I dine out with my family a few times a month on average and I’ll be honest, it can be very difficult keeping my fidgety toddler entertained. I always bring books and smalls toys, but they are inevitably tossed to the floor within minutes. The crayons work for maybe 30 seconds before she puts them in her mouth, so I am left to improvise and distract until the food comes out. Admittedly, the easiest way to do this is by use of technology, but I prefer to save my iPhone for moments of desperation. Based on my own experiences dining out, below are a few activities for technology free entertainment for toddlers, Mom tested and toddler approved!
Coloring with Crayons
You Need: Crayons, paper
As the first line of defense, I would suggest an attempt at coloring and hope your toddler won’t feel compelled to eat the crayons. At the very least, this classic restaurant distraction tool could allow for a few minutes to look at the menu.
You Need: Napkin, crayons
If the crayons have been removed due to attempted ingestion, now it’s time to get creative with napkins. Peek a-boo will get you a few giggles, but a toddler needs more stimulation. With your toddler watching, place the crayons in the center of the napkin, and fold up. “Where did they go?” Have Daddy take a look. Look under, flip upside down, shake it around, and finally unfold to reveal the crayon, “Poof, there it is!” Repeat until the novelty wears off.
Sugar Shaker Band
You Need: Packets of Sugar
Playing with table condiments may be frowned upon, but who said you can’t shake some sugar packets? Hum a little tune or let your little one go wild by shake, shake, shaking! I couldn’t help but join in myself, as my daughter’s smiles and giggles are so contagious!
In & Out
You Need: Diaper bag & contents
Lay out the contents of the diaper bag (a small interior zip pouch works best) on the table and have your toddler place the items back in the bag one by one. “Oohhs” and “Ahhs” prolong the excitement; repeat, repeat, repeat.
Entertaining a toddler isn’t difficult, it just takes a little patience and creativity. In my opinion, dining out with a toddler isn’t about enjoying a quiet meal or a thought provoking conversation, it’s about eating great food with your family! If your meal seems to be heading south despite your efforts, all you need are these two words, “Check, please!”
What is your favorite dining out distraction activity?