Restaurant Survival Kit for Kids

Breakfast with Coffee at a Restaurant

Are you one of those parents that kissed restaurants goodbye once you had kids? Is it too much stress worrying about your kids making a mess or causing a scene? Do you only go to kid friendly restaurants if you do decide to take the chance? If you answered yes to these, you’re going to want to pay attention.

Bringing a toddler to a restaurant can be as hellish as you imagine, but it doesn’t have to be. You could make yourself a restaurant survival kit for kids and kiss your worries goodbye instead of your nights out.

A restaurant survival kit is the better, less zombie-inducing, alternative to putting them in front of the tablet. These kits contain small, entertaining toys and activities for your child to play with during dinner so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your meal.

You could put anything you want in this kit for your kids, but here are a few of my top suggestions.

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Sure, restaurants have crayons, but they’re always those super cheap, waxy ones that don’t work right. If you want to keep your child focused on coloring, it’s best to have a crayon that works and doesn’t break under their enormous toddler pushing pressure.

Queue Crayola Twistables Crayons. These crayons are like mechanical pencils in that the outside is plastic and the bottom of the crayon can be spun to expose more or less crayon. No more worrying about broken crayons!

Learning Opportunity: play “find the color” with your child to help build up their color recognition skills

Coloring Pages

If you have crayons, you’re going to need some coloring pages. These days, you can print them from the Internet, or go old-school and grab a few sheets out of a coloring book.

For older toddlers, the puzzle pages are a lot of fun. They can hold your child’s attention for a longer period of time compared to simply coloring and they present your child with more learning opportunities.

Discovery Putty™

Discovery Therapy Putty TinsThis is one of my all-time favorite toys for kids. It has the molding benefits of Playdoh without the mess! Discovery Putty™ also comes with fun little shapes inside that your child can work on pulling out.

Check out my article Improving Fine Motor Skills – Discovery Putty™ for the Win for a more detailed description.

Learning Opportunity: Each putty tin comes with it’s own set of fun little objects. You can play I Spy to work on identification skills and carefully removing each piece works on your child’s fine motor skills.


Magnets are always fun. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Your kids can watch them move towards and away from each other.

Depending on the type of carrying case you use, you may or may not need a magnet wand. If you have something metal, the magnets can stick right to it. If you don’t, a magnet wand would allow your child to pick up other magnets and small metal objects.

Learning Opportunity: If you get the letter magnets, you can work on letter identification or spelling out simple words.

Small Toys


Little animal figures, action figures, or small cars are a must-have for this survival kit. These will allow your child to engage in pretend play, which can keep them occupied for long periods of time.

I’m a huge Marvel nerd, so I’m partial to the Playskool Marvel set. Your child can play superhero and defeat the evil enemies of the universe.

An Old Deck of Cards

This is just something fun that can be played around with if they get bored with the other toys.

Learning Opportunities: It might not be the first toy your toddler grabs out of their survival kit, but it poses some great learning opportunities. You can work on numbers and counting as well as patterns (black, red, black, red).


Kids love stickers! They love working hard trying to peel the sticker off of the paper and then finding the exact right space to put it. All of this concentration means quiet time for you!

Carrying Case

I’ve seen some really awesome ideas for carrying cases, but these are my favorite:


Metal Lunchbox

  • Pros:
    • Your child can pick out their favorite character
    • Easy to carry
    • Magnets stick right to the box
  • Cons:
    • Can be loud
    • Might not fit everything you want


Old Baby Wipe Container

  • Pros:
    • Kids can have fun putting toys through the slit in the top
    • Can use magnet wand to search for magnets through the slit
    • Makes less noise than metal lunchbox
  • Cons:
    • Might not be big enough to fit everything you want

Fold-Up Travel Case/Makeup Case

  • Pros:

    • More space to fit everything you could want and need
    • Folds up neatly
    • Has handles for easy carrying
  • Cons:
    • No fun design for your child to pick out
    • Can be a bit large and space consuming

These Kits are a Must!

Don’t give up on dining out just because you’re worried about the kids. Make yourself a restaurant survival kit and keep your child entertained through the entire meal. These kits are a much better alternative to tablets because they don’t foster screen dependence and they provide all kinds of learning opportunities.

Make yourself a survival kit today and if you find something that works well for your kids, let us know by commenting below!



  1. These are all great ideas because yes we all know that a trip to the restaurant can be quite difficult.  Right to the point of not even going because it just becomes to much over all.  The one thing in a restaurant that we dont mind is letting our guy use a tablet.  We do monitor its usage but restaurants are one of those times we are okay with it.  Thank you for this great read.

    • Dale,

      Sometimes tablets are the easiest thing to do for an easy restaurant trip. I just warn against using it too often, especially outside of that setting. Screen dependence is a real problem for kids that can create lasting issues.

  2. HAHA, I remember all those restaurant scenes with my two baby brothers years ago all too welll. Running their hands through the food, wiping around the face, and chucking it on the floor. And then come all the tantrums because they don’t want to be stuck in a high chair or they’re made to sit at the table and eat their veggies lol.

    So yeah, it’s not always a pleasant experience taking kids to restaurants. And I don’t even need to be a parent myself in order to say that. Plus, if you take notice of others’ kids, you can see the challenges the parents face.

