How young is too young?
On my friendly, neighborhood Chowhound site, someone asked for a recommendation for a family get together -- an 8-month-old, the 'rents, and the grandfather. We all rallied to find something that would suit them, but I got to thinking -- How young is too young to take to a restaurant?
Should this family have baby-sat the kid, and enjoyed themselves as adults? Should they have taken the 8-month-old out, and lowered everyone's expectations?
I believe in teaching your kids to eat out by taking them out, avoiding chains and fast food, to family friendly restaurants, but not until they're old enough to understand the lessons you're trying to teach them. Is 8-months-old too young?
"an 8-month-old, the 'rents, and the grandfather"
Sounds like a family affair to me....why wouldn't the baby be included?
There are times when it's appropriate to bring a child of any age (even infants) and times when it's not appropriate to bring anyone under 21. In this particular situation, it sounds like they wanted to find a place where the entire family could spend time together and not have to clean up after. That's a real treat for parents of small children!!
a well behaved or contented baby or small child in a restaurant at lunch time or before 6 or 7 pm ish is great, as long as the child is either eating or playing quietly at the table such as coloring. Good parents deal with a fractious child immediately, do not change diapers at the table (seen this!) and take the child out when it really starts grizzling or running about or having a tantrum.
I don't like seeing young children at high end restaurants at night but that's my personal thing - but I have seen some terrific kids in expensive restaurants. It all depends on the parents and the kids and the moment.
I'm not sure why you'd have to lower your expectations to take a baby to a restaurant. If it's a family get together, it seems like the main goal is to see the entire family, baby included. There are plenty of delicious (non-chain) restaurants that are baby friendly and will happily provide high chairs. Taking small children out can be a great way to expose them to new food, so even though they may not be learning table manners, they are still getting the opportunity to try new types of food they may not get to try at home.