8 tips to entertain toddlers in a restaurant

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Having a child is life changing. It can be both the best and most difficult change at the same time. Day and night mixed up, wailing ringing in your ears and parents completely knackered. Goodbye former life!

After we get over the initial shock and begin to find a rhythm, we might feel a little nostalgic for some elements of our pre-baby life. Like having a coffee with friends or just a pleasant lunch in our favourite restaurant.

If there is a grandparent around, then we can steal some hours for ourselves. Or if we bring the baby with us, and are lucky, he or she will hopefully sleep through and we can have a calm hour.

But what about toddlers? Well, this is trickier. How can we entertain them without using an iPad or smart phone so that we can have a few minutes to eat? Maybe the most difficult age group is between 2 and 4 years. The best is if the restaurant has a play area, but what if it hasn’t? Here are some electronic-free tips to entertain them regardless:

  1. Pack a bag of tricks (fun kit):

Keep some items in your bag that only come out on restaurant or cafe visits, like small toys, puzzles, colouring books, blank paper, crayons, stickers, a memory card game, etc.

  1. Play with the items on the table:

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Just be creative with the items on the table – after establishing the boundaries of course. Have your child separate the mixed sugar packs based on colour, or ask him to arrange the bottles and containers on the table in order of short to tall and so on.

  1. Smart father’s ideas:

A smart and funny daddy with crazy ideas can be a big help at any time. Always bring one with you! 🙂

  1. Printed colouring pages with favourite cartoon characters:

A favourite character can bring a smile to your child, giving you some much-needed minutes while he is colouring.

  1. Guess which hand:

This is a very, very old game; maybe our grandparents used to play it when they were little, and I am sure you know it well too. Just use a sugar pack or any other small item from the table and hide it in one of your hands and have your child guess in which hand it is. The little ones enjoy it so much!

  1. Disappearing objects:

Put a group of items together in the middle of the table. Tell your child to look at them closely and then tell him to close his eyes. Take away an item and ask your child to tell which was it.

  1. Take a walk:

Sitting and waiting is hard for children and they are only able to do that for a certain amount of time. 🙂 So you’d better take a walk with them in the restaurant, checking the pictures, furniture or other interesting things before the meal arrives. If you are lucky, they can sit while you are eating. 🙂

  1. Teach table manners:

Eating out in a restaurant is a great opportunity to teach some table manners. Before the food comes we can talk about the table setup, different items, how to politely ask for something from the waiter and so on. Then of course we can praise them if they do it right; they will be delighted and maybe calm. 🙂

One final tip:

We recommend not having an appetiser :(, or just order an appetiser to share. And the child’s meal should come with your main course; if it comes before then, he will be finished eating when you just are just starting yours.

…And one extra tip:

Learn to eat quickly! 🙂

Did we miss a tip? If you have any ideas of your own, please leave a comment!

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