Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Toddlers in Restaurants February 24, 2011

Filed under: Children,Current Affairs — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: ,

This article was posted on the BBC website, but I know it’s a discussion that is happening all over the place. Should parents take toddlers and babies into restaurants?


My feeling on this is, generally, no. And this is an opinion I formed while I was still planning on having little ones of my own.


Kids get hungry, cranky, and whiny. They scream at inappropriate times and they don’t like to sit still. They’re children, after all, not small adults. Taking them into a restaurant (and by restaurant, I mean somewhere that doesn’t specifically cater to kids and families) isn’t appropriate, unless you can be absolutely certain your little one knows how to behave (and I think that’s too much to ask of a three-year old) or you’re willing to interrupt your own dinner to take your child outside until he or she blows through the tantrum. I’ve seen many parents bring children to resturants and deal with them appropriately. And I’ve seen plenty who haven’t. For example, letting your antsy toddler loose to run around the tables is not only rude, it’s dangerous. Having waited tables for a living at one time, I know that it’s hard enough to keep hot food and sloshy drinks upright, without having to keep an eye open for errant toddlers.


I understand that parents want a social life, need to get out, deserve a night out even, but that’s what babysitters are for. And if you’re not comfortable hiring someone to take care of your child, then really, you need to stay home.


Having children is a big, responsible job and it comes with lots of sacrifices, not least of which is having to give up on dinner-for-two in a romantic bistro. And if you were a parent who hired a sitter so you could enjoy a quiet night out, would you appreciate having to listen to the cries of someone else’s offspring?


It all comes down to basic respect and consideration – something parents should be teaching their children by example.


9 Responses to “Toddlers in Restaurants”

  1. Kate B Says:


  2. Marcie Says:

    I agree. I mentioned this and other places that I believe children (young children) shouldn’t be on a previous WW post. So many times I’ve seen parents take their children someplace without bringing them something to keep them busy. They expect them to sit quietly. Everytime I take a trip I see children in the airport and on the plane without toys or books to keep them busy. Then when they try to keep themselves busy with inappropriate things (trash on the floor, the stroller, business signs, etc.) they get yelled at and/or spanked. If parents can’t leave them home they should brings things to keep them occupied!

  3. Mali Says:

    I agree.

    Last year in NZ there was a debate about this. A woman began a policy in her cafe that children were only allowed if they were well-behaved. There was a huge out-cry by upset mothers. But she defended herself and her business, and her examples of outrageous behaviour by parents and children garnered a lot of support and sympathy.

  4. Elena Says:

    about two years ago a hip Café/Bar – Place in Zurich issued a policy asking women not to breast-feed their babies in the Café. Which was immediately followed by a huge outcry.
    I just can’t understand how a woman wants to bear her breasts in such a public place. To me it goes in the same category as toddlers in the restaurant: If you can do it without disturbing other non-parents in the place, if you use a minimum of thinking about others, try to organizes some decency, it’s not a problem. But with an “i’m allowed to behave however i want since i’m a mother”-attitude, which some (not all!) women have, it’s just becomes disrespectful easily.
    But i don’t dare say anything about public breast-feeding anymore: It is invariably followed by the “oh you don’t understand”-comment. No chance.

  5. Here! Here! TOTALLY agree!

  6. Mrs. Gamgee Says:

    I’ve always thought I had an opinion about this topic, but now that I’m a new parent, I find that some of my opinions are changing. Yes, I agree that you shouldn’t expect adult behavior from babies or toddles, and there are certain times and places where it’s inappropriate for children to be present. What I take issue with is when, as a parent you are somewhere that it should be okay (like a casual family dining establishment or the mall) for a baby to cry or a toddler to fuss a bit, and you get dirty looks. Yes, it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach a child appropriate behavior, but the reality is there will be melt downs. And honestly, having worked in retail for more than a decade, I have seen some adults behave worse than preschoolers in public. If we all cut each other a bit of slack and use a little common sense we’d all get along just fine.

    My apologies for the soapbox-ing.

  7. Sue Says:

    I completely agree. Having children comes with great responsibility and sacrifice. My thought had always been that if the restaurant has paper placemats and crayons available for children, those would be the kinds of restaurants I would choose to bring our children to, you know, Chilli’s and such. We would also have limited those outings to once or twice a month. If my husband and I wanted to have dinner at a nicer restaurant, we would have to get a sitter, or we could just get the meal to go and try to have a nice dinner at home, perhaps after the children went to bed. Parents should realize most couples are at those restaurants for their own quiet night out, and are perhaps celebrating an anniversary or a birthday. I wouldn’t want to be a person who would chance ruining a special evening for someone else because I couldn’t or didn’t want to get a sitter.

  8. Rach Says:

    well said.

    we’ve been out to dinner before and a couple has turned up, their two children in tow. the kids were bored and were getting told off for not behaving but seriously what did the parents expect?

    the kids then started running around and screaming and i’m sorry but i don’t pay good money to eat out to then have my evening pierced by shrieks from children. i shot the parents “looks” and was actually VERY vocal to Guv about how annoying it was. if they felt offended, I don’t care, my evening was ruined.

    and while yes i agree with Mrs Gamgee that children DO act up, i do not appreciate children screaming shopping centres down either while their parents just stand by and do nothing – that’s just rude and yes i will say something to you about your precious child if you do nothing to control their behaviour.


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