How to Make Sure Eating Out with the Kids is a Positive Experience


Eating out with young children can be hard. Actually, eating out with children of any age can be tough. Where little ones might make a mess and refuse to eat, older kids and teens might not want to go out with you, which can have a big impact on everyone’s mood and enjoyment.

But eating out as a family can, and should, be a positive experience. It’s a great chance to spend some time together away from the stresses of home life, it can help you to turn a short trip out into a fun family day, and it’s a wonderful way to help your family to form a healthy and positive relationship with food, seeing it as something to nourish their souls as well as their bodies.

If meals out so far have been more than a little stressful, here are some things that you might want to try.

Introduce New Flavours Gradually

Remember, while the food is obviously an important part of eating out, it’s not everything. The experience is as much about the atmosphere, company, and conversation. Pushing your children to try new things could make them uncomfortable. Avoid overwhelming them by letting them order their favourites and encouraging them to try little bits of your meals to start experiencing new tastes and foods.

Try New Foods at Home First

If you want to try something completely new, like going to an Indian restaurant, then it can be a good idea to start with a takeaway from at home. Order a range of foods and let them taste as much as possible so it’s less overwhelming in the restaurant.

Pack the Essentials

When your children are very young, you might find that not every restaurant has the things that they need to enjoy their meals. It’s always a good idea to pack a plate, kids’ cutlery, a cup, and anything else that will make them feel more comfortable, as well as bibs and wipes.

Some restaurants will offer a colouring pack or other entertainment, but not all, so packing a few colouring pencils and sheets can be a great idea.

Eat at the Right Times

Try to eat out at quieter times, avoiding lunch and dinner time rushes. It’ll be quieter and less overwhelming, you’ll get more attention from staff, and you won’t feel rushed to finish your meals.

Get Into Good Eating Habits at Home

Eating at a table, all sitting down together, and banning devices from mealtimes at home can mean that eating out doesn’t seem as strange. Practice good table manners as a family, and make sure you are sticking to any rules too.

Give Them Options

Children like to feel grown-up and important. So let them look at their own menu, helping if they need it, and decide what they want to eat. Make suggestions but try to give them options and the freedom to choose.

Let Your Standards Slide

Most of us at some point before we had kids said we’d never let them play on phones or tablets in restaurants. But being in adult company isn’t always that much fun. Ask yourself if you really mind them playing a game that much, or if it’s really so different from entertaining them with a colouring pad. If you really don’t want screens, make sure you give them plenty of attention.

Eating out as a family can be great fun, and you’ll probably find the more you do it, the easier it becomes.