With a toddler restaurant kit you can enjoy your dining experience tantrum free!

Toddler Restaurant Kit

Before I ever created a Toddler Restaurant Kit going out to eat was not exactly a fun experience for me. Actually, the thought of it caused me some serious anxiety.

I think us moms are always thinking ahead to the next moment/melt down and trying to be prepared, like a ninja. Despite my preparedness instincts it took me a while to realized that I needed to prepare to go out to eat.

Until one marvelous day I saw an idea and I ran with it. Then the Toddler Restaurant Kit was born and dining out has never been the same (thank God for that).

The items I have chosen are age appropriate and all have a purpose. As a former teacher I know that if you meet children at their level they are more likely to engage in independent play for a longer period of time. This is exactly what you want when you’re focus is not 100% on your child (aka you’re trying to get your grub on).

Here is everything I use for our kit. I switch things out from time to time to prevent boredom, so I’ve included some rotation ideas as well. But, I stick to the same type of item when I rotate our Toddler Restaurant Kit.

With a toddler restaurant kit you can enjoy your dining experience tantrum free! *Affiliate links included at no extra cost to you.*

Toddler Restaurant Kit:

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #1 – Metal Lunch Box

A metal lunch box is my preferred carrier for all the items. There are two reasons why…

toddler restaurant kit

Reason 1: It’s the perfect size!

It’s just the right size for all the items I need for our kit. The perfect size also allows for my son to carry it and for me to not add it to my diaper bag of 10,000 things.

Reason 2: It’s magnetic!

Magnetic ability is key because we need that for item #2 items!

Read: Toddler Schedules That Make Your Day Go Smoothly

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #2 – Magnets

Magnets are like a little piece of magic. Kids are usually mystified by them for a while(read, giving you more time to enjoy your appetizer). I mean after all, what makes them stick(asking for a friend)?!

I start with letter and number magnets. Then as time goes on and my son gets bored with them. I switch it up to some of these type of magnets:

Ideas for Magnet Rotations:

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #3 – Pom Poms

God bless pom poms. They’re super cheap for a ton of them and the options are endless! Here are some simple things your little one can do with pom poms:

Ideas for Pom Pom activities:

  • Use tweezers to put them in a container.

  • Make a design.

  • Sort them by color.

  • Count them(even if it’s 1,2,3)

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #4 – tweezers

Tweezers are a great way to get your toddler to work on their motor skills. Using them promotes hand eye coordination and works on their strength/grip. Here are things to do with tweezers:

Ideas for Tweezer Activities:

  • Put pom poms in a container(plate or cup already on the table).

  • Pick up a wadded up napkin and put it on a plate.

  • Pick up a crayon and then release.

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #5 – Small Doodle Pad

Having something to write on is a staple item in the Toddler Restaurant Kit. This one never changes because it’s always needed and super versatile. Things to do with a Small Doodle Pad:

Ideas for Small Doodle Pad:

  • Let toddler do free draw.

  • You draw shapes and ask toddler to identify.

  • Trace items from Toddler Restaurant Kit.

  • Tear out paper and fold(Show toddler how to fold. This is a great fine motor skill activity).

  • Let toddler experiment with wadding up the paper and the different texture results from wadding.

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #6 – Crayons

Crayons are just a must for any kid. I love the bigger ones for toddlers so they can grip them better. Here are some ways to extend crayons:

Ideas to Extend Crayon Activities:

  • Ask your toddler to pick up a certain color(ex: Which one is blue?)

  • Ask toddler to tell you the color of the crayon they are holding?

  • Ask their favorite crayon color?

  • Ask which color they want you to use?

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #7 – Play-Doh

Play-doh is an awesome way for your child to work on their fine motor skills, strengthen their hand and build their pre-writing abilities all while having fun. Plus, they’re great at keeping toddlers busy after they finished their meal in point two seconds but you are still on your second bite of salad.

Ideas for Play-Doh Activities:

  • Cut the Play-Doh with the butter knife (under your supervision).

  • Use Cookie Cutters to make different shapes. 

  • Roll the Play-Doh into a ball then ask them to smash it down like a pancake. 

  • Pick it up with their tongs.

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #8 – Manipulatives

As a former teacher I’m a huge fan of manipulative. I started with these Counting Bears because they are very simple and offer a variety of activites. I ask my son to give me a certain color, group colors together or just let him have free play.

Ideas for Manipulative Rotation:

Read: Indoor Toddler Activities

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #9 – Learning Toy

Any type of toy that also offers a learning benefit always gets me super pumped(I’m Lindsey and I’m a nerd). This wooden cheese toy is exactly the type of toy I nerd out about.


The holes allows your kiddo to lace the mouse through. This keeps them busy for a long time and challenges their hand, eye coordination.

Educational Toys for Rotation:

Toddler Restaurant Kit Item #10 – Stickers

Stickers are just straight up fun! Toddlers love the challenge of pulling them of then getting to decide where to put them. Or if you want to direct them where to put it that’s another thing the doodle pad is good for!

