Taking your child to his or her first major league baseball game is one of those rites of passage that you'll both always remember. Unfortunately, those memories aren't guaranteed to be good ones.
We lived in Seattle when we took my son to his first game at Safeco field. I was so excited to watch his awe at the experience. He was young -- 3 -- but I knew the game would draw him in and begin his lifelong enjoyment of baseball. Only the whole experience was anything but enjoyable. He squirmed, fussed, and didn't want anything to do with staying his seat. He was much more interested in what the vendors were selling than anything happening on the field. I could only bribe him with so much ice cream and so many hot dogs to sit still, so we ended up not seeing much of the game ... at all.
Determined not to put off family baseball outings indefinitely, I started making a plan for our future ballpark adventures to keep him interested in the game ... without making him sick from too many peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Here are a few ideas for how to keep young kids occupied at a ball game so you can all enjoy it:
Scorecards Whether he's old enough to fill it out or you have to help, giving kids an activity that requires them to follow the game helps them become invested.
Baseball Cards Come armed with baseball cards for the teams you're watching. Have them pull out the card of each batter as he's up, and discuss their details.
Signage Bring markers, crayons, and some paper and let them make signs to cheer their team on to victory.
Teach the Game Before hitting the stadium, teach them the basics of the game. Watch a few innings on television, or better yet, play a game with them. Even if it's with a rolled-sock and a newspaper bat, playing the game themselves will help make the real thing seem more exciting.
Inning Stretches Don't wait for the seventh inning, get up and walk around as frequently as you need to do so. Some stadiums even have playgrounds and other child-friendly places that are fun to explore and burn off some steam for a few minutes.
Incentives Call them bribes if you will, but the promise of little prizes can do big things for little one's ability to sit still. Plan a small surprise for after each inning is complete (party store trinkets, a healthy snack, a new package of baseball cards), and you'll both be surprised how quickly the game flies by.
How do you keep your kids interested in baseball games or other sporting events?
Image via corsairstw/Flickr