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Why toddlers and restaurants don't mix

I'll say it: if your baby is melting down at Din Tai Fung, please pack your wipes and go

The other day, a colleague and I went out to lunch at our favorite restaurant. It had been a long week full of crazy work stress, and we just needed a precious hour to decompress, chat about our lives and stuff our faces with juicy pork dumplings and garlicky green beans. A few tables over, another group of ladies were doing the same thing. There was just one problem: one of them had brought her toddler.

Gina Cohen

Now, listen - before you bring out the pitchforks, I'm a mom, too, and I've been around the block for awhile now. My daughter is 18 and my son is 7. I remember life as a mom to a toddler and though it was mostly an awesome experience, there were definitely moments when I was frazzled and needing a break and would jump at the chance to connect with my friends over a meal.

I would pack bags of Cheerios, a multitude of Puffs, a Costco-sized crate of organic applesauce. I'd bring every set of BPA-free plastic keys and teething rings, every rattling giraffe. My phone was full of 'educational' apps so I could justify electronically pacifying my kid while SuperWhy taught him to read. I brought enough diapers and wipes to clean an entire daycare full of kids well into the next millennium. I. Was. Prepared.

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Even with all my preparation, if, once at the restaurant, my child simply could not deal, I would leave my money with my friends and I'd hightail it outta there.

This was not the case at Din Tai Fung. I watched as this woman's toddler screeched and screamed her way through an entire meal. I sighed a lot. I was not having a fab time. I wanted to enjoy my meal, too, but I couldn't even hear myself think, let alone what my friend was trying to tell me. And yes, I'm guilty - I gave the disapproving dagger eyes to this poor mom who was probably just really exhausted. However, I'm just gonna say it, Top Chef style: if your little one is melting down in a restaurant, please just pack your wipes and go.

I'm sure there are many who disagree with me. Go ahead, let me have it in the comments below, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Find a sitter if you want to enjoy a meal out with your friends - you'll enjoy it more, trust me! Schedule your lunches during a time when your child is well-rested if you must bring them along, but please...if your baby can't hang, it's time to exit stage left and at least let the rest of us enjoy our chicken fried rice.

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Mar 3, 2014 7:17PM
I have twin 2-1/2 year old boys.  We take them almost everywhere, even took them to Europe for 2 weeks last year.  Here is where me and my wife differ at times.  They start to act up or cry first warning goes out.  Second time I'm picking one or both up and into the stroller we go.  I tell my wife to tell the server to box mine up I'm going outside.  Obviously we don't take them to 4 star places but even at Outback/Olive Garden whatever people don't need to hear my kids screaming.  You go out and spend $$ on dinner and some time with your spouse/friends whoever you didn't pay to hear my kid screaming.  I was there 3 years ago before kids I get it.  I also feel sorry for the parents who have kids going nuts and they're trying like hell to deal with them somehow.  What I don't have any sympathy for is the bozo's who completely ignore their little one for the entire meal while all hell breaks loose.  I mean come on try at least to calm them down or take them for a little walk.  Nobody pays for this type of distraction and please for gods sake stop taking them to adult non-animation movies and letting them cry, if you can't afford a babysitter when you want to see a movie then wait until it's on Netflix.
Mar 3, 2014 6:12PM
I have to agree. I'm a mom of 6 kids. 18 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. You need alone time as well as family time. Usually when you have young kids I dare to say the family times will out weigh the alone times for awhile.  If you are going out to have a relaxing meal, then the kids need to not be there. If you want to take your kids out, take them to a kid friendly place until they learn what is expected of them.
Mar 3, 2014 5:24PM
My grandson and I had a couple of "discussions" on behavior after that we could take him any where with no problems.
Mar 3, 2014 5:01PM
You are correct.  Nothing worse than listening to a screaming brat while trying to eat and the mom hasn't got smarts enough to do anything about it.
Mar 3, 2014 4:57PM

I'm a single dad of a now 20 year old and 14 year old.

AMEN! And this is exactly what I did. If I was a very kid friendly place, where this kind of antics and toddler meltdowns could be expected - then I dug in and motored through. But if I was remotely at a place where adults would want to enjoy an adult meal with some adult time - and one of my kids lost it - time to go.

I had to spent the entire showing of Stomp once in the lobby because my 3 year old daughter at the time simply wanted to run around in the lobby. Bringing her into the theater, regardless of what was going on, brought on squirming and then howls within 60 seconds of being in her seat. My son sat with grandma and loved the show.

Oh well - why ruin the enjoyment of 1,199 other people in a 1,200 seat theater?

I wish more parents thought like you.

Ya - bring on the pitch forks!

Mar 3, 2014 4:28PM

I seem to attract crying babies, ill or screaming toddlers wherever I go to have a nice meal by myself, with my husband, or family.  It is just sickening how rude parents can be to be silent and sit still while their children are screaming and misbehaving while others are trying to have a nice meal.  If your children start to cry, take them outside and if they can't behave, take them home.  Next time, get a babysitter. 


Also, it never ceases to amaze me that parents take their kids along with them to the most inappropriate events---- I have been to operas, with toddlers and babies sitting in front of me, to plays, to late night concerts, to parties --- why in the world would these people do such a thing to their kids and to us???? If they can't find a babysitter - stay home!!!!

Mar 3, 2014 4:19PM
Not to mention the poor server who has to clean up after them. Make sure you get the squished green beans off the floor before they dry and turn to concrete. There are more pieces of french fries in the floor than went in the toddler's stomach. All the greasy fingerprints on the seats, windows and doors.
My 30 year old son once said that children should not be let out in public until they reach age 13. Sometimes I agree. However, I also have had times when the children made less of a mess than the adults.

Mar 3, 2014 4:10PM


i'm a mom of 2 boys now 25 &19!! i was not afraid to take my boys in a bathroom or car& issue a little corp. punishment!!! so today my children suffer from a condition called "respect for others" aww so sad! i personally request that our server sits us nowhere near anyone underthe age of 12! I used to think it was lil children I didn't like but have come to realize it's the crappy ignorant parents I can't stand! If your not going to be a real parent STOP having kids!!!!

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