Other Sticker Ideas:

Bonus

Snacks! The answers to everything is snack! Here are my favorite easy, on the go snacks.

With this Toddler Restaurant Kit I am now able to go out to eat with my family anxious free (at least most of the time). Going out to eat as a family should be enjoyable for everyone, including you mama! Happy dining!

Because Every Day Above Dirt is a Good Day,

-Lindsey

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Toddler Restaurant Kit Ideas

14 thoughts on “Toddler Restaurant Kit”

  1. This is so perfect! I wonder if there is a quieter way to do the magnetic part, so this could be used during sermons? I also love Melissa and Doug water pads. They have a little brush in the end instead of the Crayola kind that little ones can break the tip off of. My daughter loves them. Thanks for the great post!

    1. imarkinteractive

      That’s a great idea!! I’m a preacher’s kid, so I actually would have loved that idea when I was little. 🙂

  2. This is a fantastic idea. I worked 7 years as a preschool teacher and I have also been a waitress, so I have a perspective of what kids need to sit still at a table and also how most people dining out deal with their kids. I dont know why more parents don’t do this. It’s much better for the child than an iPad or phone (toddlers shouldnt be watching videos and playing games too much). I have never actually seen a parent bring an activity for their child to use at the restaurant, but I did see in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, a parent who brought books for their kid to read, and that toddler was much better behaved than the kids who were allowed to get bored. When a kid gets bored, that’s usually when they act out or get into things they shouldn’t, which makes dining out with them stressful. I once went to dinner with a mom who couldn’t even sit at the table for more than 2 minutes because her toddler wanted to be up and exploring the whole restaurant. Imagine if she had a restaurant kit how much better the dinner would have been!

    1. Thank you so much Wendy!! You definitely have a good perspective on this. I bet you’ve seen all kinds of situations as a waitress!! I honestly don’t go anywhere without our kit. It’s saved us on more than one occasion for sure!!

  3. As a mom, former preschool, and kindergarten teacher, I’d say these are fantastic ideas. My only concern would be the things that drop on the floor. Mom or Dad are going to have to be diligent about catching things before they hit the floor.

  4. How old is your toddler? Mine is 18 months. I have a hard time playing with pom poms at home, I cannot imagine bringing them to a restaurant! Lol. I think the idea of having a restaurant ready kit, is genius! Thank you for the idea, if you happen to have anymore ideas for the younger tots, please share!! 😊

    1. Hey Briana, he’s 2. Every child is different. If you don’t feel like your child is ready for pom poms in public you can always substitute it with another activity. Things like Duplo Blocks or foam magnets/letters would be a way that they can still work on fine motor skills but not have as small of objects to be working with (like pom poms). Or you could use straws and have your child put them in a cup. Same sort of concept as the pom pom activity but with a bigger object. I hope these help Briana!

  5. Love your ideas, Lindsey! My toddler likes to throw things which makes activities a challenge for us. He likes to play with balls so I think he believes that everything is a ball and should bounce, right? Haha.. I think I’ll try the magnet idea to try to help with the impulsive throwing. Do you have any suggestions for this throwing dilemma? I’m terrified he’s going to throw something one day and hit a fellow restaurant customer in the head. I rarely go out because of this fear, but I know I can’t keep us locked away forever. Thank you for your thoughts!
    *Samantha- https://herjournal.blog

    1. haha, Samantha I totally get that fear! My son loves to throw things as well! What I’ve done (over and over again) is to tell him the rules. “We throw balls. We don’t throw spoons (insert non throwable object).” Then if he throws the non throwable object I’d take it away for a bit and tell him that you need to hold it for a while since he threw it and that’s not safe. I hope this helps. Believe me, it’s a process that I still repeat but they definitely to catch on! Oh and the magnets would be a great place to start!

  6. Ohmygosh we need to get some of these to try for eating out. My son is almost 2 and DOES. NOT. SIT. STILL. We stopped going out to eat with him because my husband and I NEVER got to sit at the table together, so why pay money for a nice meal to eat separately?? My son thinks it’s his job to walk in between all the tables and say hi to people. Good thing it’s cute when he’s still so little.

    I do often wonder if we’re too easy on him and if we should just lay down the law and make him sit… but I literally don’t know how to do that – he gets up from every high chair and climbs out of his stroller and just gets so upset that he’ll start coughing and throwing up from crying.

    Ahhh, toddlers. 🙂

    1. I totally get you!!! My son was very similar!! And honestly I just pick my battles. I also go to the Toddler Restaurant Kit first and that usually entertains for a good bit. Especially if you keep a rotation going after they get bored of certain items. But we have definitely let our son walk around or walk around with him. He also loves to say hi to people and it’s so sweet. They are just at such a loving age! I will have to say with time his ability to sit will increase. When we go out now there is way less getting down than there used to be. I’d say it’s a balance of sit in your chair some and then let’s walk around. He’ll eventually learn that when you go out to eat you are supposed to stay in your chair. But like most good things, it takes time! 🙂

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