Put a drop of baby food on a tray and let baby play with it while you eat.
I instantly loved the idea, but we really don’t eat out anymore. It’s harder with a toddler than with a baby! But after I had fed Tyler in his high chair the other day, I realized that I could keep him content there by dropping a tiny bit of the leftover food on his tray and letting him swing his fingers through it (he did it instantly so there must be something instinctive about it!). I was able to work on dinner and clean up the kitchen a little bit before he got bored (I gave him another drop of food when he had thoroughly spread the first one out – his attention span lasted two drops, or about 20 minutes). What’s particularly wonderful about this hack is that the mess is minimal. I’m going to be using it a lot.