Eating out with a newborn is a pure act of bravery. Rebecca O’Farrell shares her tips for making the experience a little easier to manage.
I heard about this scenario recently – a new Mum takes her newborn baby out with her girlfriends for brunch to a posh cafe. Baby is nice and snug in its fancy pants pram. Baby starts to become unsettled, that new born cry starts (you know the one that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck). The Mum continues sipping her latte and gossiping with the girls whilst gently rocking the pram in an attempt to settle the babe. Newborn isn’t having a bar of this and starts ramping up the decibels.
This goes on for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile other diners are becoming a wee bit frazzled and start to make complaints to the staff of the café. As a result, a member of the staff approach the Mum with the newborn and ask if she would mind taking the baby for walk to try and settle the noise down.
The Mum is horrified, believing she is being victimised, promptly leaves the café and claims she had been discriminated against. Meanwhile other diners are relieved, muttering to each other that parents should get takeaways and go to the park with their prams.
When I had my first baby, my sisters-in-law told me that when babies are newborns it’s the easiest time to eat out. “They’ll sleep through your meal” they said, “just put them in the pram or in a bassinet on the floor”. Naively believing them, the husband and I made out first attempt to eat out when our bambino was 2 months old.
Clearly my newborn was nothing like that of my SILs. He most definitely did not sleep through the meal.
We did the right things, I had fed him just before we left the house, he had a clean nappy and we made sure we went when he was due for a sleep. However as soon as we had ordered our meals the squeals began.
As a result the husband and I took turns walking around the block trying to pacify him as we were very self-conscious about our newborn’s scream upsetting other diners.
Between each loop of the block we would try to scoff down our food and then we passed the baton (baby) for the next leg of the relay. Needless to say we didn’t have a long leisurely lunch. Dessert was not contemplated and on the way home the newborn, slept like a baby!
After our second dismal attempt at eating out, we made a decision for our own mental health to wait until our babe was a bit older to try again.
So do crying newborns belong in restaurants?
If you are lucky enough to have the “perfect” baby that will sleep through anything then by all means – go out and eat out often. However if you have a little fuss pot like mine was, then maybe have a big long think about whether or not you should be risking your own sanity and that of other diners by taking bub out.
When you are brave enough to dine out with your newborn, follow some of these tips to make the experience easier for yourself:
- Work with your baby’s routine and feed your babe before you go out: time your meal to coincide with your babe’s sleep.
- Work out what your bambino will sleep in – a pram, bassinet, baby carrier etc.
- Choose a child friendly cafe!
- If you are taking a pram make sure you advise staff when making a booking (yes make a booking!) that you will have a mini tractor with you and ask if possible to be seated near the door so that it is easier to get in out of the venue just in case you need to participate in a relay race.
- Work out what you need to take with you – wipes, spare nappies, change of clothes, dummy, toys etc
- Research your parking options before you go – the closer the better.
- Find out when you arrive if there is somewhere you can change your newborn.
Have some respect for other diners – changing your baby at the table or letting your newborn cry for ages before you attempt to console it, is not exactly being respectful of your fellow diners.
And for crying out loud, if it all goes pear shape, call it quits and ask for a doggy bag to take your much deserved meal home in.