baby. More importantly, I enjoy the experience and can’t wait until we go out next. If you’re wanting to know about some child-friendly establishments in your area, why not check out Child Friendly Dining, a one-stop directory with amazing cafés and restaurants listed for all your needs. Check out their website HERE, Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.
What are your essentials for dining out with bub?