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We have entered a new realm in the Smith Household.

Behold: Toddlerhood

Ok, so technically, Nugget’s not a toddler yet (one week away) but it’s close enough. And I definitely noticed a considerable change in her habits during this last week.

I used to eat out with Nugget all the time with no problems. When she was itty bitty, we’d simply hold her and go about our meal. At 6 months, we started BLW (baby led weaning) and eating was an absolute BLAST! (To read more about why I love BLW, click here.) We’d bring along our own high chair (yes, we are THOSE parents!) and Nugget would happily eat right alongside us.

(By the way, here is my favorite high chair of all time):

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07/18/2024 02:24 am GMT

I love this chair so much because it’s lightweight, portable, and comes with a tray! Most restaurant high chairs are the wooden kind that have no tray. They are so low to the ground that you’re lucky if baby’s eyes come up to the table!

Anyway.

Then…toddlerhood happened.

Nugget’s not really interested in eating unless she’s really hungry. At this point, she’s much more interested in walking and being mobile.

Here’s what I discovered this week during our two (mis)adventures during restaurant dining:

  • You may offer the food as usual…but the nugget may or may not partake. At restaurant #1, Nugget sat in her high chair and ate several bites of food for about 15 minutes. Not bad! At restaurant #2, she wouldn’t even look at the high chair and ate zero bites.
  • If baby wants down, she wants DOWN. Is this what it would be like to wrestle an octopus??? I really didn’t want her walking around the restaurant but found that I had little choice in the matter. I ended up putting her down so she could walk around.
  • It really does take a village. Thank goodness during both meals, I was out with two other people. I’m all for doing things solo with baby and not having to rely on others in order to live your life…except maybe restaurant dining. With an almost toddler. My friends ended up following Nugget around the restaurant while I fervently shoveled food into my mouth. Then we switched places. Thankfully, most of the patrons were either nonexistent (at one restaurant) or somewhat understanding (although I think one man got annoyed) of a toddler wobbling around their personal eating space. It is so stressful! On the one hand, you don’t want to be THAT PARENT who lets their child run amok in public…but then again, what choice do you have? You’ve already ordered. You are seated. The food is in front of your face. You’re in knee deep already. No choice but to plow ahead.
  • You might have to leave. At one point, Nugget was very unhappy and quite vocal about it, so I scooped her up and headed straight for the front door. I let my dad and friend eat in peace while Nugget and I paced the sidewalk out front. After a while, she calmed down and we were able to go back in.
  • You might have to lower your personal standards of sanitation. At restaurant #2, Nugget would not eat a single bite. She also would not sit in the high chair or even on my lap. The alternative? The floor. It was a humbling moment for me to see my child sitting on a restaurant floor. Yes, I had become THAT PARENT. Me, who washes my hands compulsively 50 times per day. Me, who showers religiously and wipes things down and washes my LO’s hands after she touches dirt…Me, who lays a blanket down over every single public diaper changing station…I had resigned myself to the fact that this was my new normal. Nugget was happy and content, emptying the contents of my diaper bag onto the floor. Meanwhile, I was able to shovel a few more forkfuls into my mouth. It was a win-win for all.
  • You might have to whip out the toys or “restaurant bags” you put together ahead of time.
  • You might have to tip extra. The scene on the floor was akin to a crime scene…I would normally try to clean most of it up myself but since bending down is extra challenging for me, I try to leave a nicer tip.

Ideas for restaurant bags:

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07/17/2024 03:11 pm GMT
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07/18/2024 01:12 pm GMT

My take away from these two experiences is that our restaurant bound days may be on hiatus for a while. It simply isn’t worth the stress for me. Hats off to those who brave the cafes and diners with their littles. I think we’ll be eating at home or carrying out for a while!

 

Happy eating!

 

 

 

How to Eat at a Restaurant with an Almost Toddler