10 tips on how to eat well while traveling with toddlers

Because one of the best parts of any new place is the food. 🥑

10 tips on how to eat well while traveling with toddlers

Traveling with toddlers can be, well, tricky. But one of the most fun parts, in addition to just being in new places, is getting to eat different food. But since our little people are not always as enthusiastic about a change in their routine, I aim for an overall balance to our trips to help us all enjoy ourselves. A big part of this is our approach to food, which includes the food I pack for us and what we choose to eat in restaurants.

Here are my top 10 tips for traveling with toddlers and big kids.

1. Overpack snacks

This one might be obvious but it's worth mentioning anyway—pack more snacks than you think you will need because you just never know. I always buy a few low-mess snacks that we don't often have at home to make things feel more special and fun.

We like:

  • Cheese crackers
  • Fruit leather
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Raisins
  • Mini Larabars or granola bars

All of these are easy to stick into a diaper bag to pull out whenever you need them—for snack time or to help quell tantrums and redirect less than ideal behavior when in public. (Sometimes you have to pull out all the stops, right?). And Cheerios remain an all-star travel snack in our house... and lollipops for emergencies!

2. Plan lunch breaks on travel days

This sometimes isn't possible, but when it is, I try to plan ahead for an interesting lunch break. If on a road trip, this is usually a park with a playground so we can eat outside (weather permitting) and run around for a bit. It could also be a stop at a grocery store with a good prepared foods section or a classic diner. Or, if in an airport, I like to let the little one choose something special to eat with her lunch. (Jamba Juice usually has a good selection of healthy kids' snacks!)

3. Pack breakfast

When a hotel doesn't include breakfast in the fee, I try to pack us something yummy rather than spending $12 per person on a restaurant meal that may or may not get eaten.

Some favorite foods to pack include:

  • A batch of muffins or bars
  • Shelf-stable milk from Horizon or Organic Valley,
  • Packets of nut butter from Justin's
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fresh fruit.

All of these also make good snacks or lunch options so they get eaten in my family no matter what. Keep them in the mini fridge overnight as needed—or in the regular fridge if you rent a house.

4. Make the most of free food

If you are staying at a hotel with an included breakfast buffet (like you get at a Hampton Inn), graze the buffet for the best offerings. To me this means grabbing fresh fruit, yogurt, milk, peanut butter packets, and maybe oatmeal—and not being afraid to take any leftovers with you, especially if your kiddo tends to be distracted at breakfast and super hungry come morning snack! And that bowl of apples and bananas sitting in the lobby? Those are for you, my friend. (Just be sure to give them a thorough wash before handing them over to the wee one.)

5. Always order an appetizer

When eating in a restaurant, entrees can vary widely in how long they take to arrive at your table. Appetizers—hummus and pita, edamame, chicken satay, sweet potato fries—can help keep the little one occupied and happy. Playing with straws, in addition to drinking from them, can also help pass the time, as well as books and crayons.

6. Order an entire entree with multiple components

When the kid's menu looks lackluster or there are things on the regular menu that I think my girl would prefer, I often order something for us to share. Some of the most successful meals that we've shared include jambalaya, stir-fry, seafood pasta, and burgers with sweet potato fries.

These dishes include many different ingredients for the little ones to choose from, which helps ensure that there is something they like on the plate—it's okay if that winds up being half of a roll and some cheese! Restaurant portions are often big enough that we can comfortably share an entree, though I do usually order an extra side of veggies or an appetizer to make sure we both get enough to eat.

7. Consider the kid's menu

I know, I know, everyone is always saying that kids meals are the worst. But in my experience, the quality of the kid's menu totally depends on the restaurant and it's unfair to say that they are all terrible because, in fact, there are some good ones. So I evaluate each one on its own. Also, you know what? A really good grilled cheese is completely delicious. So if that would make your kiddo really happy, I say do it. See also: Pancakes in fun shapes with whipped cream for breakfast!

8. Eat dinner early

Since you never know how long a restaurant meal can take (this goes for a meal at a friend's house, too), start early to allow for plenty of time to eat and get back to the hotel for bedtime. We usually go around 5 pm or 5:30 pm. This also means that the restaurant is usually less busy, making for a better experience all around—especially if your toddler needs to get up and walk around a bit at some point in the meal. (This is a reason that we often go to brewpubs—they tend to be spacious and have ample room for little legs to roam!)

9. Stay in sometimes

Being in a new place and being out and about all day can be exhausting, especially for toddlers who thrive on routine. And while we love to eat out when we're away, we also aren't afraid to admit it when we're all a little tired. I often find the local natural foods co-op, local grocery store or farmer's market so we can get takeout to bring back to our room.

The prepared food section and salad bars make it easy to stock up on small amounts of finger foods you know your kiddo likes, without breaking the budget. We LOVE staying in Air BnBs with this in mind since it's 100% easier to put the kiddo to bed early when you're not all in the same hotel room.

10. Have fun!

Traveling is often so invigorating and the perfect opportunity to indulge and loosen up around meals. So try foods you don't normally have (dessert included!) and show the kids that there's more to life than the food you always eat at home. Have ice cream in the morning or try a dish you never have before to model your own eating adventure to the kids.

And P.S.: Be sure to pack extra wipes, always and forever.

Originally posted on Yummy Toddler Food.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

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Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

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Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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