Toddler Food Ideas For Out And About
You will find the full dining out guide in our Launch Magazine. To find out more or to purchase online see the links below:
Winter Warmers Magazine – Available in Coles and all good Newsagents from May 8th 2014
A table for two and a half
Have you ever planned a cafe date with a friend and your delightful toddler and attempted to have coffee? It usually starts like this: you convince yourself that it will be a good idea, and it will be good for you to get out of the house, not to mention some important socialisation training for your little one. Moments later you are in a crowded café, flustered and sweating, while partaking in a spoon grabbing, hot coffee dodging, sugar-flying duel. Your friend, who does not have children, now does not want them, and you regret leaving the house. Now, that’s just coffee, can you imagine attempting dinner?
Gossip deprivation can lead to parents plying their kids with pre-packaged snack after snack after snack. While this idea seems good at the time, what you might find is that you have a bloated, additive-crazed child to enjoy all afternoon. It’s probably not worth it.
There is another way. It involves a little planning and a lot of luck but may at times give you up to 20 minutes of silent-child peace.
Dining out plan:
- Before you go, try going over some basic rules so that your child knows the boundaries and expected behaviour. You want to time your outing perfectly so that it falls at a time where your child is not too tired or too hungry. Restaurants often offer a kids happy hour so you will get your food faster, and often cheaper, without the chaos of a full dining room full of glarers and shushers.
- Call ahead to check if your cafe of choice caters to the little ones. Booths are great for kids who don’t like to be restricted, or try to reserve a highchair – with four legs (preferably). When heading out for dinner it can be a good idea to order dinner straight away and walk around outside with your toddler while you wait. Once the meal has arrived little ones will be more likely to sit still at the table and eat, and let you enjoy your meal too.
- Many parents find themselves forking out unnecessary dollars on restaurant food for their kids that is both unhealthy and also doesn’t get eaten. There are many tempting snacks you can bring from home that will keep your child both distracted and well fed. Finger foods that can be eaten easily without making too much mess are often the best, such as frozen grapes, dried fruit, mini muffins and muesli bars.
Healthy kids menu
- If you are dining out somewhere and want the kids to enjoy a meal it might be worth checking out the kids’ menu first. Unfortunately, most kids’ menus are of the deep-fried variety, but you can always ask for an entrée size adult meal as another option. If your child has a food allergy, most restaurants are happy to make a separate meal as long as they have some advanced warning.
Order a ‘sometimes’ food
- Eating out and about should be a fun experience for the little ones. You want them to enjoy and look forward to going out as much as you do. Ordering the older kids a milkshake or cookie, or simply trying something new to share, can be a nice experience for them to enjoy.
Bag of tricks
- It’s a good idea to bring a small bag of activities with you. Crayons and paper, a small tub of Playdough and other small toys can keep the little ones distracted long enough for you to enjoy a meal. It’s even better if this bag only comes out at these times. If you use an electrical device such as an iPad to keep the peace, try and save this for the end of the meal. It’s a good idea to give children a mealtime experience where they can practice important social skills and learn how to sit patiently.
Remember the essentials
- You’re heading out for a good time, so it’s more than likely there will be a spillage or nappy change to deal with. Remember all your basics to keep things clean and harmonious, such as a suction bowl to attach to the table, kids’ cutlery, antiseptic wipes, baby wipes, water, and most importantly – a sense of humour.
Going out with friends or as a family should be something you can enjoy. Choosing appropriate places to dine, and being prepared, can make these outings much more enjoyable for all involved. Give your child the chance to show you how well they can behave – you never know, they might sit and eat quietly for 20 minutes before they impale a fellow diner with their fork.
Top 5 toddler finger foods
- Pick ‘n’ mix fritters
- Pick ‘n’ mix muffins
- ‘Chew Me’ fruit oat bars
- Apricot coconut muesli balls
- Heart fruit skewers