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3 Tips for a Great First Movie Theater Experience

3 Tips for a Great First Movie Theater Experience

So your toddler adores Lightning McQueen, but you're not sure whether he's ready for a full-length movie theater experience. If you're wondering whether your child is old enough to bring to the movie theater, we’re sharing advice from fellow moms on when to introduce your kid to the theater—along with tips on making the experience smooth for your fellow audience members.

When is it Okay to Take Your Child to the Movies?

Aside from a few moms who admit that they brought their quietly breastfeeding babies into a movie theater, the consensus among Circle of Moms members seems to be that you should wait until your child is between the ages of 2 and 4 to introduce her to the big screen experience.

Within that range, however, moms advise that readiness depends entirely on the individual child.  As Laura M. shares: “I think it really depends on your child. My middle daughter behaved well at children's movies when she was 3, but my youngest (who is now 3 1/2) is too active to sit still or be quiet during a movie. She may never be able to sit still for an entire movie...LOL!”

Savannah M. agrees: “I fully believe it's different for every child. My son is 2 1/2 and will sit through movies at home and his favorite TV shows because he has the attention span [for it]…If you feel your child is ready and can sit through it then go for it. If you know he/she can't make through a 30 minute TV show...then you know he/she isn't ready.”

In addition to a child's ability to happily sit still for nearly two hours, the theater's noise level is also a consideration. As Emma C. relays: “I took my son to see his first cinema movie when he was 3. He did enjoy it, but I think it was a little loud when the action parts came on, so...if I could do it over again, probably closer to 4 would be a good age.”

Tips for a Good Movie Theater Experience — for All

In addition to avoiding bringing an antsy toddler to a Friday night showtime, Circle of Moms members offer several tips for enjoying a movie with a young child in tow.

1. Sit Where You Can Exit Easily

First, choose a seat with an easy exit route, in case your child becomes disruptive and you need to bolt, or if they suddenly need to use the restroom. As Ahmie Y. advises: “Just always be ready to take them out into the lobby if they start getting noisy and try to sit toward the back so you don't disturb other patrons with your exit.”

2. Explain That Movies Are a "Quiet Zone"

Emphasizing that a movie theater is a quiet zone, is also important. Tina P. encourages: “It's good to teach your child how to be quiet in the movie, even though others aren't."

3. Choose Matinees and Child-Friendly Showtimes

 It may seem like common sense, but you may also want to steer clear of Friday and Saturday night showtimes. As Denise B. implores: “Consider your audience! Seriously, parents...in your heyday did you want to see an infant or toddler at your date night? If you are seeing an adult movie splurge and pay for a babysitter...Nothing p'ed me off more than the 2-year-old running around in the front row with her light-up sneakers at the last date night movie I had!”

Instead, opt for matinee showtimes or special kid-friendly programs. “We have a theater by us that does 'dinner and a movie,'" Tasha W. shares. "It's very kid-friendly and my daughter (who is now 2 years, 7 months) does really good. I would recommend a place like that if you could find one.” Similarly, Melissa B. recommends discounted summer movies for kids: “They are usually re-runs...but at my theater are only $1. These are great, because if your child doesn't make it through the movie, you can leave without feeling like you left half your wallet behind!”

Looking for more opinions and tips on taking a child to the movies? Check out conversations on the topic in Circle of Moms' Debating Mums, Young Moms Aged 20-30, and Parenting Debates & Hot Topics communities.

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Join The Conversation
LisaGarrison40962 LisaGarrison40962 4 years
Lucky for us we have a drive in theater to take our three year old to. She likes to talk about the movie. I can just watch the movie in the car or sit in our lawn chairs outside and enjoy the movie. Besides it brings me back to my childhood. If we didnt have a drive in I would wait. Its cheaper that way also.
AmberChristy AmberChristy 4 years
I can't say that any of this is helpful. I took my two year old son to a child friendly movie at one in the afternoon. Not only was I cursed at profusely by the other parents AND the teenagers there for my son who kept asking me questions about the movie, but they all had the nerve to tell me I was a terrible parent for bringing my son out in public with his behavior being so terrible. I didn't find it so rude or disruptive. He sat in his seat, he had his popcorn and his juice and if he didn't understand the movie, he would ask me a question. There were other children running and screaming through the theater, but those parents left. My son was just curious and I was the one who got a standing ovation when we were forced to leave the theater because my son was 'too loud'. Where's a solution for that?
LauraWalsh361 LauraWalsh361 4 years
I took our son to the movies recently. He turned two in June. The movie length was One Hour. He did great for the first 45 minutes and the last fifteen he wanted to talk to the little girl ahead of us. People were not as bothered as you might think. they understand that the movie we went to Is for children G rated. We went at a matinee at a time when most if not all the patrones were younger people. The only thing I forgot about and had to consoul him was between the movie and previews there is a few seconds of complete darkness and he got very upset. Other than that we had a great time.
NatalieFrisbie NatalieFrisbie 4 years
My daughter just turned 4 and I really think it's time to introduce her to movie theaters. Think I'll stop for some earmuffs first though, as she doesn't like loud noises. lol
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