Keeping toddlers behaving themselves in restaurants

If you are the parent of a toddler, chances are that there are times when you wish they would simply stop behaving in the way that they do. In public, this is particularly relevant and within a restaurant environment, even more so. People are trying to eat in a peaceful place and certainly don’t welcome your toddler’s tantrums. So how can you help the situation? Are there things that a parent can do to try and limit the behavior which disrupts others?


If you are stopping for a coffee, then this isn’t such a big deal. Chances are that other shoppers with kids will also be stopping for a break from their shopping. However, a restaurant environment is slightly different. For a toddler, nothing is worse than sitting waiting. Imagine how slowly time seems to go for a little person waiting to be served. Toddlers don’t have the same concept of time as adults do and when it is imposed upon them that they have to sit quietly and wait, chances are that they won’t.

There are various alternatives open to you. If you know other moms, perhaps they are aware of restaurants which offer safe play areas for kids. That means that your little one will have something to look forward to and will be able to vent frustrations doing something constructive.  Mom Maps Kids on the Go is an app for busy moms which shows restaurants which have child facilities such as indoor play areas and these are absolutely ideal for active toddlers. 

If you can organize a trip to a restaurant which is kid-friendly, chances are that there are other parents with toddlers who will be having the same issues and this may prove to be a meeting point where kids make friends and parents do too.


Playing grown up games with children is a good idea before you visit a restaurant. For example, tell them the kind of place you are going to. Teach them how to use a napkin and make a game of it. Show them how to sit with their backs straight and even sit teddy bears around the table making grumpy noises when a child does something wrong. This prepares them for the real world of restaurants so that the children know how to behave. 

No kid-friendly restaurant?

This proves more awkward, though you can still plan so that your toddler isn’t too crabby when you hit the restaurant. For example, if dining at lunch time, this is easier because the toddler won’t be so tired. A tired toddler makes a very grumpy toddler so try to avoid times when restaurants are open and your child is likely to be overtired.

Another alternative is that you can make sure that your toddler has sufficient toys with him/her to stay amused. Small toys that demand the attention of the child are good, though avoid those which are overly noisy as this may upset other patrons. Often a small notepad and a coloring pen may just take the child out of a crabby mood and into a much more agreeable mood. Even if this takes input from mom, that little distraction may be all that the child needs particularly at times when there is waiting involved.


Although it’s fun dressing up toddlers for a trip out, it may not be such fun for the child. Try to take into account the comfort factor, so that the child is kept comfortable at all times. Trousers which are uncomfortable may make them wriggle. Similarly, coats which cause constriction are not comfortable on anyone, so make sure that the toddler is dressed in a manner which will cut down their infuriating wriggling.

If you talk to your child in the restaurant and remember to include the child in the different processes that go into choosing the meal, this helps. Of course, a toddler has no idea what’s available, but mom can explain in simple terms and gain approval from the child, who may otherwise feel bad-tempered.

In conclusion

If you know your toddler is going to act up, work out ways that you can calm the child. In a restaurant situation, it’s difficult for others to tolerate bad behavior. If there are highchairs available in a restaurant, sometimes this is all it takes to keep the toddler still. If the child is too big for a highchair, ask if there are cushions available so the child doesn’t feel too little. Imagine the world from the viewpoint of a child and sometimes, answers are obvious. 

It is much more likely that any behavior from a toddler will be more acceptable in a restaurant which offers facilities for children. This would be the wisest choice. Even in restaurants which do not have play areas, there are those which welcome families and other families will be much more tolerant if the restaurant is filled with parents and kids. Remember, your child may be noisy sometimes, though all it takes is a little thought and you can make the meal an enjoyable one for everyone, including the toddler himself/herself.