    Personally, I think survival kits are a great idea for toddlers because crayoning among other activities and toys keeps them occupied which gives parents some peace and quiet while they enjoy their meals.

    And unfortunately, we are now in a day and age where tablets seem to be taking over. So we need the old traditions still in place to keep kids more active and engaged.

    As for giving your child a carrying case for their toys and crayons, etc, which out of your top 3 recommendations would be your #1 choice?

    Cheers, Neil

    • Neil, I have seen those situations all too often as well! You’re right, the tablet is becoming the norm for solving this issue, but it really shouldn’t be. Screen dependence is a real issue for kids today.

      As for the carrying case, the makeup bag is my favorite because it has more space for toys and more compartments for organization.

  3. Hello Taylor. I am very sure you are doing great. I think these Restaurant Survival Kit for Kids are a must for every parent that wants some relaxing time. I also love these kits because they make the kid smart too and kinda educative.

    Thank you for sharing these awesome kits.

    • I definitely recommend these for any toddler parents out there. All of the items I listed have some sort of educational component to them and they can be done with or without the help of a parent, giving the parent a bit of time to relax.

  4. This is a brilliant idea! Most parents have baby kits filled with everything from the baby isle of the store, but once the child is no longer a baby the level of preparedness usually drops (probably due to jet lag from the baby years). I have seen some of the naughtiest children you can imagine and when you look at the parent’s face it tells a story.

    Once I saw a dad who looked like he wasn’t quite sure if he was having a nightmare or if this was real! Raising kids is definitely a tough job, so a helpful lust like this is a beacon of hope in the darkness. One may think that anyone can compile a list like this, but unless you have entered involuntary autopilot it is hard to describe the joy you feel when you come across a solution like this, no matter how simple it seems. It is also practical as kids definitely love things like colouring books and crayons.

    I will definitely be sending my cousin to this site! She needs this!

    • Renton, thanks for giving the article a read. I’m glad you found it useful and I hope your cousin does as well!

      Parenting is certainly one of the hardest jobs out there, so it’s understandable that parents go on auto-pilot. Simple solutions are the best solutions for those kinds of situations. If you’re already burnt out, you’re not going to want to put in a whole lot of effort.

      Let’s hope that these kits can help parents enjoy a night out and recover from their parenting jet lag!

  5. I love the discovery putty – fantastic idea and wonderful that it comes with shapes for the kids to work with! A word of caution for you regarding magnets – be careful to only offer only magnets that are not choking hazards. Small magnetic toys can cause major damage as they are digested – and for this reason must be avoided completely until kids are old enough to stop putting everything in their mouth.  Your survival kit organization ideas are very practical and I agree – keeping everything contained and available is genius! The only thing I would add to the kit is : plastic single use placemats with an adhesive strip around the edges.  These are available in 5 or 10 packs and would be a natural addition to your survival kit. When you get to the restaurant you simply lay out (unfold) one of these nifty place mats and the table has a play area automatically prepared for your toddler.  When the meal is over you fold it up to contain the mess and pass it along to your grateful waiter.  These placemats will work really well with your discovery putty & help keep the putty clean! Kudos to you for addressing this need for parents! The people here at Big Papa salute you!

    • Casey, thank you so much for your suggestions! You’re right, magnets are not a good idea for toddlers that are still putting things in their mouths.

      love the idea of the placemats. I hadn’t thought about it, but it is a great idea!

  6. I just love these Restaurant Survival Kits for Kids. What great ideas. It is so good for parents to go out to eat at a good Restaurant and have happy and busy little ones not causing mayhem while they eat.

    This is the first time I have heard of the Crayola Retractable crayons and the Discovery Putty. What super inventions to keep children happy. Magnets have always been good fun and can keep children entertained for hours and having the letters being made into words is a fantastic idea. 

    Am going to use these ideas with my grandson. What fun he will have. Thank you so much for all these ideas.

    • Jill, it is so important for parents to be able to go out and eat with their kids. It’s good for the parents’ sanity and good for the child’s social development.

      The Crayola Twistables are my absolute favorite coloring tool for children. There’s less mess because there is no paper to rip of and play with, and they are sturdier than most other crayons. The Discovery Putty is also an amazing tool for children. It is both fun and educational in so many ways.

      I hope your grandson loves his new restaurant survival kit!

  7. What a great suggestion!  

    I admit to the lazy approach of just giving them an ipad to keep them quiet.  But reading your article has inspired me to put some thought into putting together an entertainment kit that will amuse and educate them at the same time … small, discreet items that will not dominate the dinner surface.  If they don’t fit in my old make-up case, they’re not restaurant-worthy! 🙂

    Thank you for the advice.

    • I’m glad I could inspire you! I always push for a few smaller items versus one larger one because there is less of a chance of them getting bored. If you pack a bunch of little things, you child can bounce from one activity to the next and not wreak havoc on the restaurant 🙂

  8. Hi! Thank you very much for these tips! I found them extraordinarily useful! I would happily use your affiliate links as a way to say thank you for giving me all these ideas. There are a couple I really like and had never thought of them, such as stickers and the carrying case. I like the cool Snoopy carrying case in the picture! 🙂

    • Henry, I greatly appreciate that! Thank you! I love the Snoopy box too, and there are plenty of other awesome ones on Amazon.

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