Dear Diary,

Recently, I went to see a new kids flick–Earth to Echo. The movie, about an adorable alien, hits the big screen July 2. It was refreshing to see new faces, including one of hip hop’s youngest stars, Brian Bradley. Echo is the first product of 3D printing in film, and before the movie was completely printed, the actors used CGI technology to interact with the alien. There are no stunts, flashy costumes or super human tricks. According to one actor, the movie is reminiscent of the classics that we grew up watching.

I grew up with the fascination of E.T. and the adventure of The Goonies. And if you enjoyed these films, you’re going to like Earth to Echo. The movie, aimed at children, entertains adults as well. To catch the innocence and creativity of the kids, the entire movie is done from the perspective of the kids. You’ll see views from their phones and hidden cameras. Remember the Blair Witch Project–yes, it’s like that.

If you’re kids are six and up, they’ll probably like this movie. So how old should your children be before you take them to see their first movie in the theater? Developmental psychologist Marilyn Segal says that children are able to watch a full movie and enjoy it as young as 4-years-old. At that age, they are able to understand stories and have enough patience to sit through one or two hours. This said, every kid is different.

As a mom who loves movies–I went almost every week before I had kids, I want to share this entertaining experience with my kids. I took all my kids with me to the movies between 0-6 months, with no issues. My diaper bag was close by, but no issues. I will admit, it was harder to take them between 6-18 months, but we still went! By the age three, my kids were pros at watching movies without talking or fidgeting. It’s one of my son’s favorite things to do with mommy, and he turns five later this month.

Like kids, not all movies are same, so you want to select something that peaks your child’s interest. A good way to know whether or not your child is  ready to go to a theater, host a movie night at home. Have a routine of going to the restroom, getting comfortable and having snacks in hand before you press play. Turn off all the lights. I like to give my kids an idea of what they’re about to watch before the movie starts and tell them fun things to look forward to. They get very excited once they see what I was talking about.

Here’s a movie mom’s tips on taking a toddler to a movie theater.

Attend a Morning Matinee

Attend a movie in the morning or early afternoon–before nap time. Most major movie theaters have a family hour around noon, but if yours doesn’t the earliest showings are best. There are smaller crowds and more families. If you have kids under five, I don’t recommend 3D movies. They’re distracting and uncomfortable to the little ones, and they just won’t get it.

Arrive Early

When you get to the movies, you want to make sure you use the same routine with your kids before you settle down. If it’s the first time, I like to get to the theater early and show them around, before the movie starts. I seat them during the previews, so they get comfortable and get all the ants out of their pants before the main event.

Select a Seat

Choose an aisle seat in the middle of the theater.  You’ll be close enough to make a run for the bathroom and far enough from the screen to – you’re not too far from the exit but not too close to the screen.

Pack a Snack

Pack lots of snacks, but ration it out. I usually take my own juices or milk, because most theaters don’t have the brands I buy, or the concession stand is extremely over priced.

If you’re kids are not used to watching TV or movies, you may want to wait on it because the stimulation overload is very overwhelming for them. You’re the parent, so you’ll know best how to handle. Happy viewing!

Hey DFTM Fam–Have you taken your little one to a movie? What tips would you add to the list?

About The Author

Marcelle Alvarado
Multicultural Mom

Marcelle is a mom raising four children all under four with her partner in Los Angeles, CA. She writes about issues impacting Latino mothers and entertainment. She loves motherhood, which has proven to be the greatest challenge and highest privilege in her life. When not writing for DFTM, Marcelle blogs at Chicana Momma. A former labor organizer, Marcelle is committed to working on social justice issues for the working class and women of color.

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