Gameday Guide: Taking Little Ones to Their First NFL Game
Although the thought of taking your little ones to an NFL game can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. With a little pre-game planning and some preparation, it can be an extremely enjoyable and memorable experience for you and the kiddos to attend a game to support your favorite team.
Read more: NFL Season Frequently Asked Questions
What to Pack
Any parent knows that keeping your children fed and entertained are key to making sure they’re comfortable and avoiding meltdowns. To that end, here are a few items you shouldn’t leave home without when attending an NFL game. Be advised: your instinct may be to throw these things into a large purse, diaper bag or a cooler, but they’re not permitted at most stadiums for safety reasons. Instead, pack them in a clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bag that’s no larger than 12” x 6’ x 12” to ensure you’ll get them into the game.
Read more: 4 Helpful Tips to Prep for NFL Gameday
Bring snacks! Most stadiums allow fans to bring in food for babies and toddlers, so pack some nutritious snacks to save time and money spent at concession stands. You can still purchase meals at the stadium, but it’s a good idea to have some nibbles on hand at all times so you don’t have to contend with a hangry kid!
Bring ear protection. Little ones have very sensitive ears and can easily be overstimulated, so earplugs and noise-limiting headphones are a great way to protect them. Most stadiums can get quite loud and you wouldn’t want your kids to feel overwhelmed or to damage their ears.
Bring one or two of their favorite toys. While the action on the field may offer all the excitement you could hope for, your little one might not be as intrigued. Having one or two favorite toys on hand to entertain them can be a lifesaver. It’ll keep them occupied and give you more time to focus on the game.
Bring baby carriers. Rules vary at each stadium, but most don’t allow strollers. So bring along a baby carrier or sling to ensure your baby’s safety and your comfort. It will also help you avoid having to check in your stroller at the gate or make the long walk back to your car to drop it off.
Getting to the Stadium
Taking public transportation to the game can be a great option for a family outing if it’s convenient in your area. That said, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast beforehand as rain or extreme heat can put a damper on the experience and strain the entire family, so it might be easier just to drive.
Tailgating With Kids
It may seem counterintuitive, but tailgating with kids can be a lot of fun! Bring some kid-friendly snacks, some balls for them to throw around and toys to play with, and they’ll likely enjoy the socializing, food and music as much as you do. Just try to avoid positioning yourself near rowdy groups of grownups boozing it up.
Read more: How to Tailgate at a Football Game
Entering & Admission
Is There an Age Limit for NFL Games?
There is no minimum age limit for attending an NFL game and, in many cases, young children can attend games free of charge.
Do I Need to Buy a Ticket for My Child to Attend an NFL Game?
Ticket price policies for children vary depending on the team and the stadium. Some require anyone attending the game to buy a ticket regardless of age, while others allow children under the age of 2 or 3, or who meet certain maximum height requirements to attend free of charge (as long as they sit on an adult’s lap during the game). Check the policies of the stadium you’re visiting to confirm the details.
During the Game
As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have snacks on hand (without too much sugar to avoid the sugar rush and subsequent crash) as well as your children’s favorite toys to keep them occupied and content during the game.
If you’ve got a toddler, it helps to take breaks during the game and find an open space where they can run around and blow off steam for a few minutes before coming back to your seats. Babies also need breaks from all the stimulation and noise of the game and the crowds.
If your child is a little older, you can get them involved in the game by attending the pregame warm ups and explaining the rules, pointing out the scoreboard and how to read it, and of course rooting for the home team.
Take your time leaving the stadium. While it may be tempting to rush out, if you stay in your seats a little longer while crowds filter out, it will make getting out of the stadium a much less stressful experience.
To make the journey home more enjoyable, recap the game with older kids and ask them to recount their favorite plays and what they liked most about the game. You’ll enjoy seeing it through their eyes and it will be the cherry on top of an awesome day!
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