Eating Out

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It’s a Friday night. Absolutely, positively no babysitters are available. You can’t even look at the container of leftovers in your fridge, and the thought of running to Villa, cooking and cleaning is just out of the question. There’s only one thing left to do: you’re going out for dinner and you’re taking the little one with you.

Eating out with kids in Bangkok Thialand

As any new parent will tell you, dining with a toddler in tow is no easy task, especially in Bangkok. Yes, there are some children who seem prenatally disposed to sit quietly and enjoy a wide variety of sophisticated foods. But let’s be honest: most of us do not have kids like this. The majority of our kids start to fidget after 20 minutes, and by the time the main courses roll around, they’re ready to squirm right out of their chairs. To make matters worse, children have hypersensitive tastebuds, meaning that they’re generally not too fond of anything spicy/bitter/strongly flavored or even just unfamiliar. Time after time, we’ve watched parents struggle desperately to convince a child to eat their food while other patrons glare (and to the couples sitting across the room with a three-year-old happily munching on oysters, well, good for you).

Don’t despair though. Eating out in Thailand needn’t always be an ordeal. Here are a few ways to make things just a little bit easier.

  1. Bring entertainment. One of the biggest obstacles to a pleasant dining experience is that the average child’s attention span isn’t anywhere near the average length of a dinner. Plan for the night the way you would plan for a lengthy road trip. Coloring books and crayons get you a long way with young kids, while the slightly more sophisticated Anti-Coloring Books (US$14.99; available at amazon.com) will appeal to older children. Or consider simple, portable games like Magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe (US$11.99; available at amazon.com).
  2. Stick to the familiar, but not too familiar. Most toddlers are inherently suspicious of new foods. After a brief period of trying to put everything into their mouths as infants, these slightly older children tend to pick a few favorite “safe” foods and turn their noses up at everything else. Unfortunately, eating an endless rotation of the same food groups can get hopelessly boring for parents. To avoid five years of plain spaghetti and pizza, try to find kid-friendly items in different kinds of cuisines. For instance, if they like grilled cheese sandwiches, order cheese naan at an Indian restaurant like Indus (71 Sukhumvit Soi 26; 66-2/661-5279; indusbangkok.com), or if they want plain chicken, go for the shawarma at a Lebanese spot like Nadimos (Sukhumvit Soi 24; 66-2/261-9816-7; nadimos.com). Meanwhile, order a bunch of other, more adventurous items for the table and encourage kids to try them if they would like to.
  3. Do a test run. Going out can be an overwhelming experience for kids. To minimize stress, try introducing foods in a familiar setting beforehand. If there’s a restaurant you really crave, try using ChefsXPress, Food By Phone or Food Panda to get it delivered to your house first.
  4. Have an exit strategy. All right, let’s say you’ve done everything you can and it just isn’t working. Maybe it’s been a long day or maybe your young one has simply had enough. Whatever the reason, when they start throwing a tantrum and just won’t stop, it’s time to gracefully admit defeat and flee the scene. This is where it pays to choose places that are relatively close to your home. You can always venture further afield when your child is just a bit older.

Photo Credit: Tetra Pak via Compfight cc

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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