Mom Who Brings a Meal for Toddler While Dining Out Has Parents Fired Up

A mom explains why she brings a meal from home when she takes her toddler to restaurants @unbreakablemomma / TikTok

A TikTok mom revealed in a video that she brings a meal from home for her toddler when her family dines out, and the internet is fiercely divided

Ah, toddlers. Anyone who’s ever had (or even met) one knows how much they run our lives. From our daily schedules to our home decor to the foods we eat, raising a toddler means navigating their constantly changing desires and whims—and the ever-present risk of a meltdown.

That’s why we really sympathize with this mom, who posted a TikTok video explaining why, when she goes out to eat with her family, she usually packs a meal for her 2-year-old.


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The mom, who goes by @unbreakablemomma on TikTok, explained, “Call me cheap, call me whatever, but if we’re going out to a restaurant, I’m packing my kid a meal. I do this for many reasons.”

She further explains that every Friday night, her family gets together at a restaurant to get food out (whether that’s eating at the restaurant or grabbing takeout to have at a family member’s house). But she doesn’t purchase a restaurant meal for her 2-year-old son.

“For one, you want me to pay $6.99 for chicken tenders and fries that my son is going to throw half of it on the floor? You’re crazy,” she says. “Also, whatever I pack is probably going to be healthier than what the restaurant has anyways.”

As she talks, she shows the food she’s packing for her toddler: a PB&J, cubed cheddar cheese, banana slices, and a chocolate Larabar.

Her points make perfect sense. That $6.99 is generous for a kids’ meal at a restaurant—in Chicago, where I live, that would be more like $10-12 on the low end. And she’s definitely right about nutrition. Too often, restaurant kids’ menus are extremely limited, only including options like chicken fingers, pizza, corn dogs, and fries.

But in the comments, people were very divided.

“$6.99 is not an outrageous price. Eating out is definitely an experience a child deserves while everyone eats out,” one wrote. Another added, “Someone once told me if u can’t afford to let your kid get whatever meal they want at a restaurant, u shouldn’t be eating out.”

One comment particularly caught my eye, as a former restaurant worker: “You are paying for the seat at the table, not just the food. The price of the food to the restaurant is a tiny part of it.”

But is that even true? Many kids are too young to eat any food a restaurant offers, but they’re still allowed a spot at the table. Would any restaurant tell a mom she can’t feed formula brought from home to an infant, and they need to order the chicken fingers instead? Of course not. So at what age does it become unacceptable for a young child to eat their own food in public? I would argue a 2-year-old is still well within that grace period.

There are a few important caveats here, though. Some restaurants can’t allow outside food due to food service regulations. In this case, it’s probably better to just get takeout so the grownups can enjoy their restaurant meal and littles can have food they like. And as a former server, let me just say: if you bring food from home for your young child and they make a mess with it that you leave for the restaurant’s staff to clean up, you’re a jerk. Full stop.

But as long as everyone is respectful about it, let toddlers have a pass. It’s tough enough navigating mealtimes with a human who hasn’t developed the ability to understand logic yet. Let’s not make it harder than it has to be.


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