Restaurant Survival Kit for Toddlers

Are you planning on heading out to a nice dinner with family or friends….and toddlers? If so, take a deep breath and know you can do this. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

I’m sure you have seen the look of desperation on the faces of parents with toddlers who are misbehaving in public. It can be incredibly embarrassing. But a little preparation goes a long way.

All parents deserve to have a nice meal in a restaurant, and there isn’t any reason why you can’t bring the whole family along. It will be a challenge for sure, but you can’t go wrong with these tips for dining with a toddler.

Restaurant Survival Kit for Toddlers

It’s key to remember a few things before you even leave for the restaurant. Is your toddler tired, or are they going to be missing nap time? It’s best to try to go anywhere with a well-rested toddler, or you are looking for trouble.

Is your toddler hungry? Don’t expect your toddler to have patience for their meal to arrive if they are starving. Try feeding your toddler a snack before you head out, so she isn’t having a temper tantrum while waiting for food.

Is your toddler feeling sick? Even a case of the sniffles can throw everyone for a loop when a toddler is involved. So don’t drag your sick kiddo out to a restaurant and expect a perfect dining experience.

However, if your toddler is happy and healthy, then going out to eat can be much fun if you are prepared. This is why you need a restaurant survival kit.

 A survival kit will give your child something to keep them busy so you can enjoy your meal (or at least try). You already bring a diaper bag with you, so why not pack a special bag for your child?

Planning is Everything

Toddlers get bored easily, especially with the same toys. When making your restaurant survival kit, consider including things that your toddler doesn’t usually have access to.

Limit the kit as something special that only gets played with at restaurants, so your child has something to look forward to. And keep it interesting. Change things out now and then, freshen it up with different toys and activities.

It’s also a great idea to check the dining establishment’s menu out before you arrive. Know exactly what you want to order, so it doesn’t take as long. Then you can order as soon as the waitress comes to speed things up.

If you can hold off strapping your child down in their highchair for a bit, try that. Toddlers don’t do well sitting in one place for a long time so let them sit on your lap for a time before the meal comes.

When putting your kit together, start by using a bag or zip-up kit made of plastic. It’s easily cleaned, and you can replace it as needed. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on the bag itself.

As mentioned before, choose to fill the kit with things that your child doesn’t normally play with—pack one or two colorful books that aren’t part of his or her regular collection. Many stores sell little painting pads that use only a pen filled with water, so there is no mess.

Pack a small tin filled with different fidget toys to keep your child busy. How about a tin filled with toy animals or cars? Pack a special doll that only gets to come to restaurants.  

A few sheets of new stickers that your child can place on a piece of paper can occupy kids for a while. Flashcard games with pictures keep your toddler engaged in learning.

Don’t forget to pack wet wipes and a few favorite snacks as well. A bag of Cheerios or Goldfish should do the trick. Make sure you have a clean sippy cut in there as well.

A package of antibacterial wipes is good, too, so you can wipe the restaurant tables off before your child starts putting their hands all over it.

One Must-Have Item

If there is one thing you need to have at all costs, I would say crayons and a coloring book. If nothing else, these will usually do the trick. At least for a little while.

Thankfully most kid-friendly eateries carry these on hand if you’ve forgotten.

My List of Essential Items for your Survival Kit

  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Picture Books
  • Play Dough
  • Mess-Free Painting Kits
  • Fidget Toys
  • Toy animals
  • Toy Cars
  • Small toy dolls
  • Flashcards
  • Stickers and a Place to Put them
  • Small Tin of Building Blocks
  • Wet Wipes
  • Clean Sippy Cup
  • Bag of Snacks


As long as you know beforehand that taking a toddler anywhere is never easy, there is a lot you can do to make sure that your child enjoys themselves as much as possible.  Remember, a well-rested, non-starving, and healthy toddler will do much better than a tired kid who is hungry or coming down with a cold.

By taking the time to plan accordingly, going out to eat with your toddler can be something, you can do with confidence. Plan a perfect restaurant survival kit with these easy ideas to ensure entertainment for your child.  

And remember to relax. Toddlers pick up on our stress, and if Mom and Dad are tense or filled with trepidation, chances are your dinner will not go well.

And if you have everything planned and you just get a sense that your toddler is going to be difficult, don’t force it. It’s better to reschedule your plans or get a sitter because forcing anything with a pint-sized person is going to backfire.

I’m hopeful that these ideas give you the inspiration and creativity you need to plan out a restaurant survival kit for your child. Because going out with family is important, it’s a good idea to make your toddler feels they can be part of the fun as well.

So, smile, have confidence, and you will do fine.

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