General Question

JLeslie's avatar

Would you leave your toddler alone at the table in a restaurant?

Asked by JLeslie (58937points) April 20th, 2019 from iPhone

My husband and I had breakfast at a restaurant in the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal in Florida. Most people go for the buffet, but you can order from the menu also. I just mention all of the details to set the scene. It’s a very nice dining room, large, and open feeling.

My husband noticed about 3 tables away a toddler in a high chair is alone at a table. She seemed very happy, smiling, and I think babbling a little. Eventually, her dad (I assume her dad) comes back with some food.

My husband later says, “she’s putting too much food in her mouth” I look back at the table (I wasn’t facing the table, my husband was) and the dad is gone again, and the girl continued to eat while the dad went for second helpings.

My husband and I didn’t take our eyes off of her while he was gone from the table. She had stuffed a big piece of what I think was sausage into her mouth. I just wanted to make sure she didn’t choke.

Would you leave your toddler alone at a restaurant? If you would, would you let her continue to eat while you’re gone from the table?

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I would not bring small child into a restaurant.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli What would you do with the child? They’re on vacation. Have you been to Universal or Disney? The place is teaming with children.

ragingloli's avatar

Lock them in at home, of course. Maybe rent a scary guard dog to intimidate them into behaving.
I am not having my and anyone else’s restaurant experience RUINED by the inevitable unruliness of children if I can avoid it.

janbb's avatar

So much depends on the individual situation that I really can’t answer categorically. All parents do things at times that are expedient and using their best judgment. If the father was the only parent there and needed to go get food, yes, I think it was ok to leave the child secured in the high chair. I might not leave them with big chunks of food but then again I don’t know their situation.

jca2's avatar

I probably wouldn’t go to a buffet solo with just a toddler. Knowing that I’d have to get up to get food, I would only go to a buffet if I had another adult or even an older child with me to watch the toddler when I get up. I’d be more afraid the toddler would move around and fall out of the high chair.

Also, for many toddlers, they’re not wanting to sit for more than about 20 minutes and then they want to get out and walk around. That’s where, in any type of restaurant, it’s especially helpful to have another adult with you who can take the toddler for a walk to the lobby or someplace to show them some things and distract them.

For me, when my daughter was a toddler, it was a tough age. I usually didn’t go shopping with her because she wanted to walk around. Restaurants were a similar problem. Then they get past that stage and get to be 4 and 5 where they can sit longer and hang out.

kritiper's avatar

No. I probably wouldn’t go into a restaurant just by myself and a toddler. I would want another responsible person there, too. Otherwise I’d go to a drive-up window eatery.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Simple carry the toddler and have the waitress/server assist to carry the food to the table.
I had done this and the server at the cash register took the tray to my table.
Irresponsible of that parent to leave the toddler on its own either eating or not .

zenvelo's avatar

Nope, not even if I was certain the child was secure in the high chair. Too many “freak” accidents (that really aren’t freak, just negligence parenting.)

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t even think of the high chair tipping. I have no idea how sturdy they are. It was a typical restaurant wooden high chair.

The girl was very well behaved and happy the entire time. She wasn’t disturbing anyone, wasn’t loud or messy. The dad would leave and come back and she wasn’t fazed.

flo's avatar

I wonder if they have high chairs with wheels in some buffet restaurants?

JLeslie's avatar

@flo I don’t think it would have been that hard for him to bring the toddler with him into the buffet. He also could have ordered from the menu instead.

I don’t think it was that big of a deal she was left at the table if he asked the table next to him to keep an eye. Maybe he did that. I was mostly bothered by the choking hazard.

I think if it were me I would have brought her to the buffet with me, or ordered from the menu, but I’m not judging.

flo's avatar

Sausages, hotdogs number one on the list of dangerous chocking items with children. So you were right for being concerned, and for watching. Imagine what the world would be like without judging. There would be no progress.

JLeslie's avatar

I was thinking, if this child choked, and needed to be saved, it would be horrible for the parents. The mother would never feel ok leaving the baby again, even if the baby was fine. That’s assuming the parents are married, etc. That’s also assuming the mother knows better. She might be just as ignorant.

I was just warning someone yesterday on Facebook to cut grapes in half for young children. Grapes and hot dogs way high on the list for choking. My guess is my husband has no idea.

Kardamom's avatar

My first thought when I read this Q, was that it only takes a split second or some creep to snatch a child. I would never leave a child that young alone at the table.

We go to Souplantation (Sweet Tomatoes in other parts of the country) fairly often, and I see mothers with strollers in the buffet line, and a restaurant attendant will help them bring their food to the table.

If it were me, I would probably not take a child that young to a buffet if I was on my own, without another adult, or older child to help watch the little one. There are too many things that could go wrong.

