When I volunteered to write this blog post, I initially thought: who better than me to write this? We are a football family. My husband and I have lived in 4 states in 5 years chasing his dream of being a college football coach. He’s coached at every level and we actually planned our child around football. Season, signing, spring ball, recruiting, camps– all of it. He’s coached at literally every level. (Not kidding- middle school, high, school, D-3, D-2. D-1 FCS and NCAA Division 1 FBS.) I’ve navigated parking and security in many venues and sat in the stands in crowds as small as 50 to as large as 101k.
The thing is, my baby is the most happy-go-lucky thing you ever saw. It’s like she knows she was born to go to football games. I didn’t need most of the advice I’d gotten on this topic. So I’ve crowd-sourced some tips for surviving games with kids from a network of amazing women who know this world inside and out- wives of football coaches. You do what I did and take what you need but leave what you don’t. As moms we all know there’s no such thing as being over prepared. Worst case scenario you’ll out-kick your coverage.
My main personal word of advice is start em young. Marleigh went to her first football game at a little over 2 months old.
But as with all things game day, the preparation started long before then. As a stir crazy mama, we took her out to an outdoor concert in Downtown Waco and a Houston production of the Lion King Broadway show. She went with us to crowded restaurants and even the Escape Room. We have friends whose baby was very sheltered and only slept in a silent room and she screams if you take her into Target. I’m of the personal belief that exposing children to the hustle and bustle of life early helps them to acclimate better. If you didn’t or don’t want to go this route with your little one, baby headphones are a great buy. Shelter their little ears from the lady beside you blasting a noise maker or the vulgar rowdy local drunk that’s on the visitor side for some reason.
2. Eating at the Game
If you’re like me you enjoy a good Bear Dog or Aggie Burger. But if you don’t want to feed that to your child, its a good idea to eat before and come equipped with a bottle or snacks. If you don’t have a diaper bag compatible bottle warmer, a thermos of hot water is an awesome substitute. Some babies will take cold or room temperature milk. Like most parenting tips, its whatever works for your family. For the toddlers and big kids, snacks and sippy cups can be clutch. You’ll definitely want to check the facility’s website for rules on bringing these things in ahead of time.
3. How to transport your baby (and all their stuff)
I learned the hard way after watching a friend take a stroller into a professional football game but being turned away at the gate to McLane. Not all stadiums are created equally. You definitely can’t take strollers in to Baylor games, but check the facility rules prior to any other games you plan to attend because they might differ.
What do you mean I can’t take my stroller in??
Baby wearing is definitely the way to go. I prefer a ring sling because its lightweight and easy to adjust for breastfeeding. Other people swear by the Tula because they can support the weight of a toddler. Find a carrier you love and wear that baby. Be sure to accessorize in school colors because your shirt will be covered.
Since you may not have a stroller basket, less is more when it comes to packing a diaper bag. Be prepared but think minimalism. Its a good idea to test whether your baby will take a cool bottle in the weeks leading up to game day if you want to feel confident leaving the bottle warmer or thermos at home. A changing pad is absolutely necessary!! You will thank me. Some bags come with a pad included. You can also get a diaper clutch with one attached or buy it separate. A muslin blanket is also good for extra padding if (when) you have to lay baby on the ground to change them. Toys and books will keep little ones busy while mama yells at the referees. Check bag restrictions before heading to the game but it might help to call and inquire about exceptions for diaper bags.
4. What to wear
So this is Texas and the only thing more unpredictable than a coin toss is the weather. Dress yourself and your littles in comfy school spirit attire and think layers. The last thing you want is to start out in a hoodie and then burn up when the clouds roll away. Don’t forget that the visitor section is always last to get shade if you’re traveling with your team. Protect little eyes and skin with a hat and light clothing.
Keep a pancho or rain jacket handy- stick it in the diaper bag. Lots of stadiums don’t allow umbrellas. Wrap a sweater around your waist and you’re good to go. When real football weather rolls around bring a blanket, some hand warmers, and a hot chocolate. Pro tip: stick em in your shoes.
5. Make an appearance
We all love our teams and the colors don’t run but at the end of the day your child is the most important thing. If routine is important to you and/or them you can plan to be at the game for a while and then head home. The great thing is that now you can find pretty much any game on ESPN3. For day games you could skip the first half at the hottest part of the day and head to the stadium at half time to cheer your team to victory.