Treating your toddler to a night out in a restaurant can be a fun and exciting experience. However, it can also be messy, especially if you opt for foods that tend to have a lot of sauces or be difficult for toddlers to handle. If you are taking your toddler out to an Italian restaurant in particular, try these seven tips for keeping them neat, clean, and under control.
Ask for Less Sauce
There are plenty of Italian dishes that are served with little or no sauce. Pasta can be tossed with cheese and vegetables instead of bolognese. Often, lasagna has less sauce than stuffed manicotti. If your little one loves playing in pasta sauce, you can ask for less sauce to be served with their dish.
Choose White or Clear Sauces
While tomato-based sauces can be delicious, they also tend to leave red marks on toddlers' fingers, cheeks, and clothing. While dining out with a little one, be a bit adventurous and order a different kind of sauce. You can usually get butter or oil, a cream based sauce, or a pesto, all of which tend to wipe off more easily throughout the meal.
Cut Up Large Noodles
Watching your toddler slurp spaghetti can be hilarious while you are at home. However, when you are out it can be distracting and even embarrassing. To make eating easier for your child, cut up their food into small, manageable bites that they can pick up easily with a fork or spoon. They will have plenty of time to practice cutting their own food when they are at home.
Give Your Child a Few Bites at a Time
Watching your precious child dump a bowl full of spaghetti over their head is almost a rite of passage for many parents, however, you don't want that to happen at a restaurant and you never know when a toddler might get the idea that throwing a full plate of food on the ground or over themselves is fun.
When you order your child's food, ask for a small, empty plate. You can cut up a few bites and put them on the plate, filling it up again when those are gone.
Bring Your Own High Chair
Even if the restaurant you are going to has a high chair, it may be in use by another child, so it is best to bring your own travel chair. Your child will feel most comfortable if they are in a high chair they are familiar with, and you will be at east knowing what has been used to sanitize the eating tray.
If your child is using their own high chair, you can skip plates altogether and put bites of food directly onto their tray, which will help contain their potential mess even more.
Bring a Few Special Toys
While your child is eating, you should look for signs that they are done. When they start playing with their food as opposed to eating it or begin dropping food on the floor, it is a good idea to take their food away from them. Have a few special toys that your child only plays with while you are dining out on hand to amuse your child while your party finishes their meals.
Sit When the Food Comes, Leave When it is Done
If you have a large party dining out, you may want to leave your order with one of your friends and take your toddler on a walk around the neighborhood while the food is prepared. This will let them get rid of excess energy. You may also want to take them on a walk when they finish their meal, to give them a break from sitting still.
Dining out should be fun for both you and your toddler. If you find it stressful, you may want to practice table manners at home before taking your little one in public.