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Hello Hollywood: Your child’s first movie

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

When’s the best age?

You’ve been eager to take your toddler to her first movie for a few months, but how do you know she’s really ready?

And what back-up plans have you made if she has a meltdown? We talk to parents who have made that first brave step into a movie theater with a young child.

The jury is out on what age is the perfect age to take your child to her first movie. We talked with real moms to find out how they handled the decision, and discovered that the answers were as unique as the kids themselves.

During infancy

Many parents went to the movies with their infants in tow — not so the baby could watch the movie, but because babies sleep, and sleep often. Babies are often content to be held or nursed during a film and if they fuss, parents plan ahead and sit near an aisle in the back for easy escape.

Usually once babies become mobile and less content to sit with their parents quietly is when movies become less desirable for both the parent and child. “We went a lot when he was an infant, then had a period of no movies when he was mobile and uninterested,” shared Tara, mom of one. “He saw Cars around his first birthday and there's been no turning back. He loves movies and going to theaters. We have journeyed to new, old, outdoor and even dinner theaters.”

Age 2 or 3

The consensus for going to a movie for the child’s sake seemed to be between age 2 and 3. Kayla, mom of one, waited until her little girl could sit through a movie at home before she took that first step into a theater. Some theaters have special showings for smaller children, also. “We took her right after she turned 2,” explained Charlene, mother of two. “It was part of AMC's sensory-friendly films so they are allowed to get up, walk around and talk a bit if they want or need to, and the lights aren’t completely down. She did well; she sat for the first half and then was walking around.”

Vicki from Canada agreed. “We go all the time!” she told us. “Lyra loves the movies. We've been taking her since Olive was born, shortly after her second birthday.”

Others go knowing that their kiddo may not last through the entire movie. “We just took Daphne to her first movie for her second birthday,” said Jenna, mother of two. “She lasted about 45 minutes and she didn't really care about the movie itself. When she started to get a little too rambunctious, we just left. No big deal. I wasn't expecting her to last through the whole thing.”

Special situations

“I found a drive-in movie worked well for us,” said Christina, mom of four whose oldest child has autism. “I only had them all in a theater once; we sat in aisle seats and sat closer to the front so that everyone could see easily. Also making sure everyone was fed and getting there close to start time so they didn’t get bored before it even started.”

Ideally each parent will evaluate when their particular child is ready for the big screen. It can be overwhelming for a small child — loud noise and music, low light and a big room potentially filled with people. With an escape plan in mind (and knowing your child’s unique quirks) you will be able to enjoy a movie, and perhaps start a family movie-going tradition.

Tell us

How old was your child when you first took him to the movies?

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