Going to a restaurant with your newborn for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience for any new parent. You’re not too sure how they’ll react to the different environment or if they’ll fuss and disturb other diners. In this article, you’ll find key information on how to take a newborn to a restaurant and make the most out of the dining experience with your newest family member!
While all babies have unique personalities and necessities, there are a number of very helpful tips that any new parents can use for their baby’s first restaurant visit (or second, third, and fourth).
Here you’ll find useful advice for a successful outing, including everything from which restaurant to choose, what to bring to keep your little one content, and what to do if your baby starts to fuss.
Tips for How to Take a Newborn to a Restaurant and Enjoy Your Time
Before attempting to dine out with your little one, it may be a good idea to go on some easy outings to make sure you feel comfortable getting out of the house with your new baby. In order to not get stressed or nervous about bringing your baby to a restaurant, you’ll need to plan and prepare some things in advance.
These tips will help you take your newborn to a restaurant and actually enjoy your time.
Choose an Appropriate Dining Location
First and foremost you want to go to a suitable restaurant.
While it doesn’t necessarily need to be one that caters to children, it should be family-friendly.
Consider somewhere not too far from home if you haven’t been out too many times with your newborn. These excursions can seem a bit less daunting when done in little bite-size pieces.
You’ll also want to choose somewhere that’s not too crowded.
The last thing you want is a lack of physical space and noisy restaurant guests throwing your newborn into a panic.
Don’t worry! If they do start to fuss, there are steps to calm them at the end of this article!
Go During the Restaurant’s Slow Time
Piggybacking onto the previous point, you probably won’t want to plan dinner with your little one right during the dinner rush.
Between lineups to get in and bustling crowds, the busy time may be a bit too much, especially for you and your baby’s first time dining out.
Choose a slower time at the restaurant, such as mid-afternoon for a bit of an earlier dinner. The kitchen will get your meal out faster and you can take your time eating to actually enjoy the food.
Ask for a Good Table at the Restaurant
Ask the restaurant staff which table would be the best spot for you and your newest family member.
If you need to bring a car seat, a booth may work well to put the seat safely on the bench beside you.
If you need to bring the stroller, ask for a table that’s out of the way of serving staff and people coming in and out.
(More on these points later!)
If you need to breastfeed and YOU want to do so discreetly, ask if any corner or private tables are available.
I stress the “you” in that sentence because you have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever you want and don’t need to feel pressured to hide or cover up.
If YOU feel more comfortable with privacy, then that’s what you should request.
It’s up to you.
Prepare Your Baby Before Dinner
One way to encourage an enjoyable time when dining out with your newborn is to make sure your baby is rested and fed before you dig into your own meal.
Your baby will likely be more comfortable if they aren’t fussing due to hunger or tiredness.
Change their diaper, feed them their meal first and hope for a calm little one when it’s mom’s time to eat!
Don’t Forget Your Baby’s Necessary Items
Of course you’ll want to bring the diaper bag but be sure to include any additional things that might keep your baby happier or more relaxed during your outing.
This may include a pacifier, lovey, blanket, nursing cover, mini baby mobile or toys, and even a portable sound machine to block out some of the restaurant commotion.
Check out the full list in the section on what to bring when taking a newborn to a restaurant!
Keep Your Plans Flexible
Be flexible with your plans and kind to yourself.
This is particularly important the first handful of times that you take your newborn out in public like this.
If you need to leave early because your newborn is getting upset or fussy, then go.
Perhaps you’re not able to eat your meal because your baby is wriggling then don’t feel you have to eat it there.
Or if breastfeeding in public is just too complicated because your little one won’t latch on then head out to find a more comfortable spot.
Don’t force yourself to stay if it’s no longer enjoyable for you or the baby.
You can always ask the server to pack up your meal and maybe (hopefully) you can finish it once you get home.
How Long Should You Wait to Take Your Newborn to a Restaurant?
There isn’t a strict rule on when you can take a newborn to a restaurant.
Some experts say that there’s no need to hold off at all and others recommend waiting until the baby’s immune system has had a chance to develop.
This is one of those questions that doesn’t have a blanket response for all.
You know your baby and your own comfort level best.
Not only that but it may depend on a number of factors such as your baby’s health, whether you’re dining inside or out, how crowded the restaurant is, and how difficult it will be to keep some physical distance from others.
Some may be able to take their baby to a restaurant at 2 weeks of age and others prefer to hold off until closer to 2 months.
Always speak with your healthcare provider about how long you should wait to take your newborn to a restaurant and other public spaces. They will know how to properly advise you on when it is safe to do so.
When you do decide to take your baby into a restaurant, try to go somewhere that is well-ventilated, with space from others, and at a time when it’s not too busy.
Can You Take a Newborn to a Restaurant?
Yes, you can take a newborn to a restaurant unless it is a child-free establishment or if they have a policy where children are permitted only before a certain hour of the day.
Some locations may even have a separate section that is kid-friendly.
If you are going to a new restaurant and you’re unsure whether they are child-friendly or not, just call ahead and ask what their policy is.
What to Do With a Newborn at a Restaurant? Where Do They Sit?
Your baby is too new for a highchair so what do you do with a newborn at a restaurant? Where do you put the baby while you’re eating?
You want to think of where your baby will be most comfortable and safe. And what sort of space you’ll have at the restaurant.
A car seat, stroller, bassinet, carrier, or in your arms are the best places for your infant at a restaurant.
If you’re driving, it may be easiest to bring the baby in with their car seat.
It’s not always easy to squeeze a stroller into a restaurant’s dining area, that’s one disadvantage of strollers. But if you can bring a stroller, it is a convenient spot for the baby to lay down while you eat.
