Tips for successful dining out with young children | Northern VA Baby Photographer

As a portrait photography studio in Dulles, VA, we work with families and children pretty much on a daily basis. We have learned that the old saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is plain wrong sometimes! We know that when it comes to photography and dining out, it’s more like: “If BABY ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!

We have a lot of experience in keeping children happily occupied – and, it’s all about advance preparation! If you want to eat out successfully with kids, one of the best things you can do is to pack an activity bag. Keep it in your car, stocked and ready to go at all times. Each time you use it, pull out something new to pique your child’s interest.

Here are some tips to eating out with kids and getting to enjoy the experience – yes, we said ENJOY!

1. Pack a cute children’s bag and keep it in the back of your car. It should be a colorful tote or small backpack. Don’t forget to add new items regularly or restock it so the children don’t get bored. Then make a little trip to the dollar store and pick up a small cache of coloring and drawing supplies, tabletop mini-games, small coloring books, and, if they’re old enough, inexpensive children’s books. The items do not need to be expensive. They just need to be entertaining.

2. Keep in mind that young children have a short attention span. Expecting a three- or four-year-old to sit through a two-hour restaurant dinner is simply unrealistic and unfair to both you and the child (and the other diners!). If it’s going to be a longer dinner, be prepared to take your toddler out for a little walk-about.

3. Restaurants are for eating – but when it comes to children, they’re also an excellent opportunity for kids to learn and practice how to behave in public while dining out. We’ve seen parents placate their children to avoid a meltdown. As diners, we appreciate that. However, as mothers who’ve “been there, done that,” it can be the beginning of a tricky path to tread with a child. Allowing your child to misbehave (like throw crayons at other tables and hit other diners; yes, we’ve seen it happen) because you don’t want to say “no” and risk a tantrum is teaching your child that throwing things in a restaurant is acceptable behavior.

4. Avoid the “bewitching hour” as we used to call it. In Spain, families eat at 8 or 9 p.m. It is part of their culture and children are accustomed to it. In this country, it’s a different story. If you are planning to take young children to dinner, you should do it at a reasonable hour and, if possible, at their regular dinner time. If they usually eat around 6 p.m., then you should probably dine out around 6 p.m. Dragging tired and hungry children to a restaurant isn’t fair to them, to you, or, likely, to other diners. In truth, it’s not too dissimilar to when we’re taking maternity pictures of a client in her last months of pregnancy. We know many women aren’t comfortable in those final weeks, so we try to work around their best hours of the day!

5. Enjoy the experience! Parents of only children will tell you that they took their child everywhere. As a result, that child was comfortable in an array of social circumstances. Yes, two is twice the work, but that doesn’t mean twice the misery! Any pediatrician will tell you that if you start early enough with your children, they will adapt. Go ahead and take them out to a restaurant! You don’t need to start at a fancy French restaurant, but you don’t have to relegate yourself to a fast food joint, either. Remember, if you’re relaxed, they will be as well. Go out and be prepared to enjoy some family time!

If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in running a Dulles, VA portrait photography studio, it’s advance preparation is key! We carefully plan out in advance all of our portrait sessions, keeping in mind the family or person whose portraits we are taking. We always suggest to our families with young children to bring a few favorite toys and clean snacks. Remember: If baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!


Baby Photography, Baby Photographer, Portrait Photography Studio

Ever After Baby Portraits is comprised of Mindy Belcher and Joriana Belcher Anderson, a mother-daughter baby photography team located in Dulles, VA in Northern Virginia. In our portrait photography studio, we specialize in timeless and emotive fine art family portraits, including newborn and baby portraits. Family means everything and capturing those precious moments to preserve forever will mean family heirlooms for you to share for years to come.

Mindy & Joriana – Contact Us!

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