JLeslie's avatar

This buffet is not a line, but a large open area (maybe 25X25) with an island in the middle. Food all around the edges and all around the island. People aren’t queued up that time of day in a single file, but rather they may wait for one person to finish taking bacon, and then they can go next, on to the next thing they want, which might be on the opposite side of the room. It really would have been fairly easy to bring the child to the food area.

majorbacon's avatar

I would not leave a toddler unattended while I got my own food or whatever the reason was. As a single parent I would bring my kids and get food for both of us at the same time. I have even brought my girls into the restroom with me while we both used it. In this day and age you could lose a child like that, or she could have choked and been in a lot of danger by herself. I think it’s good that you and your spouse watched over her just in case.

funkdaddy's avatar

I have my kids on my own just about every weekend. I’ve left my high chair aged toddler at the table while I’ve gone to grab something. If I can see them and they can see me, I think it’s all right.

Just an example of how people misjudge this, I carried my oldest through the line at a counter service restaurant, got her all set up and happy outside at our table with her food and cup, and realized I didn’t have any silverware. She was happy and eating, and I had to go inside and grab some, so I did and just didn’t get out of sight. An older woman approached the table and I came back out.

“Where is this child’s mother?” was the first thing out of her mouth. She told me it was irresponsible to leave her (explained I was just 20 feet away, inside), too hot to be outside (in the shade, with water), and asked if I usually took care of my child (every weekend since she was born). I finally just had to tell her we were fine and stop engaging with her.

I understand bad things can happen, but they generally don’t happen that quickly with little kids. You need to watch, but a strapped in toddler is probably safer at the table in a high chair than in your arms in a crowded room, especially if you’re actually trying to do something one handed.

You’re not getting a kid out of a highchair faster than I can get back, the kid isn’t getting themselves out faster either, and toddlers choke on food fairly often but rarely need more than assurances that they’re ok. They’re realistically in more danger on the far side of a playground.

If I’m going to be out of sight, they come with me (I’ve had all 3 in the bathroom with me) but if I can watch the whole time, I’m good with stepping away as needed and wouldn’t blame anyone for not trying to balance a toddler and a tray.

jca2's avatar

I couldn’t imagine bringing the toddler with me to get food. If the toddler were walking with me, she would probably not want to stand with me, she’d probably want to wander off (as toddlers do). I also couldn’t imagine carrying a toddler with one arm while trying to get food with the other. Usually getting food at the buffet means holding the plate with one hand and putting food on it with the other. There are not many places to put the plate down. The plate is usually carried on a tray which is large, cumbersome and can be heavy.

JLeslie's avatar

While at the buffet the toddler was not in the sight of the parent in this case. However, there were tables that are in that position, and I think that would have made more sense in this situation. That probably would have been ideal.

There aren’t any trays at this buffet. I don’t think think there was any flatware on the buffet line. Waiters bring you all the drinks and a new fork if you want one, so trays aren’t necessary. The restaurant is both full service and buffet, so the waiters tend to you more like a full service situation. In fact, that’s more reason why this dad probably could have asked for more help than he did.

I think there is a place to put down your plate when you serve yourself, but I’m not 100% sure I remember that correctly. I think it can be done with one hand, but of course it’s less convenient.

jca2's avatar

When I think about it, in a place like Universal where there are a lot of restaurants, why go to a buffet solo with a toddler. Why not just go to a regular restaurant? I’m sure there are other choices there.

cookieman's avatar

No, but when my daughter was a toddler (and younger) I went out to dinner alone with her regularly. My wife was in school three nights a week, so it was our thing, me and her. Different restaurants, sometimes a buffet.

For the buffet, I would throw her on my shoulders and walk through the buffet — filling the plate, taking to her about what we were eating along the way.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 The restaurant had both. All he had to do was order off the menu. When I go there with my husband, I get the buffet and my husband orders from the menu. If he was staying at that hotel, that is the best place for breakfast I think. Maybe there is a Starbucks? Of course room service is an option too. One of the other restaurants has a weekend breakfast (I was there in a weekday) but I think it’s a pricey character breakfast.

nightwolf5's avatar

No definitely not, dangerous, and irresponsible of the dad to leave the toddler alone even for seconds, it only takes a minute for something to happen. Sadly it doesn’t surprise me though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

How far away was the buffet and could the father see the baby from there? It’s not something I would do either, but I think if the father is only several feet away and can see the child then it’s OK.
I always took my kids through so they could pick out their own food.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In my observation men, in general, seem much less likely to take what I would consider necessary precautions.

JLeslie's avatar

^^The child was not in sight from the buffet. From his table you had to walk past two tables, then make a left, walk another 30 feet, and then a right, and then you are in the buffet area, and there are partial walls behind the tables, so the view is completely obstructed. Even without the partial wall you wouldn’t be able to see when in the buffet room. If the baby cried out, I don’t even think he could hear her. There were about 8 other tables in our section with people, so God forbid something had happened I’m sure people would have run to help her.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, no. I wouldn’t do that.

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