Five Expert Tips for Eating in Restaurants With Your Baby

Jessica Biel
Biel attends the grand opening of Au Fudge presented by Amazon Family on March 1, 2016. Mike Windle/Getty Images

Jessica Biel is just like Us: She stresses over eating in restaurants with her baby boy. “Since he’s so little still and I’m still kind of learning how to do it in a very smooth and elegant way, it’s terrifying,” the mom of Silas Randall, 10 months, with husband Justin Timberlake, told E! News on Monday, March 1. “You get to a place, you want to make sure the diners around you are not being bothered, you’re full of anxiety, you’re trying to go as fast as you can — you don’t enjoy it at all.” Her solution: She opened family-friendly eatery Au Fudge in West Hollywood. Don’t live near Au Fudge? Tammy Gold, a licensed family therapist and cofounder of the NY Nanny Concierge Service, gives Us Weekly her top five tips on how to enjoy dining out with your little one.

Set Realistic Expectations “Don’t think your teething infant is going to be silent just because you finally got a reservation at the most coveted place in town,” Gold tells Us. “It’s not going to happen!” Instead, pick a noisy spot where the baby can cry or the toddler can yell. 

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Keep Them Moving Before the Main Event Gold suggests choosing a restaurant with ample space to explore. “This way,” says the author of Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer, “you can push the stroller or walk the baby to calm them before the meal.” When dealing with a toddler, “take him for a little tour while you’re waiting for your table,” says Gold. “Keep him active so that when you want to eat, he’s more tired out.”

On @theskimm Well good morning @JessicaBiel. UpWiththeSkimm #SkimmLife Name: Jessica Biel Job: Mama Bear, actress, producer, wannabe alpinist, consummate student of the @WomanCareGlobal #ThenWhoWill campaign. What time do you get up? It varies but I would say always (2) hours before I’d really like to. How many times do you snooze? I’m not a snoozer. Never have been. Wish I was but I would never get up if I did. I do snooze periodically throughout the day during any sort of boring conversation. Do you snore? I don’t think so. And even if I did, my dog Tina snores so loudly that no one would ever know if I did. Thanks T. 3 things you can’t live without in the AM? Yoga. Eating breakfast with my kid. Listening to Erykah Badu while I eat with my kid. We love her. Favorite line from theSkimm recently? “What to say to your niece who just found out about Santa? It’s OK. The Nazi Gold Train isn’t real either. What’s your morning drink? Bullet Proof Decaf Coffee. Who do you let speak to you before coffee? Wait… is that an option? Complete the sentence: Woke up like this: Disheveled, running late, doing too many things at once and underperforming all of them; but pretty thrilled about mediocrity! Could be a lot worse, guys. A lot worse.

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Pick the Right Time Hungry babies are cranky babies. “Work within your child’s schedule,” instructs Gold. “If it’s not possible to actually eat at baby’s mealtime, I recommend feeding them at home and then bringing along a snack as a distraction.” If dinner will last through bedtime, consider pulling the stroller right up to the table, and don’t forget blankies and other soothers.

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Pack Distractions “Bring a special stock of ‘restaurant-only’ toys, novel goodies that your baby doesn’t get to play with at home or in the car,” says Gold. Since boredom is the biggest trigger of tantrums and bad behavior, keeping the baby amused is all up to you. A rattle and a blanket can’t keep interest during a  three-hour meal.” 

Accept Imperfection “Maybe you swore you would never be that mom allowing an iPad at dinner, but sometimes you just need to do what is needed to keep the peace”, says Gold. “If you are at dinner with friends you haven’t recently seen, that is way more important than whether or not your baby is double-fisting cereal and watching Barney!”

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