Babies require a lot of things. Because of this, the idea of going somewhere can seem daunting, especially when no matter how many things you bring, you might not have enough to stop the one thing we all hate most – tears.
One particular interaction while on my first date night with my husband post-birth shaped my initial uneasiness about eating out with a babe. Despite our effort to have conversations that weren’t centered around the month old who was hopefully not giving grandma and grandpa too tough of a witching hour at home, we of course were discussing our son, particularly leaving home with him. At that point we’d taken him to the doctor’s office a couple times and to a frozen yogurt shop because a.) no one would be at said yogurt shop in November and b.) I became addicted to dessert during pregnancy, and frozen yogurt felt like home.
As we sat, giddily enjoying our date night, a woman with a baby on her hip and family by her side walked in. I pointed her out to my husband. “Look at them! They are daring to take their baby out, and they look happy, and the baby isn’t crying! If they can do it, so could we!” I felt nothing less than inspired by her.
Later in the evening, when my new mom bladder had me in the restaurant’s bathroom, someone aggressively pushed the door open and into me as I washed my hands. “Have you ever had one of those nights where you know you shouldn’t have left the house?,” she said/yelled at me (there was a curse word in there, too). I have never been more confident that my response would either illicit a punch or crying. I told her I hoped her night got better as she started wiping angrily at something on her sweater.
Back at our table, I told my husband about angry bathroom woman, and he pointed to someone at the restaurant, asking if it was her. There sat my former dining out mom inspiration bouncing her baby on her knee, with an iPhone shoved in the baby’s face and matching, unhappy mom and baby expressions. Something had clearly gone wrong during the meal, and no one at the table appeared to be speaking.
My husband and I found this encounter to be incredibly ironic, and hilarious, if I’m being honest, but we referenced it as a cautionary tale. We took our son out to lunch at Yats one time when he was small enough to chill in his car seat, and we strategically left at nap time. Then months passed before we attempted to eat out with him again. Like, six months. My sister’s birthday had us taking him downtown for the first time for dinner at Bru Burger. We brought toys; we brought food; we brought wipes, diapers and a positive-ish attitude. And… to our surprise, he did great!
We’ve taken our son out for dinner multiple times in the last six months, and he’s done so well every time! I realize that by putting this in writing, I’m guaranteeing he will now be terrible during our next restaurant outing, but I’m hoping to convey that eating out with a baby is not as daunting as it may seem.
Here are a few tips to make dining out with a babe totally worth it:
– Dine with family or friends. The more people who are with you, the more distractions you will have. When you have others around the dinner table, those people can also help feed the baby so you can actually enjoy your meal a bit more than normal, too.
– Go at the right time. Don’t go out to eat when your baby generally is tired. It might make sense to avoid restaurants if your baby is particularly fussy due to, oh, let’s say teething or constipation.
– Bring wet wipes, not just for baby’s tush. No matter how many toys we offer, my son will prefer to gnaw on a menu, high chair strap or something else equally disgusting. Wipe it down first for at least semi peace of mind.
– Know that crying is not the end of the world. A top concern of ours was having a baby crying relentlessly in a restaurant and bothering other people. While I still don’t want that to happen, and would certainly remove a screaming child, I now feel that if a baby is crying in a restaurant, so be it. It really isn’t that big of a deal, so don’t be embarrassed.
At the end of the day, ya gotta eat. And so does baby. While dining at home is easier by far (and cheaper), I’m happy we have experienced some Indy restaurants with Deacon, and I hope you’ll enjoy venturing out occasionally, too.
Do you have any other dining out advice to add?