My husband and I have always loved going out to restaurants to eat, so when we had our first child it was important to us to keep being able to do this. Our now much loved ‘Restaurant bag’ started out it’s life as our changing bag and was initially filled with nappies, wet wipes and changes of clothes. As time went on we started adding toys into it and now it stays in the car and is only used when we go into restaurants or anywhere else where it’s handy to have some extra entertainment. This means that the toys aren’t used that much so the smalls are generally pretty excited to use everything in there. Pop beads are my favourite new addition and keep my son and daughter entertained for a long time.
Here are some ideas of things you could put in your bag according to your child’s age:
It can seem quite daunting taking a toddler out to eat and some parents are totally put off so don’t even attempt it. I always tried to make sure my little ones had had a good amount of time to be free, running or crawling about to burn off some of that restless energy directly before we went into a restaurant, this made getting them to stay in a highchair for a bit longer more achievable. Things I put in my bag at this age included:
- Toy cars, which my son has always been obsessed with.
- We had a travel game of connect 4 which my children loved. This needs close supervision as the pieces are quite small but is great for refining motor skills as they have to really concentrate on getting the coins into the slot.
- Aqua doodle mat. These are fab as your children can be creative without actually creating any mess!
- Peg Puzzles
- Busy boards
- Sensory toys like the Lamaze toys, the ones that can be clipped onto things like pushchairs, car seats and highchairs are great as you don’t spend most of your time picking them up off the floor to give back to them.
- Touchy feely books, like the ‘that’s not my’ range.
3-5 year olds
Things can start getting easier at this age, but being prepared for boredom is an extra way to ensure you all enjoy your meal out. Things I put in the bag for this age included:
- Pop beads – these are one of the best things we have had! This is a jewellwry making kit, but the beeds pop together so they can be reused again and again.
- Threading toys are great for children entertained. They are fantastic for hand-eye co-ordination and concentration skills.
- Polly pocket – These are one of our most recent additions and both of my children love them.
- Build your own modelling kits – The kind that you get in your Christmas stocking, like a build your own toy car kit.
- Dobble – My four year old is amazing at this game! It’s a good one for all ages (including adults) and is a quite compact so a good one to keep in the bag.
- Uno – My two are a bit young to play the normal rules but are just learning. We have played it just by using the colours and it has worked really well.
- Sticker books. When sticker books like football and lego ones come out I always try and put these in our bags and store the sticker packs up.
- Travel games like travel jenga, guess who and dominoes are all great.
- Wipe clean activity books are brilliant. We got ones that taught them how to write numbers and letters to begin with.
- Colouring books can be a great addition, but if you are short on space then maybe leave these out as lots of restaurants offer children colouring pencils and activity sheets.
- Top Trump Cards - My son has recently discovered Top trump cards and they are a huge hit! You can get cards on almost any topic and the cards are compact so can be kept easily in a bag.
So there are my top items to take with you. If you have any other great tips or toys you take with you I would love to here them.
*Disclosure - some of the links in this post will be affiliate links. I NEVER choose to link to these products because of the comissions they pay, only ever because I want to share the benefits I’ve had with them, with you.
Cover photo by By Monkey Business Images in Canva