Well, the weekend is here, and before New Baby came along, one of our favorite things to do on a Saturday evening was go out for a meal. With Kayla being big (gish) now, it was usually a pretty simple and stress-free ‘treat’ for all of us. But now we have our newest little addition, and, to be honest, the idea of going out for a meal just seems like a whole lot of work! Luckily, after spending a little time online, I have found a few brilliant ideas and tips for helping you keep any restaurant outing from getting out of hand.
Choose the right place
When you have a choice about where you’re going out for a meal, choose the place that will be the least stressful to you. The type of restaurant can make a big difference. Keep in mind that even young babies will react to what is going on around them, so you need to consider your baby’s capacity for stimulation. How busy will it be? What is the noise level? How many other children or babies are likely to be there? If you are new to taking your baby out, you might want to stick to casual places where there are likely to be other children. Another great option would be a restaurant with a covered area or small garden, in case you need to take your baby for a short walk during the course of your time there.
If you’re at all like me, I’m sure you end up lugging a super heavy diaper bag around anytime you leave the house. I know I need to make sure I have absolutely EVERYTHING that we could possibly need in that bag! By the same token, before going to a restaurant, you need to take the time to create a “game plan” with your partner or family members to deal with any challenges that may arise. Don’t forget to decide who will do what if something loud, embarrassing, or smelly happens! Depending on your child’s age, you may need to plan for more than one situation… with younger babies you might not know if they will be awake, sleeping peacefully, or hungry while you’re out. If your baby is older, you may have a better idea of when they are most likely to be content and should consider timing your outing accordingly. Regarding Baby’s meal, if you’re a nursing mom, try to nurse your infant before you leave the house. If you’re not nursing, feed your baby a bottle just before you go. That way Baby’s tummy will be full and Baby will most likely be calm. If your child is on solids, you will need to make sure that you have enough bibs or facecloths, in fact, you may even want to take a change of clothes! Things could get super exciting!
What to watch for
Babies are busy creatures, and any new environment is an opportunity for fun and exploration, even your little one can’t walk yet! Because of this, you need to be vigilant to make sure that anything potentially breakable, messy, or dangerous is moved out of your baby’s reach. On top of all the great new things to look at and (try to) play with, it is also likely that your friends or other family members are going to be playing with baby. This interaction is great, just make sure that your baby doesn’t become overwhelmed or overtired. Most people might not notice the early signs that your child needs a break, and, trying to help, they might continue to stimulate Baby with keys, toys, or games. While these distractions may work in the short term, you’ll start to see more and more evidence that things are getting too much for Baby. You will know best how to soothe your child, but holding your child close and rocking them gently is a great way to calm them. Depending on your little one’s personality, you may find that they are ready to play again after a few minutes, or they may just go to sleep for a bit:)
Repeat this mantra: Everyone was a baby once. If your baby cries, well, that’s life. Of course, if your baby is wailing bloody murder, consider taking your baby outside until he calms down. You need to remember that when you go out in public with your baby you cannot control or predict what your baby will do anymore than you can control what other people do or who else will be in the restaurant when you arrive. Your baby may suddenly get upset or you may be greeted with exasperated looks from your fellow patrons before you even sit down. While it is important to be considerate of your fellow diners, you shouldn’t get stressed out about things that you can’t control.
Being prepared, vigilant, and accepting will help your restaurant adventures be much more relaxing and fun for you and your your whole family, baby included! And if these tips haven’t set your mind at ease, just watch this quick clip… like they say, it could always be worse!
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