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When Will You Take Your Toddler To The Movies?

By Naomi Odes |

movie theaterI love the movies, although I rarely go now that I’m a mom. This past weekend I was able to escape with a friend to see The Ides of March, the first first-run movie I’ve seen in eons. I enjoyed myself immensely.

When I left I thought about how Shnook is finally getting close to an age that I feel is appropriate to take him to the movies.  When he was a baby, I used to take him to the mommy movies, but once he got too squirmy, I had to stop that.  But, those were movies for me, not him.

I know lots of other kids his age have already gone to the movies several times, which would explain why all their toys are from movies. When they play with Woody and Buzz, Shnook just pretends he knows what the hell is going on.

I really want his first movie-going experience to be special. I want to see the right movie and I want him to remember it fondly. I know, that’s asking a lot considering most people don’t remember much about being three, but I definitely have some memories from that age, so it’s possible if he has a good experience, (or a really bad one) that he’ll remember it.

The problem is that I have no idea what the heck is playing now for adults, let alone for kids. I see billboards all over the place (I do live in Hollywood, after all) and can guess that a film might be good for a three-year-old, but really, I have no idea. The holidays are coming, there must be something good out there aimed at little ones.  I saw an ad for Puss-N-Boots which looked appealing, but it’s in 3-D. To me, that seems like overkill for the first time at the theater when you’re only three.

So, I’d love some advice on this issue. If you have gone to the movies with your toddler, which one did you start with, and did you do any kind of preparation for the experience? What movie did you see? How did it go?

Am I over-thinking this?

Photo by emdot

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About Naomi Odes

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Naomi Odes

Naomi Odes Aytur is a blogger who's contributed on the parenting channel of Babble. She chronicles her experiences of being a new mom on her personal website, I Am Still Awake. Read bio and latest posts → Read Naomi's latest posts →

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13 thoughts on “When Will You Take Your Toddler To The Movies?

  1. Adina says:

    Nola’s grandparents took her to see Pooh when she was 3.5 – she loved it but as a word of warning was really scared of the previews, which were often less toddler/preschooler friendly.

  2. Jamie says:

    My son was 3 1/2 when we took him to see his first movie – Cars 2. He was the perfect age and sat through the entire movie and enjoyed eating popcorn. He thought it was a really neat experience — and it definitely helped that he loved the first Cars. I’ll probably wait until my girls around that age before braving a movie with them as well.

  3. Kara says:

    I took my 1 and a half year old to the movies for the first time a few weeks ago. She was great, didn’t make a peep except some giggling at appropriate times. I think once they can sit through movies well at home, it might be time to give it a try.

  4. mel says:

    We took my son to see Tangled in theaters (for his sister’s 10th birthday) when he was 18mths old he made it thru most of the movie. We have taken him to the drive in to see others with relatively the same result. he gets thru al most all the movie (thankfully at the drive in he can stretch his legs and talk and it won’t bother anyone). Try a short movie and try to get there “late” after most or all the previews. Depenedimg on how old your child it may make a difference. We took our daughter for the first time when she was three and she was squirmy and had to go potty alot. The next time was better. The first time I think its new and you can sometimes miss some of the movie. Usually better the second or third time.

  5. Joan says:

    My husband and I are huge movie fans, so we pushed it a little with our kids, but in hindsight, we started too early. Squirmy boy #1 went to a few movies at the age of three, but they were stressful for us…he kept asking to go to the bathroom, asking for snacks, squirming in his seat, etc. By the time he was four, however, he was completely ready to sit through a feature film and we’ve been bringing him successfully ever since. Squirmy boy #2 went to a couple of movies at the age of two…Megamind and Mars Needs Moms…and he did so well that we thought he was going to be a great little movie-goer! But when he turned three, something changed and the last few movies we brought him to have been total disasters. He just could not sit still past the 40-minute mark. So we’re going to wait until he’s four to try again. All kids are different, but I think for our boys, four is the magic number when it comes to movies. Also, the 3-D glasses can be annoying for little kids…our oldest is 6 now and will wear them and loves them now, but when he was younger, he just kept taking them off, which means he’s just watching a blurry version of the movie. I would avoid 3-D with a 3-year-old. Also, look at the length of the movie — I wouldn’t take a toddler to anything longer than 90 minutes.

  6. Anon says:

    I still haven’t brought my 4 year old twin boys to the movies yet. I know one of my sons is ready, but not sure about the other as he has a short attention span. I was thinking that their first theater movie could be the Lion King, but it is in 3D also, so not sure if that would be too much.

  7. Nicole says:

    I took my daughter to her first movie a few weeks ago. She’s 4. We saw The Lion King, in 3D. I think it was a good introduction to the movies for her, and since the film wasn’t originally developed for 3D, there really wasn’t a lot of “stuff” that comes at you.

  8. Ariadne says:

    The Muppets is coming out around Thanksgiving! That would be an awesome and fun first movie!

    1. Naomi says:

      @Ariadne- that sounds like a perfect first movie since we are all big fans of the Muppets and the only other full movie he saw was The Muppets Take Manhattan on Netflix.

  9. Danielle says:

    I am chuckling a little bit inside about the part about having him remember his first movie…a little like losing his virginity. We took Maddy to see The Princess and the Frog when she was 3…it went fairly well, but she did not sit in her seat for very long. She preferred to stand and dance in the aisles to the music, and then came running over when something pseudo-scary happened. Also, I wouldn’t take him to a 3-D movie right now, he probably won’t keep the glasses on if he’s anything like my daughter. I just took Maddy to see The Lion King in 3-D this past weekend, and she sat in her seat and kept the glasses on the whole time, but she is 5 (which seems worlds away from 3 now). I think you should just pick one you think you like, and go for it!

  10. Jesse says:

    I’ve been wanting to take my 2 1/2 year old to her first movie for some time now. Her favorite movie is the Lion King and when I saw they were releasing it in 3D, we just had to go!

    So we went to the theater, got popcorn, a drink, some candy -everything you need for the movie experience. She had heard about the movies many times and everyone had explained the large screen, the popcorn, etc, etc

    When we got into the theater and sat down with our 3D glasses on and the previews began. She almost immediately turned to me and said “Daddy, I don’t like it, I want to go home.” When she continued to cry after her favorite movie began I knew we had to call it quits. The theater gave us our money back and was very understanding, I’m sure they deal with things like this all the time.

    We talked about it after and she said it was “too big” and “too scary”. She didn’t seem to mind the glasses, but I think they may have contributed to a sort of sensory overload. Toddlers really just learned how to use all of their senses and I can’t recall how mentally grueling watching your first movie entails.

    We haven’t gone back yet, but she keeps asking about it. My personal advice would be to skip the 3D if possible. Also, be prepared to leave if all else fails.Since most movie theaters will likely have a similar return policy on tickets so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Give it a try!

    1. Naomi says:

      Wow, thanks for your comments everyone!

      @Jesse – definitely going to skip the 3-D
      @Danielle- LOL re the virginity comment.
      @Joan- thanks for relaying your experience, I will take into account!
      @Nicole- good to know about the Lion King
      @Adina- thank re: the previews. I really wish they’d skip them for kid movies!

  11. Christina says:

    My daughter was almost 2 when we took her to the movie theater. She has seen four movies in theater: Pooh, Cars 2, Smurfs, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

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