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Tailgating and college football go together like peanut butter and jelly. But, if you have little kids, tailgating can seem next to impossible. In fact, it can be so tricky that many parents give up tailgating all together until their kids are bigger. But, it is possible to tailgate with toddlers and babies! Here are my best tips and tricks for tailgating with toddlers to make it easy for you and fun for your little ones.
We started taking our son to college football games when he was 9 months old. And we’ve been tailgating with him from the very beginning. Over the years, I’ve learned some tried and true tips that make tailgating with toddlers enjoyable for us all.
1. Give Your Toddler a Place to Play.
The biggest thing that you need to do when you have a baby or toddler at your tailgate is to create a place specifically for them. This will allow them to play and run around without getting hurt.
When my son was a baby, I created his play zone at our tailgates with a baby fence and a foam mat. The mat fit perfectly inside the fence. He could crawl and roll around as much as he wanted on the mat, while the fence kept him in a safe spot. It also kept the adults from stepping on him or his toys.
As my son grew into a toddler, he was no longer happy being stuck inside the fence. He wanted out where he could walk around a bit more. At that point, I replaced the fence and mat with a play tent.
The tent gave him a space of his own to hide in and play without feeling like he was confined. It also kept his toys out of the way so adults wouldn’t step on them. You can get a similar tent at Amazon.
2. Give Them a Place to Sleep.
Any parent knows that nap time is important. A rested baby is a happy baby. And unfortunately, tailgating doesn’t change this. So, it’s important to have a place where your kiddo can get some sleep when they get tired.
There are many options for sleeping places at tailgates: the play tent, a stroller, a baby carrier, or even a blanket on the grass. What you use for tailgate napping for your child will really depend on where your little one sleeps best.
As long as your baby or toddler is comfortable and able to sleep safely, then you’re good.
Luckily, my son was able to sleep anywhere, so this part was easy for us. We usually used his stroller or baby carrier for naps. But, sometimes, we let him nap in his tent or on his mat.
If your child won’t sleep while at the tailgate, you may need to walk around with them in the stroller or go for a drive to get them to sleep.
3. Give Your Little One a Shady Spot.
During those games early in the season when it is still hot outside, it is important that you have a shady spot for your child at your tailgate. You can accomplish this by putting their play area under the tailgate tent or by putting up a second tent just for them.
Regardless of your method, just make sure you protect your young one’s sensitive skin from the sun. Putting a hat on their heads will also help with this! And don’t forget sunscreen!
4. Pack Some Toddler Friendly Snacks.
It’s not a tailgate without some great food to eat. However, most tailgate food is not toddler friendly. So, don’t forget to pack some favorite snacks for your child to munch on while hanging out.
Be sure to bring more snacks than you think you will need. This way, you won’t run out, even if the game goes into overtime!
Also, pack a variety of snacks, so you will be prepared even on those days that your toddler decides to be difficult.
5. Bring Some Toys.
Remember that kids don’t have the attention span of adults. They, also, have no interest in watching games on the television. So, to keep your little ones happy, pack plenty of toys.
When they are babies, you will want to bring a whole bag of toys. However, as they get older, you can get away with packing fewer toys.
For many toddlers, a ball or tricycle will work to keep them entertained for hours. Pom poms and foam fingers are also great toys for tailgating with toddlers.
6. Give Your Toddler a Chair of Their Own.
Toddlers love to imitate the people around them. At tailgates, this means they always want to sit in the lawn chairs.
Yet, a full size lawn chair can easily fold up or tip over on a toddler. So, bring a pint size lawn chair just for them. Your toddler will love having their own chair, and you will love not having to fight them for the adult sized ones.
Amazon carries child size lawn chairs too.
Tailgating with toddlers and babies is different than your pre-parenting days of tailgating, but it’s not impossible. You just need to do some advance planning and pack a few extra things specifically for your child.
These tips will help you and your kids enjoy a day of tailgating. They will also help you to raise your kids to love football and tailgating as much as you do!
For more tailgating tips, see my packing tips for tailgating success and the ultimate tailgate packing list.
For tips on college football with kids, read the perfect age to attend your first game, surviving football games with kids, and how to maximize your college football experience.
And check out my tips for planning the best sports road trip with your family.
P.S. Hate packing for tailgates? Always forgetting something important? My FREE tailgate packing list can help make it easier! Grab yours in the box below today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive our weekly email newsletter full of trip tips and inspiration for your family vacations and sports trips!
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