First Cinema Experience: Tips for a Stress Free Trip to the Movies

S and I love loved going to the cinema, when we were dating and before #JasperBean came into our lives, our weekends and evenings would be filled with cinematic experiences. Heck, our first date was at the cinema! Whether this was psycho-thrillers, chick flicks, war documentaries or secret cinema experiences, we never considered this as a treat. Now with a toddler in tow, this has become a rare treat because I never was brave enough to bring an unpredictable bundle of energy to the big screen. Anyone with a toddler that doesn’t keep quiet or sit still will know what I mean. However, we decided to take the bull by its horns and take our toddler to his first cinema experience.


Like with any first time experiences, my mind was racing with every possible question and scenario. Would he sit still? Is he going to enjoy the movie? Would he be scared of the big screen and dark room? Will he ask numerous questions and make annoying noises? Should I plan it so that he’s just had a nap or before? Would he fall asleep if it’s during his nap time? Is this what I want? Have I packed enough snack? Or would he have the popcorn and possibly choke? Would he have a meltdown and start screaming? All this time, I was so focused on something going wrong that I never contemplated that it could all go right!

Nevertheless, I believe all my questioning and worrying has resulted in me learning a thing or two. So here are my tips on making your first cinema experience more enjoyable and relaxing.

We went to see Ferdinand at the Odeon cinema over their preview weekend and to celebrate the release, they gave away a free plush keyring to every child who went. #win

First Cinema Experience: Tips for a Stress Free Trip to the Movies

Look for cues that your child is ready for the big screen

Watching a movie in the cinema is VERY different from watching TV at home. It’s dark, loud and big! This can be quite intimidating and scary for a child. So if your child is sensitive to bright lights and loud noises, then it would be best to leave this until they’re a little bit older. The environment has to be comfortable for them to enjoy and sit around for the next 2 hours.

Choose a movie that they will enjoy

This sounds pretty obvious, but like all trips that involves children, you need to tailor it to their needs. Otherwise you’re going to have a messy day that no one will enjoy and won’t be attempting again anytime soon. Check out the storyline and read up on some reviews if possible. Don’t just rely on age appropriate guidelines as these are too general and do not give you enough information to make an educated decision.

Prep them

Tell them all about what is going to happen, what they can expect and get them involved. Like the previous point, you want to choose the right movie for them, but let them have some say in what they want to watch. This way, they are more likely to be engaged and feel in control. Get them excited and make this a positive experience. The first time we encountered “Ferdinand” was at the Hamley’s Toy Parade on Regent’s Street, London. There was a giant Ferdinand float that #JasperBean was very hesitant about, but at the same time fascinated. There were giveaways, special viewings and Ferdinand mascots, so he kind of knew what to expect. We also clocked on the fact that he would like it because he kept on watching the trailer on youtube on repeat!

Remember, you can continue to interact with your child during the movie. Ask them questions, show your emotions, just keep it between yourselves.

Choose an aisle seat

Me and S usually would pick the seats that are in the middle so that we get the full benefit of the big screen. But with cinematic advances, this is no longer necessary, PLUS you really don’t want to make this mistake if you have kids with you. Potty breaks, mini walks, leg stretches, whatever it may be that means you or your kid needs to leave their seat means sitting by the aisle will cause as little disruption as possible.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks!

Wherever you go, always, always have lots of snacks and water with you. You would have heard me piping on about this on our travels and packing essentials. So here I am again, repeating this mantra – Pack as much snacks and water as you can carry. A hungry, frustrated toddler is not going to listen by any stretch of the imagination and the only magic you can muster is providing them with their favourite snacks. Oh, and keep some of those “forbidden” snacks in your bag/pocket for emergency! You never know, you might need to break out the Chupa Chups, chocolate bars or whatever floats your little ones boat.

Look out for toddler friendly screenings

A lot of cinema’s in the UK do toddler friendly screenings which means they are much more cosy, have dimmed lights, instead of dark and don’t mind you making some noise. Everyone in there will probably be experiencing the same thing as you – the same worries, hesitations and panic. So don’t worry, you’re not alone!


