Because of that, going out to eat at restaurants was a little bit of a situation. I worked as a waitress in the past - I know that most places just put a rag in some already-dirty water and wipe off a table with it. I don't know if there's been a Mythbusters on this or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are more germs on the table after it's been wiped down than before. Other places will use bleach water - which is great in theory, except when your child is going to put their food down when the table is potentially still wet. Eating bleach doesn't sound like an awesome idea for a 9-month-old, but I'm not a gastroenterologist, don't quote me.
Anyway. We were at Babies 'R Us, and found this item -- which instantly means I got it for about a 40% markup (LINK):
When it's unfolded, it is about 18 inches wide - the sides and top flap fold up to make it fit a little easier in a diaper bag or such. It's pretty thick plastic, and wipes down very easy. That little jobby down at the bottom that looks like a pencil case is a little cup area that catches the inevitable food that falls out of baby's mouth. (It also catches baby barf, which is both a positive and negative.)
What I liked best about this is that it also has suction cups on the back (on each of the flaps) that keep it on the table even when your little one sweeps their arm back and forth on the table or grabs at it.
We used the heck out of it - we used to try and go to breakfast a couple of times a month with my parents, in addition to other trips, and so it got a ton of use:
(Those are hash browns, in case anyone is wondering what the heck we're feeding her.)
After a while it didn't fold up quite as nicely, but the suction cups still made it a lot more useful than the little plastic placemats that you can get that just lie on the table. Plus, I liked that it was reusable, it seemed more environmentally-friendly.
We don't use it anymore now that Little A is fine eating off of a plate, but it was well worth $9. I would throw it in the dishwasher for a deep clean, it was super-easy. It was a bit bulky in the diaper bag, even folded up and then with some additional rolling, so I guess it really depends on how big your diaper bag is and how crazy you are about germs. My answers to those were "huge" and "lots."