Some restaurant owners allow pets in their establishments. However, other owners, either openly or covertly, are reluctant to welcome parents with their babies or young children. The reasons given are the inconvenience to regular customers and the lack of space for strollers, for example. This is a disturbing but very real fact that shakes our fundamental human values.
The subject has resurfaced recently as restaurants in the United States, France and even in Quebec – one case was reported in the Outaouais region – have chosen not to serve parents with children during certain busier periods. Others have banned them altogether, despite laws that prohibit such practices.
Some pizzerias and more upscale restaurants have chosen to do this. Is this the return of a trend already observed a few decades ago? Is it a sign of intolerance? Who knows?
Taking your kids out
Some parents take their children to restaurants to teach them how to behave in public. And it’s important to do so. Sure, they can be rambunctious at times, but isn’t that what children do – move around a bit?
In the beginning, of course, you should choose a more family-oriented place. Then there are a few things you can do to make sure the meal goes smoothly and doesn’t turn into a disaster. Here are a few of them.
Choosing the day
If you’ve had a stressful day at work, your spouse is exhausted and your kids are exhausted from daycare activities, it’s not really a good time to go to a restaurant. Instead, opt for ordering in at home or having a very simple picnic in front of the TV. If you do choose to eat out, choose weekdays rather than weekends, when the establishments are less crowded.
Choosing a restaurant
To start restaurant visits with babies and young children, choose breakfast. In the morning, the whole family is rested and in shape. Moreover, restaurants specialized in breakfast are used to the often agitated family atmosphere. You will be able to see how your children behave, and gradually, these outings will allow them to become patient and learn the rules of politeness and courtesy. Teach them the magic words: “Thank you” and “Please”. Let them know that boisterousness is not pleasant for other guests. Learning these behaviors will help you in any public situation.
The bag of toys
Depending on the age of the child, choose the toys they prefer so they can have a little fun during the waiting time. Crayons, notepads, books will keep older children entertained. Avoid felt-tip pens, which can be messy. For babies, rattles and stuffed animals are recommended. However, do not bring anything musical or noisy.
Respecting the rules
At home, there are rules and agreements between parents and children. At the restaurant, it’s the same principle. Just because you’re somewhere else doesn’t mean you can disobey. Be clear on this point and crack down, if necessary.
To break the family routine, the restaurant is the ideal place to indulge in small pleasures that we don’t usually allow ourselves. Say yes to soft drinks, fruit cocktails and more extravagant desserts.
For little babies
Eating out with baby is a challenge. It’s a decision that requires forethought and consideration. Here are some tips.
The type of restaurant
Whenever possible, choose a family restaurant or one you frequent often. Then, avoid peak hours, for more peace and quiet. Make sure that you can change your little one’s diaper in an equipped bathroom or at least in a bathroom where you can put a plastic mat (often sold in diaper bags) or a clean towel on the floor.
It’s better to be safe than sorry! The diaper bag of a baby who goes to a restaurant must contain bottles (if you are not breastfeeding), formula, purees, a cup and the usual utensils. Also include bibs, a change of clothes, plenty of diapers, washcloths and wet wipes, and a changing mat if the place doesn’t have a table. Remember to stock your baby’s kit with the toys he or she prefers, but no noisy or musical objects.
Managing bottles and purées
If you are having trouble getting your baby’s bottles and formula warmed up by the staff, there are bottle warmers on the market with a car adapter. No room for strollers
Many establishments refuse strollers because they take up too much space to the detriment of other customers. At the very least, opt for a folding stroller, and if your baby is sleepy, choose a car seat that is often convertible and more comfortable.
If you’re breastfeeding, just do it, without hiding. Most people find this gesture of love quite touching. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it openly, you can find an apron on this site specially designed for breastfeeding.
Baby in crisis
If, despite your best efforts, your child is not satisfied and is making this clear, be patient and flexible. In this case, going home with a take-out meal is the best solution.
If you have been refused access to a restaurant, inform your family, friends and the media of this situation. There is nothing worse for a restaurant owner than to see his clientele gradually disappear because of a questionable decision. If your family and friends choose to boycott the establishment, it is likely that the owner or management will decide to welcome your children with open arms.