Wednesday, June 29th, 2005
Managing an Infant at Restaurants
Some new parents become shut-ins because their babies are loud,
drooling, cranky monsters. Not us. We began our return to the Real
World three days after birth by eating at an outdoor burger
joint during off hours. Over the following months our confidence grew
until we had returned to all of our old haunts. Thankfully, Little Miss
is (knock on wood) well behaved. We never bring a toy to entertain
her, just our diaper backpack. Is that what the parents book advise? I
don’t know, but I’ve quickly learned to deal with my surroundings.
- Hunger cries are silenced with a jar of baby food or cup of Cheerios.* Mom can hold LM in her sling and feed or nurse before the grown-up food arrives. Dad or Mom can also sit her on a knee while the other adult does the spoon work.
- All other causes of crying are resolved with a restaurant napkin or an unsheathed straw. LM loves to crinkle napkins (or paper in a car seat). Straws are fun to bend and wave.* Distraction and captive attention work wonders with baby temperament.
- A waitress at a Chinese restaurant gave us a small take-out box with a fortune cookie enclosed as a makeshift (and fairly quiet) rattle.
- Don’t sweat dirty looks from other restaurant patrons. We still get a few glances when LM is clean and quiet. A guy has to be pretty cranky to crinkle his brow at the sight of a baby in a family restaurant. Just stick your tongue out.
- Don’t even think about dining before nap time.
- Mom and Dad must keep Little Miss engaged. Food gets eaten. Napkins ripped up. Straws dropped on the floor. Treating LM as part of the conversation, talking to her and making faces maintains her interest and steers her clear of outbursts.
* Note: Little Miss is the smartest baby in the world. If your baby chokes on
Cheerios, gets a paper cut or gags on a straw, don’t blame me.