“Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowds…”
It’s America’s favorite pastime but how do you navigate a baseball game with an infant or toddler? Not only is it do-able, but it can be a fun and memorable time for the whole family.
Before you even get the park there are a couple of things to keep in mind: time of day and location. If possible, try to time the game around your child’s nap schedule. Since baseball games usually last several hours, most likely some portion of the game will conflict with your child’s sleeping schedule. Our little man is 16 months so we chose a day game with a one o’clock start time. Picking seats are key as well. At most ball parks kids under three feet tall are free, (some parks go by age) if they sit on a parent’s lap. Try to pick seats on an aisle, or in the first row of a section so there is extra room to let your little one stand and move around. Many parks also have a park within the park, or a playground, or some sort of open space where you can still see the game but kids can run free. We selected seats on the same level and as close to this area as we could. This way we had easy and quick access to spend a couple innings in the middle of the game burning up some energy. We also had the luxury of having my parents with us so we could take turns holding and playing with our little one.
“Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack, I don’t care if I never get back…”
Snacks are key. Even as adults we love ball park food… it’s probably the only time some people crave a hot dog. Whether it’s a cracker jacks, cotton candy or the gourmet eats now served at many ball parks, food choices are crucial. Most ball parks will let you bring in snack and drinks for your toddler. If you have milk or juice and it’s not sealed but in an open bottle or sippy cup, most likely security will make you have your child “taste” each liquid upon entry. This is to make sure that the drink is actually for your kid and a clever way for you to smuggle in spirits. I’ve been told some parents will go to great lengths to bring in their own alcohol! If you don’t want the hassle then make sure your drink – milk, water, juice – is sealed. As far as food, you can bring in fruit, pouches, or most any other snack for your little one. Since flavors and food are all fairly new it could be fun to share some of your food with your child. A couple spoonfulls of your soft serve, or bites of your pretzel will be a big hit and buy you some time to watch the game.
“Let me root, root, root for the home team…”
Encourage your little one to cheer for the team and engage them in the game. Our little guy loved all the music before each batter and the short videos played on the giant videoboard. He clapped for each guy as they took the plate and cheered hard, even screaming when someone would hit the ball. He loved the enthusiasm of everyone around him and fed off of their excitement. Fortunately, we had a good section of fans surrounding us and there were other children as well so everyone was on the same page.
“If they don’t win it’s a shame, For it’s one, two, three strikes, You’re out at the old ballgame.”
Whether your team wins or loses it will definitely be a memorable day for your family. Be sure to take lots of pictures and a few videos to capture that wonder of a first baseball game. It changed the way we watched the game too. Half of the game I spent starring at my little guy because I loved how excited he was and how much fun he was having. His expressions were priceless and it filled me with joy hear his laughter and squeals. It was the first game of what will soon be a family tradition.