Toddlers can’t sit still; I think wiggling is pretty much part of their whole existence. But how do you make a toddler sit still and enjoy a movie in a movie theater? The struggle is completely different than say going to a drive-in movie and sitting in the privacy of your car. Here you actually have to keep the child from disturbing other moviegoers and keep him from running off.
My husband likes to text me ideas during the day while we’re at work. You know the texts, the ones that don’t have enough details and are not at a time when you can easily discuss the issue. So I get this that probably goes something like “hey let’s go take that kid of ours to see Despicable Me 3 with our friends, it will be awesome” and I respond something like “are you for serious? Because our child does not do quiet, or still.” Paraphrasing here, go with me.
I know my son, so I like to drag my feet at ideas like these, but I got talked into it. To the movies, we went. We took our wiggly, fidgety, loud little two-year-old to his first movie theater. Let me share with you some tips on making the experience go as smoothly as possible.
Go to the bathroom before the movie
That goes for everyone, including Mom, because we know we forget sometimes. If the child is newly potty trained, be sure they empty their bladders before the movie stars. If the child is not on board with the whole potty training thing like mine, start the movie off with a fresh diaper. You don’t want those kinds of interruptions. There will be enough others.
Pick appropriate seating and timing
It helps to have a higher adult to child ratio. It also helps to sit the child between two adults so when the child tries to run one way or the other, someone can grab him and remind him to stay seated. You can also take turns holding the toddler in your lap, to give him somewhere new to sit. Sitting near an aisle or in a section first row (like we did) helps too. You know, that way your child doesn’t kick the people in front of him.
We also went to a morning show, and the theater was filled with lots of kids. So the bar was already low on the general level of expected quiet in that theater.
Feed the toddler, with all the snacks
I know, I know. Rewarding the toddler with food in return for good behavior is frowned upon. But seriously, if you want the wiggle worm to stay in his seat, he needs something to make him want to sit. In our case, that was theater snacks. Those delicious chocolate ball candies? Yep, huge hit. Also, don’t forget to pack your wipes, because sticky fingers. You’re welcome. And bring a sippy or better yet, get a drink cup with a straw. Those are a hit.
Give the toddler some small toys or favorite items
I have a tiny fidget controller in my purse. It has buttons and switches. And is pocket sized. It comes out to play when I want my child to stay put. He can even wear it on his wrist, so it doesn’t get “dropped.” I had the pacifier in my purse (yes, I carry an emergency paci with me, and yes, my child still uses one) in case he started to fall apart. Our friend had theirs out too. Our friend also brought their toddler’s favorite stuffed toy with them for him to hold while watching. You do what you gotta do.
I can’t honestly say if my toddler watched much of the movie. He spent a lot of it moving around, climbing me, turning around in his seat and looking behind him, etc. He tried to escape a few times, sometimes he “dropped” a toy or sippy so he’d have to get up and get it. But I thought the movie was adorable, and my husband and I enjoyed it very much. So overall, not a bad first movie experience for my toddler. We made it through the movie, there was no meltdown, and no one gave us dirty looks (that we could see). We’ll put this one in the success column.
What are your tips for taking a toddler to his or her first movie?