Next in the series
Last week I wrote all about eating out and about with a baby. This week I’m going to cover my top tips for eating out and about with slightly older babies. This might sound a little strange. Babies will become more confident little eaters (perhaps from around 9-12 months of age). Then the foods that baby has may be very different to those first tastes and experiences with solid foods at around 6 and 7 months of age. From around 9 months it’s likely that little ones will be enjoying more of the kind of foods that you and your family eat too.
To summarise some of the issues that I’ve often experienced when it comes to eating out with babies. Here are some that I referred to last week:
- Ingredients – these often are variable and you’re not in control of what is going into the food or the amounts either. For example are the meals high in salt, sugar, honey, saturated fat or do they contain high amounts of herbs and spices that your baby just isn’t used to?
- Portion sizes – who knows how much they will eat from meal to meal…and adult portion sizes cost more and are often too large for tiny tummies.
- Kid’s menus – don’t even get me started on these! There are certainly some good ones out there (takes a bit of exploring), but it seems so often restaurants seem to think that children will ONLY eat chicken nuggets and chips…
- Time – keeping them entertained whilst waiting
- Mess – clearing up after yourself or even leaving the restaurant under your coat because there is tomato smeared up the wall (familiar, anyone?)
Eating out and about with an older baby
As baby starts experimenting with more flavours and tastes you’ll probably find that the need more substantial meals. This makes it a little harder when eating out and about. You then have the challenge of cooking a whole meal and taking it with you. As well as having to think more about bibs, wipes, keeping food cool, packing food for you etc.
Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that I’m always the mum at the restaurant who has forgotten things. A bib/feeding equipment/wipes (FYI a napkin scarf works just fine!!). However, for me, as soon as Raffy got a little older I was desperate to leave the house without a collection of foods and food related items. Us parents have enough to think about as it is!
This meant I had to be extra savvy when placing orders for Raffy. I certainly have some tips for this that worked a treat for me in those early months for feeding baby solids.
- Ask questions. So many people are embarrassed to ask. But when it comes to your little ones health, I think it’s always good to be confident enough to just double check with the waiter/chef.
- No added salt. Sometimes restaurants add a lot of salt to dishes and sometimes they don’t. At a restaurant or a café it’s very hard to tell. Ask if it can come without any added salt and you might be surprised that more often than not the staff will say YES! If you want to read about why salt is a bit of a problem, read à How much salt should a baby have.
- Order sides and concoct your own dish for baby from these. E.g. quite often you can opt for potatoes, veggies, salads and proteins as side dishes on the menus. Choosing a selection of these for baby might work so much better than having one basic meal.
- Request smaller portions of adult meals if you aren’t impressed with the children’s menus
- Make substitutes. For example, I have often asked for mashed potato or broccoli to be served with Raffy’s food rather than chips. I’ve also asked for fruit to be offered as part of a “kids meal” dessert and sometimes I just take the batter off something like fish.
- Share meals at the table. This is an absolute favourite of mine. It is something that we did with Raffy throughout our holiday to Italy as well as for most of the time in Hong Kong/Bali. I will normally pick one small meal that I want and a side order or two that I know Raffy will enjoy and we share a mixture of them all.
What this means is:
- Neither of us are having too bigger portions and wasting food
- We both enjoy a real variety of foods at the meal
- If Raffy doesn’t fancy something that I’ve ordered he can eat another part of the meal that he does want more of. (And I just go without…)
- That we are eating together and I’m role modelling by eating the same foods as him too
- Order their foods as soon as you sit down so baby doesn’t have to wait long
- Bring foods along with you that you know they will eat, to offer after the meal and prolong your time to sit and relax
- Use finger foods such as peas and beans that baby has to work hard to pick up and eat. Which can give you longer again to sit and enjoy your meal
- Pick small toys that baby can play with before the food comes
- Have stickers and or some crayons for older babies. I also loves taking mini books to read to Raffy when we were at the table. These easily fit into bags and can keep them distracted for quite a while
Let me know if you have any more tips to add to this. Please look out for my top tips to eating out with a toddler next week too!