Wherever you decide to put your newborn, choose somewhere that is safe and where you can see them the entire time. They should never be left unattended.
Where to Put a Car Seat in a Restaurant
Newborns and babies can comfortably stay in their car seat while you are dining at a restaurant.
If you are sitting at a booth, the car seat can likely fit safely on the bench seat beside you.
If you are at a regular table, find a safe area on the floor away from people walking around.
Most chairs usually aren’t a safe place as the car seat could accidentally get bumped off. Some highchairs actually convert to hold car seats so this may be an option depending on the restaurant.
Where to Put a Stroller in a Restaurant
Finding a place to park a stroller can be tricky in some restaurants.
If your baby is staying in the stroller, ask for a table that would be out of the way so that your baby can be right next to you without the stroller obstructing the path for other restaurant patrons.
If your infant is not going to be in the stroller for the duration of the meal, some restaurants have a specific stroller area where it can go. Otherwise, you can find a quiet corner that is out of the way and not blocking any exits.
Your server should be able to help find the best location to leave the stroller.
Be sure to take any valuables and baby necessities before parking the stroller and going to your table.
When Can a Baby Sit in a Highchair?
A baby can typically sit in a highchair around 5-6 months of age but it can vary due to the individual baby’s development. Around this time is when they can sit upright with minimal support and they are able to control their head and upper body.
Even with a baby sitting upright, you’ll want to make sure that the high chair is appropriate for their age and size. Make sure that there is a secure harness in place and never leave them unsupervised.
How to Eat Dinner With a Newborn
Eating dinner with a newborn can be a bit challenging but by thinking ahead you can enjoy your meal even with your baby in your arms.
If you decide to hold your baby while eating, try to bring a cloth or blanket so that nothing gets spilled on them.
Always make sure you have a good hold on the baby, even when leaning to eat or reaching for something on the table. Newborns have very limited neck strength so you don’t want their head flopping or for them to be in danger of falling.
Bring items from home that will keep your baby comfortable and happy such as a pacifier.
We’ll go into more depth about what to bring shortly!
Feed your baby before the food comes so that they aren’t hungry when it’s your meal time. There’s a high likelihood that they’ll even want to nap after they’ve been fed.
That’s your chance to enjoy your meal!
Order food that will be somewhat manageable with one hand and a baby in your arms. If you need, ask someone to cut your meal up so that it can be easily eaten with one hand.
Think finger food or small pieces on a plate rather than hot soups!
Take your time while eating and try not to get frustrated. It’s not always easy eating with a wiggly baby on you.
If you’re having trouble eating with your newborn and you’re dining with someone you trust, ask them to hold the baby when they’re done with their meal so that you can have a chance to eat some of yours.
Keep in mind that every new mom goes through this learning curve and not every dining experience will be the same.
One time your baby might get fussy and the next eating at a restaurant with them may be a breeze!
Don’t get frustrated, stay flexible, and learn what works best for you and your baby.
What to Bring When Taking a Newborn to a Restaurant
When you take your newborn to a restaurant, you’ll want to pack all of their essentials plus any other items that you think may make the outing more comfortable for you and the baby. Here’s a list with some ideas of what you’ll want to bring:
- Change pad
- Burp cloths
- Change of clothes (just in case)
- Nursing cover (if you want when breastfeeding)
- Bottles and formula (if bottle-feeding)
- Soft blanket or swaddle
- Baby carrier, car seat or stroller
- Toys or items to entertain your baby
The first few times you go out it feels like you’re packing so much for one tiny human. But it’s better to overpack and be prepared than be caught needing something that you didn’t bring.
What to Do if Your Newborn Cries or Fusses During the Meal
First, you need to remember that crying and fussing is a way for babies to communicate their needs and is, in most cases, absolutely normal.
It’s understandable that you don’t want your baby to be upset nor do you want to bother other restaurant guests. By keeping your cool, you can handle the situation like a pro.
Before doing anything, you’ll want to check the five basic questions for a happy baby:
- Are they hungry?
- Do they need their diaper changed?
- Do they have trapped gas?
- Are they tired?
- Is the temperature comfortable for them?
Once those have all been checked, you can move on to simply trying to stop their fussing.
Try rocking them or patting their bottom to create a rhythmic movement. People often say that babies calm down with this as it mimics the soothing motion they had in the womb before they were born.
If you brought the stroller, push it back and forth to create a similar relaxing movement.
If they’re in the car seat, you can gently rock that to see if they’ll settle.
Sing, hum or talk softly to your newborn. You’re not looking to perform in front of the entire restaurant but hearing your voice may be just what your little one needs to feel calm.
Stand up and walk around. I don’t know what it is, maybe back to the movement thing, but babies love to be walked around. You may need to interrupt your meal for a few minutes but the change of scenery might be what it takes to stop their fussing.
If your baby takes a pacifier, you could try giving it to them.
Every baby is different and you’ll soon know exactly what technique your newborn needs to settle their crying.
If you start to get flustered or your baby won’t stop, dress them appropriately to head outside for a bit.
Suppose even that doesn’t help, don’t feel pressured into staying at the restaurant. You can ask to pack up your meal, pay your bill, and call it a night.
Not every outing will go perfectly and the most important thing is that you and your baby enjoy your time dining out.
In conclusion, going to a restaurant with your baby may take some extra planning and preparation but it can be a memorable way to get out with your newest arrival.
New parents wondering how to take a newborn to a restaurant can feel confident that they have done what they can to ensure their baby is comfortable and happy by following some of these helpful tips. With a positive and flexible attitude, taking your baby out for a meal can be a fun experience for the whole family.
Related Article: How to Leave the House With a Newborn