Going to a restaurant with a toddler can come with it’s own set of problems.
First, you have to deal with the hassle of leaving the house and making it to the restaurant with your sanity in tact.
Secondly, you have to ensure that once you arrive, your toddler doesn’t ruin dinner with a tantrum or by making a mess.
Whatever the case may be, here are some very effective tips to keep your toddler quiet and calm when eating out at your favorite restaurant.
How to Keep Your Toddler Quiet and Calm at a Restaurant
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Toddlers are interesting little creatures, aren’t they?
It’s as if they were born in this world with their own set of rules that you have to figure out without much help on their part.
When you want to plan a peaceful dinner at a restaurant with your family, you may dread the tantrum or mess-making that you are sure to happen once you and your toddler arrives.
So, try these simple strategies to keep your toddler quiet, calm and entertained while enjoying a good meal like you should.
1. Bring on the snacks
Toddlers can get fussy for several reasons and hunger can be one of them.
Being proactive is the key to preventing your toddler from having a serious meltdown at the table.
Give your toddler a snack before you leave the house or bring snacks with you to help prevent hunger pangs that may occur while waiting for your meal.
2. Bring a quiet toy
“Quiet toys” are those that don’t make noise, have distracting lights or require any assembly.
Bringing a quiet toy along with you to a restaurant can keep your toddler entertained and ensure that dinner remains fuss-free until the end.
Quiet toys can be anything from mentally stimulating books, such as this, to mazes and they work wonderfully to keep your toddler focused and calm for several minutes.
3. Set the expectations
Before leaving the house, discuss your expectations with your toddler.
Keeping your toddler “in the loop” is a great way to address your concerns and standards in a healthy and constructive way.
In terms that they understand, let your toddler know that you would like dinner to be fun and enjoyable, not messy or loud.
So, set your expectations with your toddler upfront but also be clear on any consequences as well.
4. Reward good behavior
Studies have shown that rewarding good behavior is more effective than punishment.
When you toddler is behaving well, opt to give them a treat or allow them to choose their meal.
Giving them a choice when eating out is a great way to reinforce good behavior and make dinner at your favorite restaurant even more pleasant.
5. Keep outings short and sweet
Toddlers have ridiculously short attention spans.
A short attention span combined with a timely dinner can spell disaster for any parent.
When deciding to take your toddler with you to a restaurant, keep in mind that you can only keep a toddler calm and quiet but for so long.
Until your little one is over the age of 4 and their attention span is a little bit longer, it would be wise to keep dinners out short and sweet.
Toddlers can be great dinner guests when kept occupied or when expectations are set.
However, they have to be given some leeway when it comes to behaving perfectly at a restaurant.
So it’s important to be proactive instead of reactive to their behavior and that’s where the national best-selling book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, written by Dr. Harvey Karp can come into play.
Learning how to curb tantrums and encourage good behavior is made a lot easier with this practical guide on toddler behavior.
Check it out to learn innovative parenting techniques that are quite effective for helping you survive the toddler years and raising a toddler that is happy, respectful and patient.