Re: Self-feeding babies in resturants
From a former waitress, babies in restaurants (as long as their not screaming like crazy...though giggles and squeals are totally different!) are cute enough to compensate for the extra work in cleaning up after them. Many a time have I had to bust out the roller vacuum after a little one that decided the entire restaurant floor needed to be dressed in oyster crackers. Most of the waitstaff agreed. As long as the baby isn't causing a major disturbance like throwing food at people or dancing on the tables (yes, we've actually seen parents ENCOURAGING that sort of behavior), then a mess on the floor isn't too bad. It's even better if the parents are generous enough to try and clean up after themselves, but I've told parents not to worry about it. I'd get the mess. It's not really that big of a deal for most servers. If you tip well, total bonus!
From a parenting point of view, messes can be minimized by giving small manageable amounts at a time. I usually just put a bite-sized or grasping sized portion in front of my little guy and let him have at it. Once that's gone I give him a new one. This also has a huge benefit of making most of the pieces easy to spot when he drops them so I can pick them up and try and help out my server as much as possible. This seems to have really helped with minimizing the mess.