Tips for letting your sports fan freak flag fly… even with two babies in tow

January 12 | Guest post by SaraBeth
Photo by j_anet, used under Creative Commons license.
Every family has different traditions. About four or five years ago we started the family tradition of going to a Toronto Marlies hockey game over the holidays. This year we took our four-month-old twins Molly and Jack to their first real hockey game. After an hour of preparation (one diaper per baby per hour, plus one extra, three extra sleepers, two teethers, three soothers, 32 ounces of food, Baby Tylenol, gripe water, plastic bags and wipes) we were on the subway heading to the Air Canada Centre.

I'd say that our outing, while exhausting, was a huge success. So I've come up with a list of tips when travelling with your young babies to a sports outing to help make life easier.

Set low expectations for those around you

When we sat down with our content babies the group behind us cooed over how cute they were. They may not have felt that way by the end of the game…but we thanked them just the same.

Find the washrooms early

Scope out the washrooms for change stations ahead of time — before you need them. While there were no changing stations in either men or women's facilities right by our section there was a family washroom down the hall.

Over-prepare

We went through all of the food but four ounces and had to change five diapers during our outing. Extra diapers never hurt anyone.

You want at least one adult for each kid present

Always have at least one more adult than child present. They won't have to do much, but the extra set of hands makes a huge difference when it comes to holding your beer, pizza, or grabbing a soother.

Mascots can make or break you

Mascots can be your best friend, or worst enemy. During the first period when Molly got fussy Duke the Dog came over to cheer her up and it actually worked. Then he moved three rows in front of us and pretended to make out with a woman while her boyfriend was getting beer. Service and a show?

Overchange those diapers!

Overchange — don't underchange — diapers, because no one wants a wet lap. At the last break in play during the first period we ran to the family washroom to change both diapers, even though both babies weren't fussing. Unfortunately the children enjoyed their clean diapers so much that they both immediately crapped their pants when they got back to their seats, but we only missed a few minutes of the second period.

Realize you'll probably miss a great play

Be prepared to miss some of the action and have a good sense of humour about it. Worst case scenario is you walk around the concourse for a while — they usually have TVs, so you won't miss too much.

We got lucky… there was only one set of tears from each baby and it lasted about five minutes each. Jack slept through most of the game, while Molly watched intently. It was a big success. The people behind us didn't hate us by the end of the game. When we got home we all took a nap — it was glorious! Long live family tradition!

Join our community!

  1. Love this, and will refer to is religiously with our upcoming little one. I am a little jealous of your two; I'm 21, a HUGE hockey fan, and I've never been to an actual game. Though my husband and I do credit the Bruins' winning season for the, erm, possibly drunken conception of our child ๐Ÿ™‚

    1 agrees
    • That's a hoot! My husband and I claim that the Bruins won because of Alice – you see, the Red Sox won the year we met, won again the year we married, so (naturally), it's the B's turn the year we have a baby. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Canucks fan chiming in to say thanks bunches for that. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        (Seriously though, I've always been fond of the Bruins – due to Cam Neely being my favourite player going back before he was even drafted – and if they had been playing any other team in the finals…)

        I never took my daughter to a game until she was 5 and could sit still for more than 47 seconds at a time, but we didn't make it through a second period without a meltdown until she was about 8. I got used to watching a lot of middle bits of games from the concourse.
        Along with what everybody else has said, I suggest knowing your kid and their tolerance for staying in one place. Nobody's having fun if the kidlet's miserable. Dropping NHL money and watching the game on TV anyway doesn't make a lot of sense.

        (Oh, and my now nearly 16 year old's best memory of that first game? The ice cream.)

  2. We have season tickets for our (ECHL) state team and we go 1-3 times a week with our 1 year old. I have some additional suggestions:
    1) Hearing protection-our home crowd is LOUD. we have a pair of riflery headphones specifically made for infants. The first time they wont like them but now he wears them for 1 hour or more
    2) Bring a carrier! you WILL be up and walking around at some point (for us it's the third period at almost every game-I don't miss much-they have TVs every 20 feet.
    3)Buy a third seat-sounds self explanitory but with a new walker you will need a place for him to stand up and dance between mom and dad. Diaper bag space & elbow room are great to have. It's worth the extra money(unless they are really small)
    4)Aisle seat! Other spectators get pretty pissed if you block their view of the action when you have to get up.
    5) Snacks, Toys, layers of clothing
    6) We use cloth diapers but for a game we put a "12 hour" disposable on him. Never had a leak yet and no need to wait in the always long line for the bathrooms.

    Did I just commandeer this article? Sorry.

    • Great additional tips! I can't believe I forgot to mention the baby carriers..it's how we took the babies downtown to the game in the first place – we take the baby carriers almost every time we go out, it's so much easier than a double stroller on public transit.

      1 agrees
  3. My two year old must have zamboni water running through his veins, the kid eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. We have been taking him to games since he was a few weeks old. We never tried the headphones suggestion, but I would like to suggest keeping half an eye on the play, as the goal horns get LOUD. We simply watch for the light, cover his ears and he never seemed to be bother by it. Hooray for the next generation of hockey fans!

  4. Ooooh, keeping an eye on this as baseball (WIN TWINS!) is a huge part of our lives, and there will be many ballgames in the future. Any baseball fans have extra notes for that sport in particular? I would think the regular inning breaks make it easier to take breaks (and Target Field broadcasts the play by play audio in the restrooms, so you don't miss anything). However a full ball game is a long time, even at a good pace. I've seen many families duck out around the 5th or 7th.

    Related to most sports: aisle or middle seat? At once the aisle seems easier for you to get up and out of, but you'd also be standing and sitting as people in the middle come and go.

  5. Thank you so much for this! My husband and I are huge hockey fans and I thought having a kid meant we'd have to give up going to see games for a while. I'm glad that's not the case because there is nothing like seeing hockey live!

  6. We brought our son to a MN Wild game, and luckily we were in the suite. We feel like we maybe spoiled it and won't ever want to sit in the regular seats with him. I missed a lot of the game because he is nursing. I just used the family room or the comfy chairs in the hall. (see what I mean about spoiled!) His bed time is at 7:30 so he slept for most of the game, anyway.

  7. My husband won tickets for our local OHL team (Ontario Hockey league) for less than 4 weeks after my due date. Thankfully, they are in a corporate box! We are very optimistically planning to attend our first game as a family in early March. Thanks for sharing your story and for the tips! They will come in handy!

  8. Sports with babes can definitely be done! We have season tickets for University of Washington Football and my daughter was 7 months at the beginning of this past season. Not only did we make all of the games – we also tailgated! I agree with everything that was mentioned: overprepare, baby wearing is much easier than a stroller, and hearing protection is key. I found a pair of earmuffs on amazon – I think they were made by Baby Banz – and my daughter would typically nap at least 1/2 of the game with them on.

    After the first game of the season, it was pretty easy. However, next year is going to be a completely different ball game as she will be mobile.

    1 agrees

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.