This special guest blog post was written by self-confessed foodie, avid cafe goer, Mamma to two little girls under two, and creator of kid-friendly cafe review website www.littleeats.com.au – where it’s all about cafe culture for Melbourne’s little ones.
Here Jemma shares 10 things to take when you are eating out with kids
Toys = fun = occupied bubba = happy bubba = happy Mamma… who can sip her latte in peace or leisurely flick through the Sunday papers. Ok, maybe that’s not always the reality, but when eating out with little ones, then a little can certainly go a long way. For example just a couple of small toys, a favourite well-loved book, a little travel game, a pack of cards, some stickers, crayons or coloured pencils and a drawing pad may just be the thing your little ones need to keep them occupied at the table rather than running amuck like a mini tornado through the cafe and the difference between a pleasant family meal or a horror story!
We Love – Crayon Rocks, Big Pencils for Little Hands, “I Love My Babycino’s” by Katrina Thomson and cheap and cheerful colouring-in books from the $2 shop.
2. Emergency snacks
A stash of snacks and treats (or perhaps bribes?) can help to keep your little ones occupied before the meal, or help ease those hunger pains in case the food takes a little too long to come out, or just simply something to fill their tummies if they don’t like their meal or just flat out refuse to eat it.
We Love – A lunchbox or lunch bag (we have a cute Tiger Tribe one) packed with lots of little snacks including a box of raisins, dried apricots, rice crackers, a muesli or fruit bar, biscuits eg: Tiny Teddies or Marie, cheese, a banana or an apple, and little containers of fresh fruit eg: strawberries or grapes, or cucumber and celery sticks.
3. Hand wipes
These are a god-send! Yes I know they are not the most environmentally friendly thing, and we go through so many, however they are such a quick and easy way to wipe dirty little hands clean, wipe babycino froth off top lips, bolognese sauce off chubby cheeks and also handy to use to wipe down restaurant highchairs (just in case their idea of cleanliness doesn’t meet your standards!).
We Love – Wet Ones Sensitive Skin Hand & Face Wipes Travel Pack
4. A change mat
If you have a new little bubba who needs to be changed regularly then it’s a good idea to have a portable padded change mat in your baby bag just in case there are no changing facilities provided at the cafe or restaurant. Preferably a plastic one that can easily be wiped down (in case of explosions!). Then if you really, really have to change your little one, you can lay the mat directly on the floor of the bathroom… yes, gross I know, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! Especially if your little one has just done a “number 3” in their nappy that needs to be changed quick-smart!
We Love – A cute and colourful number by Chickpea.
5. A bib
When eating out with kids, you definitely can’t forget a bib, especially if your little one is dressed in their Sunday Best or their special “going out clothes”. Sure they may fling their food around, drop their food, spit out their food, spill their food or heaven forbid throw-up their food! And sure they will get messy and no doubt will get more of their meals on their clothes than in their mouths, but having a plastic bib on-hand can help to minimise the mess and prevent excessive stainage to their funky little outfit!
We Love – Baby Bjorn Soft Bib in pink
6. A drink bottle or sippy cup for waterWe all need to keep our fluids up, and a no spill, familiar drink bottle filled with water is a good option for a little one to ensure that their thirst is quenched. Our little one is often treated to a babycino or a mini-milkshake or smoothie, but with meals it is always water.
We Love – The Thermos Foogo range
7. Plastic Cutlery
A lot of cafes and restaurants (even kid-friendly ones) don’t always provide special cutlery for children. It is often a lot safer for little ones to use plastic, not to mention less noisy if they are going to be flung repeatedly from the highchair and chucked on the floor! Ikea have packets of brightly coloured plastic cutlery that are super cheap too, so if they get left behind at the cafe then it really ain’t a biggie.
We Love – Ikea plastic cutlery
8. Portable highchair
If you are often out and about eating out at cafes and restaurants, dining at friends houses or travelling, then one of these little babies is a must! When no highchair is available, then a portable highchair is a perfect solution for your tiny diner. They are made of material, lightweight, can easily be folded up and kept in your baby bag and has been designed to slip over most chairs. Genius huh! And voila, an instant way to keep your little one safely secured and ready to eat their meal, whilst still being included and part of the grown-ups table.
We Love – Dinky Diner Portable Highchair
9. All your normal baby bag paraphernalia
You’re a parent. You know the drill. With little ones it is pretty hard to leave the house without a bag full of crap! Nappies, wipes, creams, nappy sacks, tissues, hand disenfectant, muslins, bibs, blankets, spare clothes etc etc. But hey it’s all necessary, and still necessary to take along with you when eating out with your wee ones.
And last but not least, when eating out at cafes and restaurants with your little ones, don’t forget to take an open mind, a relaxed manner & a good sense of humour with you! Happy Eating! Enjoy!
What do you take with you when you are eating out with little ones?