After going to this weekend’s Flaming Lips concert at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and being complemented on our parent planning skills and concert preparation, I thought I would share a few tips about getting out to see shows with a small one.
Research the Venue
First off… is the venue all ages. This will help answer the first question of whether you should take him or leave him. There are lots of all ages venues in San Diego: the Marquee, Lestats, SOMA, Epicentre, Java Joe’s at Café Libertalia, Club 8Teen (formerly Avalon, now called something else) and ChannelTwelve25. The Del Mar Fairgrounds holds concerts throughout the summer as do a number of communities (Bird Park Concerts, Trolley Barn Concerts, etc.)… Plus there are many street fairs and festivals that are open to everyone.
Take in consideration that you will need a place to change the baby that is inoffensive (sorry, no changing on dinner tables). The ground always a place as long as you have a quiet corner and the proper changing tools mainly a blanket or pad.
Make sure there is a place you can step away from the action for fussiness. This could be outside, another room, or just distancing yourself from the action. This is important in smaller venues where cries could potentially disturb the show.
If you think the music isn’t loud, you’re wrong. You want your child to grow up with his or her full capacity to hear even the softest of noises. I have been to so many concerts and bouts where parents think that if they are sleeping or if they aren’t reacting, that the noise must not be bad for them. I don’t personally have a link to the research on this, but I know that theory is wrong.
There are options for protecting your child’s hearing even as early as 2-3 months (before that you should really avoid taking you kids to places with loud music/noises… get a sitter). We use the Peltor Kid Ear Muffs. They cost less than $20, they last until your child is about 7 years old, and they come in three colors (pink, blue and black). If you start your kid young in these, they would be bothered wearing them. They can still hear the music but it takes the edge off. Thomas has enjoyed listening to Roger’s band practice and has even fallen asleep while wearing them.
Pack Your Bags
Just like going out for the day, you need to be sure to pack food, milk or formula, diapers, wipes, clothes, a bib, a burp cloth and toys. Make sure that you think about the food temperature. In many concert situations you won’t have access to heat a bottle. My child is not picky about temperature, so leaving milk or food out at room temperature is good enough.
Also don’t forget about your needs. Often when I am packing for Thomas, I forget that I need a jacket or food. It will happen, but here is another reminder to take care of yourself too.
Your Arms Can Only Hold So Much
It really does suck if you have to hold a sleeping baby for hours. Consider the venue again. Think about whether a sling or stroller is more appropriate. If you are standing room only, a stroller is better towards the back of the room while a sling allows you to get closer to the action.
Bonus/luxury items include having a backpack style carrier or a wagon. We are lucky to own both (as gifts). The backpack we have yet to use but believe it will come in useful during street fairs. It will be great place to feed him on the go too.
The wagon we have is a portable, fold up wagon called Fold-It & Go Portable Wagon. It folds up like a PacknPlay to load in and out of your car. The wheels are large making it easy to go over rough terrain (like sand). It claims to hold up to 150 lbs. We use it as a playpen (for now) and a portable crib. The only thing it is lacking is brakes so supervision is heavily needed.
At the Flaming Lips concert we loaded up our wagon with a small cooler, a couple of chairs, and a bags of our stuff. On the way out, we hauled Thomas, passed out in the wagon with the earmuffs still on, back to the car while carrying the rest of the gear. It was perfect for this occasion. It should be also be useful for the Bird Park Concerts.
The biggest takeaway for me is all of the preplanning. It is no longer possible to just leave the house on a whim. Before I would preplanning for comfort, now it is a necessity.
If you have any additional tips on concert going with kids/babies, feel free to comment.