Bringing kids to the table

Parents can check, rate and review restaurants based on their kid friendliness and order a sticker for their local eateries

I discovered it one day while I was relaxing with a newspaper. It was an article about a woman called Juliet Potter. She's designed a poster and stickers for restaurants and eateries to display, advising that children are welcome to dine there (with their paying parents, I presume). As a mother of three children I found myself trying to count the family-friendly restaurants in my local area. I didn't count very far.

So, without further ado, I shall now award my local Trattoria with the honour of being one place I think should get one of these posters.

They usually seat us away from couples and childless groups. Not so much because my children are raucous (never!), but primarily because they understand that the large basket of toys they provide needs to be unpacked and played with between courses. Yes, you read that correctly – this restaurant actually provides a basket of toys and encourages children to play with them! The tables are covered with cute red checked tablecloths each overlaid with a large piece of paper. That's because they also provide pencils, crayons and gel pens for the children. Genius!

But what I really like about this restaurant is that the children's menu isn't a deep fried junk fest. It's actually smaller sized portions of the real Italian food they serve to everyone else – mini fresh pizza, spaghetti or penne bolognaise or romano, fresh chicken schnitzel with salad. All served with either water or juice only, in sturdy tumblers.

I've often been disappointed to find the kid's menu in some restaurants is a quick fix of fried food. The value of children experiencing quality food presented in an appealing manner seems to be lost. I don't think many parents even question the kid's menu anymore. We seem to have placidly accepted that children will be fed fried food – and then wonder why half of them (now dosed up on preservatives) behave obnoxiously. Difficult for parents to manage. And other patrons to tolerate.

As it turns out, the sticker and poster system has now been upgraded to include a mobile app with a restaurant listing. Parents can check, rate and review restaurants based on their kid friendliness and order a sticker for their local eateries. I hope this will drive other eateries to look at the ratings and perhaps take the lead from restaurants with wholesome menus as well as fast and friendly service.

I like the fact that the stickers are being driven by the consumer. It might start with a sticker, but it's a small step for businesses towards acknowledging the place and importance of children in our lives and communities.