At one time, it was extremely stressful taking your babies and young children to a movie. It is hard going to a movie when you know there is no guarantee that they will stay quiet the whole time. If they start getting cranky, which is usually inevitable, then you either disrupt the other viewers or waste your money because you leave the theater early with screaming children. Both options are not ideal.
Stars and Strollers
But, have no fear! Movie theaters now offer these wonderful ‘Experiences’ called Stars and Strollers movies (or some other variation of the name) where they have afternoon showings of movies in the middle of the week for parents of young children. Each theater offers different services, but most have reduced sound and it’s not as dark so that you can find the diapers and bottles you need in the middle of the movie.
The best thing, in my opinion, about Stars and Strollers though, is that you go to the movie expecting crying children. You sit with all these other parents who are in the same situation as you and if your baby cries, its okay because the baby sitting two rows behind you is also crying. Most Stars and Strollers experiences offer both children’s movies and more mature, adult movies. I have only done the children’s movies, but I have a hard time justifying taking a baby or young child to an action or drama with lots of violence or swearing in it. But that’s just me.
When my son was born, I took him to his first movie at 3 months old. I loved being able to go to movies with him and be able to watch the newest children’s movie that had come out while he napped. His first movie was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.
I found that taking Jack as a baby was a perfect getaway for me. At least until he started wanting to be mobile. Once he started wanting to move around, going to the movies got a little more challenging. I found this stage was between one and two years old. When Jack hit the moving around stage, I still took him to movies, I just had to be a little more prepared and logistical when it came to keeping him occupied. More on that in a minute though.
We took the twins to their first movie yesterday, and I can’t say that it went extremely well. We went to see Finding Dory, and Jack is now almost 3, so he sat through the movie and absolutely loved it. The girls, on the other hand have hit the mobile age and were not impressed with having to sit for two hours. I ended up leaving the theater halfway through and let Jarrett, my husband, sit with Jack until the movie finished.
I think that if I had taken the girls to movies when they were younger, then they would have been okay to sit through the movie at 11 months. I think it helps taking your baby at a young age because they become used to the environment. Instead, my girls skipped their nap because there was so much going on and they were not used to the new environment. Unfortunately, it is impossible to take three young children to a movie by yourself. So, sorry girls, you are going to have to wait another year or so until we go to another movie as a family.
Tricks to Keep Your Child Occupied
My primary weapon when taking Jack to the movie theater was stuffing him with food for two hours. I’d make sure he was hungry when we got there, and would feed him a hot dog for lunch, and then give him popcorn throughout the show, some candy, juice, a fruit and veggie squishy, crackers, and water. Every time he got antsy I gave him something else to snack on. It definitely worked!
Make sure that if you are giving young children popcorn (I give it to my 11 month old girls), you try not to give them popcorn with kernels in it. It’s just best to avoid that choking hazard.
Picking Your Seats
I also found that the location where I chose to sit really helped with keeping my son entertained. There are couple different options you can try. There first option are the seats on the side of the theater. The once that have 3 or 4 seats in a row. If you sit on the end, you act as a barrier and then you have room for your child to run back and forth. This way, you don’t have to worry about them running around the theater, distracting people, falling down stairs. You know. The usual stuff.
My personal favorite place to sit is right behind the place where they have the disabled seating, in the second row, with the bar directly in front of you. It’s a great place because you can stand up your toddler on your lap, and they can hold onto the bar and play. I don’t know what it is about the bar, but it is magical. Plus you have extra room for all your baby stuff. And if you are anything like me, there is lots of baby stuff.
You can also bring some QUIET toys into the theater if you want to distract your child that way. Make sure they aren’t flashy and loud. Just something that your child can hold onto and chew on. They like that.
If All Else Fails…
Sometimes, kids just are not ready for the movie theater. That is ok. If all else fails, rent or stream the movie you want to watch. You can set up a “movie theater” at home and make popcorn, pull out some juice and create your own movie experience in the comfort of your home. Eventually, your child will be ready to see a movie in the theater.