Monday, November 28, 2011
Tips for Taking Your Baby to a Restaurant
When you have a choice about where you're going out for a meal, choose the place that will be the least stressful to you. The type of restaurant can make a big difference. Consider your baby's capacity for stimulation. How busy will it be? What is the noise level? How many other children or babies are likely to be there? If you are new to taking your baby out, you might want to stick to casual places where there are likely to be other children. You might also consider finding out if there is a covered area outside where you (or someone else) can take your baby for a walk as needed.
I'm sure that anytime you go out with your baby, you pack the diaper bag with everything that you might possibly need. Before going to a restaurant, you also should take the time to create a "game plan" with your partner or family members to deal with any challenges that may arise. Before you go, decide who will do what if something loud, embarrassing, or smelly happens!
If your baby is less than 2 months old, there is no way of knowing when your baby will be awake, sleeping peacefully, or hungry. You'll need to be prepared for all 3. Older babies are more likely to be more predictable and it may be wise to time your outing to increase your chances of having a contented baby.
What to Watch For
Your baby is very likely to be interested in all the sights and sounds that you encounter in the restaurant. Healthy babies want to explore their surroundings. But that means you need to be vigilant to make sure that anything potentially breakable, messy, or dangerous is moved out of your baby's reach. Relatives and friends will want to play and entertain your baby and that's great too. Take advantage of their willingness to entertain your baby to get something to eat! But, you'll also want to keep an eye on your baby to make sure that he doesn't become overwhelmed or overtired. It is common for friends and relatives to ignore the early disengagement cues until your baby becomes fussy. Trying to help, they might continue to stimulate the baby with keys, toys, or games. While these distractions may work in the short term, you'll start to see stronger and more frequent disengagement cues and your baby may become very upset. It is better to respond to the early disengagement cues with reduced stimulation (as simply as holding your baby closer to you and turned toward your body) and/or some repetitive sounds and movements until your baby seems ready to play again or falls asleep.
Take Things in Stride
The most important thing to remember when you go out in public with your baby is that you cannot control or predict what your baby will do anymore than you can control who else will be in the restaurant when you arrive. Your baby may suddenly have a fussy period or you may be greeted with exasperated looks from your fellow patrons before you even sit down. Your baby may have a huge diaper blow out just as your meal arrives. These things happen and are part of parenting. Someday, you'll look back on these experiences and laugh. Should anything unexpected happen, stick to the plan that you made before you left (i.e. whoever has eaten more leaves the table to change the diaper or settle your crying baby) and keep your sense of humor. While it is important to be considerate of your fellow diners, you shouldn't berate yourself about things that you can't control. Being prepared, vigilant, and accepting will help your restaurant adventures be much more relaxing and fun for you and your baby.