Prepare to leave

This is their first cinematic experience, so don’t be embarrassed or frustrated if you have to leave before the movie finishes… or if you’re only 10, 20 minutes in. Sometimes, with kids, things just happen. There could be a million and one reasons why, but if you sense that your child is upset, disengaged, anxious etc, or you don’t think the movie is right for them. Just calmly get up, collect your belongings and leave. Walking away is much better than trying to power through the movie with an agitated, unhappy, or screaming child, your fellow cinema-goers will thank you for that too.

Maybe they just need some fresh air, fingers crossed that they would want to go back in and continue watching. However, if that is the end of your experience, then leave it at that. Don’t make it hard on your child, they don’t need to feel bad about what happened. There will be a second, third, fourth trip to the cinema. One bad experience does not mean every experience will end the same. Always end with a hoorah! You’ve taken the first step towards a new adventure and that is something to celebrate!

Need more tips for your first cinema experience? Of course!

  • Pick a time that doesn’t coincide with naps or energy bursts.
  • Go for normal 2D screenings, 3D glasses and funny eyes are too much of a hassle. Plus you save some money, so you can go get an ice cream to celebrate your first cinema experience!
  • Skip the previews, your kid is probably not interested. Use that time for potty breaks, dance and sing alongs or whatever you want to release some energy before entering and sitting for the next 90+ minutes (fingers crossed).
  • Bring a toy or a lovey/blanket for comfort.
  • Most cinemas have booster seats, grab these at the foyer or ask for one well beforehand, especially if you’re going on a busy day.
  • If required, let them sit on your lap.

When was the first time you took your kids to the movies? What did you see? Did they enjoy it? Did you enjoy it? Ferdinand is on general release from today, 15 December 2017 in 2D and 3D.

Thanks for reading and until next time…

Love, MsMamaBean x


This post is linked up to the following linkys:

Twin Mummy and Daddy

44 comments

  1. twinmumemily

    Our girls love the cinema. This film looks good. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      We’re eyeing up our next film trip already! 😊

      Reply

  2. Bar

    Great advice! Especially the snacks part!

    Reply

  3. Tonya Tardiff

    Great tips! I love going to the movies and it does make me nervous when we will start having kids. I appreciate you sharing your experience and tips. Bookmarked for future reference.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Thanks for bookmarking! Doing the same thing with and without kids is such a massive difference but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy it 😉

      Reply

  4. Tracey Bowden

    I can’t remember my daughter’s first trip to the cinema now but I know we went t a kid friendly screening. It’s always the best plan as you know if the worst does happen, everyone will be Ok as it’s expected. Saying that my daughter went with my sister and her 4 year old at the weekend to a Paw Patrol showing and she just wasn’t ready so they left #blogstravaganza

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Oh that’s a shame, but at least she got a taste of it and knows what to expect next time if they ever decide to go again soon. Well done on walking away though! It can seem like such a waste, but it’s for the best if they’re not ready.

      Reply

  5. itsahero

    So we were the same way when we were dating! We always went to the theater! We decided to start our oldest out at the movies when he was 3 with the $1 movies — that way we didn’t feel pressured to stay!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      That’s really clever and a real bargain! I wished we had those screenings here!

      Reply

  6. All She Things

    These are great tips for taking a toddler to their first movie. It is a first time for both the baby and the parents so these tips will definitely help.

    Reply

  7. thetaleofmummyhood

    The cinema is something we are yet to brave with our little ones, it will be great when they can sit through a showing though! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza – Merry Christmas! Xx

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      We tried letting him watch a short movie at home first and he managed to get through most of it without running off, so we took the plunge! Hopefully you’ll be able to take your little ones on this experience soon and a Happy Christmas to you and your family too! X

      Reply

  8. Sweet Coralice

    I’ll be taking my 6 year old nephew to see Ferdinand this weekend…I love our movie dates! Toddlers are unpredictable at the movies, even when seeing a kid show. These tips are great 😉

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      I hope he loves the movie! And yes I agree, toddlers really are unpredictable! I guess that’s what make it daunting yet fun!

