Over lunch today at Ollie Club HQ we got talking about our favorite tactics for dining out with small kids. We laughed – before kids, we used to frequent our favorite restaurants on weekends, date nights and vacations. Now the thought of eating out with children feels daunting! But actually, sitting down at a restaurant is a fun way to teach your child about eating with others1Here are our top-voted tips!  

  1. Prep! You can try a dress rehearsal at home. Stuffed animals or siblings can be invited to a pretend tea party or snack time. Kids can practice sitting still, waiting for food or even being the waiter. Make sure you are clear about how you want them to behave at the restaurant beforehand.
  1. Your choice! Pick restaurants that have plenty of chatter and buzz, so noisy kids can blend in. Book a table in advance and try for an early slot to beat the crowds for quicker food service. It’s hard on everyone waiting with hungry kids.
  1. On arrival! Request a breadbasket or nibbles as soon as you arrive. This keeps kids entertained while ordering. The restaurant might offer kids’ activity books, but take a coloring book or some stickers as backup. The Ollie storybooks can be a great primer to guess what super-powers they might get from their food at the restaurant.   
  1. SizesMany restaurants offer children’s meals, but you can also ask for half portions or appetizers – as they can be healthier options that aren’t salty or deep-fried. I really love tapas menus or a sharing approach to give kids a chance to try different foods or share what the adults are eating2 
  1. Fun at Heart! The goal is to have a good time. It’s okay if they leave food on their plate. Lower your expectations as they are in a new environment with lots of distractions. If kids are getting tired or frayed, it’s okay to leave early and come back another time. The real takeaway is a good experience.
  1. Chit-chat. Make it a special family night. Use the time to focus on your kids. Talk about what they did today, tell a silly joke or a game of eye-spy. This helps the family time be as good as the food tastes!

Tip: Eat out at your children’s mealtime, not at your own. Children respond well to routine and knowing what is happening and when3 

Printable coloring sheet: Ollie & Me: What’s on my plate?!
Post your child’s coloring and win a signed copy of the storybook Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate! Share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #ollieclub!
Click here to download pdf


Want to eat with your kids, but not quite ready to try a meal out yet?  Try our breakfast pancakes for a fun family meal at home and pretend it is a café. The kids can make-believe they are the waiter and take the orders.  

Breakfast Pancake Recipe: This is one of my favorite recipes. A regular treat in our house and great when people are visiting for weekend brunch! I make extra pancakes and freeze them. They are good microwave emergency treats. The recipe portions make this super easy to remember, even on a busy Saturday: 

Pancake Powered Kids (12 large pancakes)  


  • 2 eggs  
  • 2 cups of flour (or wholemeal is a nice texture) 
  • 2 cups of milk  
  • 1 tsp baking soda (or use self-raising flour) 
  • 2 tbsp of melted butter  
  • Your favorite fruits (we love mashed bananas and blueberries)

Whisk together.  

I split the mix into two bowls and add the mashed bananas in one, and the blueberries in the other. It’s a perfect job for helpful little hands to add their own favorite fruit.  

Use a non-stick pan on medium heat with a little oil to coat the surface – spoon in batter and flip when little air bubbles come through or brown on one side.   

Serve drizzled with honey or maple syrup and enjoy! Or get the kids to decorate with fruit and berries to make funny faces.   

The team at Ollie Club HQ and I would love to see pictures of your family enjoying a deconstructed meal! Post your images and win a signed copy of the storybook Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate! Join our conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Making every meal an adventure  

Messy fun! Sheena x


1. [5 Benefits of Eating Out as a Family]

2. [Characteristics of family mealtimes affecting children’s vegetable consumption and liking]

3. [Involvement in home meal preparation is associated with food preference and self-efficacy among Canadian children]