Ask the Experts: Dining out with Baby - MetroFamily Magazine
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Ask the Experts: Dining out with Baby

We asked local experts to weigh in on their best tips for dining out with your baby.

To find more answers to other common parenting questions, check out our collection of Ask the Experts.


Sunshine Cowan: My husband and I like to think of ourselves as foodies, although that’s not really the case. With that said, we do work to expose our children to a variety of foods, and quite often, we ask them to try things that are not on the kids’ menu. Our son is currently the most adventurous eater of the two, enjoying bulgogi when we are in Seoul and sushi at any point in time. He is willing to take one bite of something to determine whether or not he wants more. Our daughter is a bit more cautious when it comes to her food choices. She, like so many chefs remind us, eats with her eyes. If it looks different, she is likely to turn it down, without becoming a member of the “one bite club.”

How did we get here? We established the same eating habits with both of our children: healthy foods, offered in a variety of ways, where children decide how much to eat as outlined by every Registered Dietitian we know. We started with avocados that we would haul to restaurants and feed our little ones when they first began eating solid foods while we ate off the menu. We would give them bites off our plate to try, always having their beloved avocado as a back-up. As each grew, we encouraged them to try new things and reminded each that taste buds change.

Having two children has taught me what most parents of more than one child discover: they are their own people. They come to us with a personality and temperament all their own, and what works to encourage one child will cause another to shut down completely.

My goal as a new parent was to expose my child to new tastes, textures and foods, and to encourage them to experience cultures in this way. That technique worked for our oldest. For our youngest, she is far happier eating the same thing, the one in which she is familiar and knows she likes, and the one that just happens to be on the kids’ menu. She finds her adventure in other ways.

Dr. Sunshine Cowan is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma where she coordinates the Community/Public Health program. Although she teaches many courses in her role with the university, one of her favorites is a course on human development. Sunshine has been married to the love of her life, Jerel Cowan, for more than 20 years; together they have two children, Canyon and Ponder.


Thai-An Truong: What helped us was knowing that it's not always going to go smoothly and that does not reflect your parenting abilities or your baby. Babies and toddlers are like cavemen and don't have clue about social norms. We brought snacks to keep our daughter occupied while we were waiting on food. Or you could bring something you know will keep their interest like a book, toy, coloring sheet or sometimes it's just you. This means you may have to accept that you'll sometimes take turns eating and entertaining baby.

Thai-An Truong is a therapist and mother who is passionate about helping pregnant and postpartum parents overcome depression and anxiety so they can feel like themselves again and enjoy life with their baby and family. After overcoming her own battle with postpartum depression and anxiety, she opened Lasting Change Therapy, LLC in South Oklahoma City to dedicate her counseling services to helping families recover. For more information, visit  www.lastingchangetherapy.com


Kathryn Konrad: When your baby eats solids, eating is an adventure! Taking your baby out to eat can be fun but it can also be stressful. Be prepared! Bring a sippy cup, a bib (or two), wipes and diapers. Bring a toy or book that your baby can play with while waiting.

Ask for a corner table or a table away from crowds. Dining at off times can cut down wait times. But be wary of taking your baby out to eat at nap time which may lead to an upset baby!

“Kid-friendly” or “family-friendly” does not mean you have to eat “kid food”. Many restaurants are “kid-friendly.” If your baby is eating solid foods, they should be able sit in high chair, but you might consider holding your baby (or having another family member or friend) until the food comes. Babies typically only enjoy sitting in the high chair for a limited time.

Everyone has heard a crying baby so stay calm and, most importantly, have fun!

Kathryn Konrad is a maternal newborn nurse, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and an assistant professor at The University of Oklahoma Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing. Since 2000, she has worked in labor and delivery, childbirth education, community education/outreach and nursing education. Konrad loves working with moms and babies and lives in Edmond with her husband and 9 year old son.


Dr. Kelly Stephens: Taking foods that can be eaten at the table with you means baby doesn’t have to wait to order. It is also important to consider other people around you. Be ready and willing to leave if you need to. Babies can learn to sit nicely at the table, but I wouldn’t try it first at a fancy ‘adult’ restaurant.

Dr. Kelly Stephens, III has been practicing for 30 years and specializes in pediatrics at Mercy Clinic Primary Care I-35 Edmond.  He says, “seeing kids grow up and overcome problems, while watching parents get more adept at handling their little bundles of joy, these are the true rewards of my calling.” Learn more about Dr. Stephens at www.mercy.net/doctor/kelly-stephens-iii-md.


 


 

To find more answers to other common parenting questions, check out our collection of Ask the Experts.