      Reply

  9. NaturallyTeighlored

    Great tips! It helped me realize whether or not to take my little cousins to the movies with me.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      I hope you’ll take them to the movies! It’s such a great experience!

      Reply

  10. Rachel Catherine

    I love these tips. Going to the movies for the first time is such a big deal for kids.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      I guess every first time is a big deal. X

      Reply

  11. One Messy Mama

    These are such good tips. We took our kids to the theatre yesterday… They had an absolute ball… For the first half, which was an hour long. Then they started to get edgy and we made the decision to leave. They didn’t even realise that we hadn’t finished the entire show 🙂 #thatfridaylinky

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Well done!! As long as everyone had fun, that’s all that matters! x

      Reply

  12. BusyLazyMum

    Some great tips here. We took our boys to the baby/toddler friendly showings when they were little and moved onto normal showings when they were more settled. Thanks for sharing. #blogstravaganza

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      I think it’s awesome that they have baby/toddler friendly viewings, it makes everything so much easier for everyone and no expectations to be perfect.

      Reply

  13. 21flavorsofsplendor

    These are great tips! We waited until our girls were about 3 years old before taking them to the movies and now they love it! Popcorn and snacks are still a must.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      This is such a great family activity and really opens up to lots of conversations afterwards!

      Reply

  14. Megan | LoveFamilyHealth

    GREAT tips! I have yet to take my soon to be 3yr old to a movie because I am too scared! But I agree with the “be prepared to leave” I would always sit by the isle when my son was little just incase we needed to go!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      We’re all scared of things we haven’t previously tried, but you have to be comfortable and ready before going, so there really is no rush.

      Reply

  15. Amanda Kanashiro

    Such great tips, I still haven’t ventured out to the movies with my little one. I think I’m going to wait till the cheap movies in the summer so I don’t feel bad if we leave early.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Very true! And savvy thinking there! If they didn’t enjoy the movie, you don’t lose it on a lot and there would be plenty of other activities to do in the summer too!

      Reply

  16. Michelle Blackwood

    Love the idea of choosing the center aisle and taking lots of snacks!

    Reply

  17. Chelsea @ Olive & Ivy

    Great tips! It’s funny how when you don’t have kids yet, you don’t at all realize how much thought and planning has to go into seemingly simple things like this. The keychain is so cute!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Everything is in the planning, but also not stressing about the detail. Life’s perspective changes when you have to think of someone other than yourself ☺️

      Reply

  18. Magen Golden

    We took our son to the movies about a month ago for the first time. He yelled at the screen once when it started for being too loud, but after that all was nice.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Haha it must have been quite a shock for everyone! I’m glad it was a great experience for you and your family!! More movie dates from now on!

      Reply

  19. shanniechic

    I don’t have kids but these are such great ideas! Way to really think it through!

    Reply

  20. Kara

    I don’t have kids so this is something I NEVER even thought about! Interesting to read for when I do though 🙂

    Reply

  21. Diana

    Perfect timing! I want to bring my son to the movies, so I think now I’ll finally try!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Good luck and hope your have a smashing time!

      Reply

  22. julieannhoag

    Ah! I remember this stage well with each of my three boys! You have great tips and I used some of the same tips for my boys at their first cinema experience. I remember for my youngest, he actually fell asleep in theater and I couldn’t imagine how he could sleep when it was so loud! Fun times with kids taking them to the movies, something we still enjoy together now that they are older.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      It really is fun going to the movies and I can’t wait to share more memories like this together! There is something magical about watching them together, memories seem to be lodged in my brain better!! Haha 😂

      Reply

  23. Wanda Lopez

    Great tips, specially the aisle one and the snacks… lots of snacks!

    Reply

  24. ohmummymia

    Awww I can’t wait to take my little boy to the cinema but I’m not sure if he would be able to sit there for more than 15 minutes:D

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      He might just surprise you, like they always do 🙂

      Reply

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