5 tips to survive your child’s first trip to the movie theater

Tons of family films are hitting the big screen in 2019, so you may be wondering if it’s finally time to take your toddler to the theater for their first movie. If you’re up for the challenge, a child’s first movie is a special experience, as long as you keep these tips in mind.

Do your prep work.

Figure out which flick to see (animated is probably best and the shorter, the better), then game plan the rest of the details. What time will you go? Will anyone be joining you on this slightly intimidating first visit or will you fly solo? My advice: bring a friend who knows how to help wrangle kids and take in an early matinee, when theaters aren’t super full (even better if you don’t have to cut into naptime). Have a conversation with your child about expectations for movie theater behavior, but let them know you go home at any time if they get scared or feel antsy.

Arrive late.

This goes against every compulsive urge I have to be punctual, but arriving past show time is actually the best decision you can make when toting little ones to the multiplex. We all know previews last, on average, about 15-20 minutes, and likely won’t hold your child’s attention when all they want to do is see the main attraction. It really is in your best interest to show up a few minutes past start time to avoid antsy kids.

Snacks, snacks, snacks.

One thing I know for certain? Keeping kids occupied for long periods of time requires snacks. I know, I know, you’re not technically supposed to smuggle outside food into the movie theater, so I’ll let you use your own discretion when it comes to munchies. But movie theater fare like pretzels, nachos and yep, even candy, all make for great (albeit expensive) distractions when your toddler is getting restless.

RELATED: 21 family movies worth a trip to the theater in 2019

Choose your seating carefully.

Between the loud, booming stereo system, the darkness and crowds of people milling about, being inside a movie theater can feel a little overwhelming for a child. It may help to select seats that are far away from the screen so the action isn’t so in their face. Sitting near an exit is also key in case a tantrum or emergency potty issue should arise.

Don’t be afraid to leave.

As with most adventures in parenting, we can have the best intentions in the world and things may still go south quickly. You’re not a bad parent if your kid is more interested in running up and down the aisles of the theater than they are in watching the movie (I may be speaking from experience here). It’s completely fine to leave the theater and try again another time. That being said, sometimes all a child needs is a bathroom break or quick walk around the lobby to help get the wiggles out.

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