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How to dine out with kids

by ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
| Sunday, November 23, 2014 4:54 p.m.

Dining out with babies and young children is an evergreen topic, awaiting each new outrageous anecdote to surface again.

Parents, you needn’t avoid all restaurants until your children are old enough to demand that their chicken be free-range and their beef grass-fed.

But, oh, yes, you’d better believe a whole bunch of qualifiers accompany that statement.

Here are a few tips to help:

• Find a corner table and box your kids in.

• Choose restaurants that the kids are likely to enjoy.

• When in doubt, call the restaurant ahead of time. Say you’re really interested in dining there but can’t find a baby sitter and were wondering if it would be OK to bring your baby along. It doesn’t hurt to add that you totally understand if the restaurant can’t accommodate you and that you absolutely will give them a try when circumstances permit it.

• Bring a snack for the kid, a toy or two to keep him or her occupied and, above all else, a pacifier. Smartphone app stores offer numerous games to entrance toddlers.• Give the staff profuse thanks for even such simple steps such as bringing your baby a cup of water with a lid and straw. Clean up all the Cheerios your baby will scatter under your table.

• Go early. Is your kid a talker or prone to the occasional shout? Choose a restaurant on the noisy side. (Good news: Most of the hip new restaurants you want to check out are very noisy, indeed.)

• Does the baby need to have his diaper changed? Worried that the restroom won’t have a changing station? Buy a portable changing mat. It folds into your diaper bag. Don’t use it at the table!

• Tip well.

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