🏖 OMG. Vacations! But that means eating out with my kids…
It goes without saying that over the last few years, it's been difficult for any of us to experience even going away, let alone eating out with kids on vacation. Many little ones won't have had any experience of travelling or eating in cafes or restaurants, or even just of eating out as a family. But whilst it can feel a bit daunting (terrifying) there are so many good reasons to pluck up your courage and get out there. Here are a few hints and tips to help.
✔️As Nike says. Just do it.
When you head off on vacation, one of the best things (except for the sun) is the opportunity to eat different foods in different ‘types’ of environments. Yet, often, we are reluctant to take our children to them. What if they disturb the other customers, make a mess or generally won’t sit still?! But if not now, when? How will your child/ren learn how to sit at the table. Or make a choice from a menu, order meals, and enjoy the whole experience, if they are not exposed to it until they are much older? Perhaps your children are only experiencing restaurants where they are able to run off and play. Or in fast food restaurants with mess and limited waiting time. If so, that will be their normal - even if you don’t want it to be yours.
🍦 Adjust your expectations.
Start small and work up. It might be that you will just have a main course. It’s still not your kitchen and if it’s enjoyable, even for 40 minutes, who cares? And dessert can always be ice-cream on the way home..
⌚ Pick your moment…
As much as you can, plan your meal around the best time for your baby or toddler and when they will be the least tired. Make it as easy as you can on yourselves, even if that means eating dinner at 4:30. You’re on vacation – who cares?!
📵 Ditch the devices…
It’s not always popular but stick with us. Try to avoid electronic devices. Even though it’s painful, we need to role model this by not having our phones and iPads at the table either. By having devices to entertain your kids, they’re losing out on learning valuable skills. Like making conversation, taking in the different settings, aromas and foods on offer. And you’ll never get that ‘eating out experience’ you really want with your kids.
🃏 First things first
Spend time looking at the menu with them, explaining what the dishes are and whether they’ve tried anything like it before. Involve them in making choices about what everyone could try. Talk about their day and what they can see in the restaurant. And do this with babies, too. Have a couple of table top toys and activities in reserve, which your children don’t normally have. And for older children, go with cards – honestly it can be great fun and get everyone talking and involved.
🍴 Sitting comfortably and making it easy
Unsurprisingly, children need to be comfortable when they’re eating, especially if you want them to stay with you at the table. Maybe look at taking a portable highchair or booster with you (you can find inflatable ones that are easier for holidays). Both doddl baby utensils and doddl kids utensils have their own travel cases. So you can bring the sets with you to restaurants, taking away any worries that your child won’t be able to use the utensils that the restaurant offers.
🎈 Children's menus
Drop the search for restaurants with ‘kids menus’. Vacations are about enjoying new places and new tastes - for all of you. Look at taking food with you for your baby if you’re worried. But also think about what finger foods you might be able to offer them from the menu so they are able to experience new flavors too. For toddlers, ask for a side plate so they can try the same dish as you. Make a deal of it that they are sharing an ‘adult’ meal with you. As your child gets older (and they have had these experiences of eating out) they will want to try new things and will have the confidence to look at the menu and choose for themselves.
🤩 Eating out with kids on vacation - a mealtime adventure..
The aim is to always try and encourage food to be seen in a positive light by children. Giving them the opportunity to try new foods in safe and social situations is really important. We want our children to think of eating different textures and flavors as an adventure, something you can all really enjoy together.
At doddl we work with a range of experts that help inform our articles. This blog is based on an article originally provided by Claire Burgess a Family Consultant at Bespoke Family. Check out our full range in our shop.