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Dining with Baby: Restaurant Etiquette (page 2)

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Updated on Jul 26, 2012

How to Handle a Meltdown

  • Stay calm. Keep your cool if your child is crying. Otherwise, he'll sense your stress and the issue will escalate. Distract him with a toy, snack or game if you can. Don't raise your voice or get angry—you'll only prolong the situation and draw more attention to your table.
  • Cool off. Don't disrupt the other diners' dinner. Step outside for a second if you suspect the meltdown is building, you can't distract your child or you simply need to give him a moment to calm down. If you know ahead of time that your tot won't wait patiently until the meal, get up and walk around or go outside before the food arrives.

Respecting Fellow Diners

  • "Inside voices." Teach your child to use his "inside voice" or "restaurant voice" when you're dining out in public. Remember, this goes for parents too. If you're shouting at your child to quiet down, you're probably being more disruptive than he is.
  • Know when to go. You have to know when to call it quits. Sometimes—despite your best efforts—your kid just can't keep it together. Box up your food to go and try again another time.

In the end, you know your child best. Try to plan your visit around his peak hours and consider your kid's capabilities. If you know there's just no way he'll make it through a meal at 8 p.m., go earlier or let him take a second nap before dinner. But even if you plan everything perfectly, it's no guarantee that everything will go smoothly. Prepare for the worst beforehand using our restaurant etiquette tips, and try not to worry; you may be pleasantly surprised when your little Mr. Manners charms the servers and fellow diners at your favorite spot.

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