Check, Please -- Restaurant Survival

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Dining out with a little one can be a disaster - and usually is, for some parents. But it doesn't have to be an awful experience when you take your child out to eat. You can foster that same adventurous spirit that you might have for culinary experiences in your child. And if you can't, well, there are many good strategies for getting through a restaurant meal peacefully and without getting glares from diners and waitstaff. First, consider your child's age. Until about 4 years old, many kids simply aren't ready to sit still for as long as it takes to get a meal. If that's the case, you don't have to swear off restaurants until your child enters kindergarten. Simply choose a restaurant that you know doesn't mind kids. Look for restaurants billed as "family-style," like The Old Spaghetti Factory, P.F. Chang's and Cracker Barrel. If you don't mind a loud atmosphere and the kids running off to play or meet mascots like Red Robin's Red, then try Dave & Buster's or Chuck E. Cheese's, which cater to kids of all sizes.