Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Going to the movies with an infant seems like a terrible idea, but Star Wars is in theaters so...

Background


To start with, we're lucky in that Alamo Drafthouse has 'Baby Day' on Tuesdays (before 2:30 pm near us). What that means is:
  • Lights in the theater are brighter
  • Sound is turned down a bit
  • Infants get in free
  • You don't get kicked out if your baby cries
  • If possible, you get free seats near you for the car seat, diaper bag, etc.
We decided we would see Star Wars. Given that it's Star Wars, the fifth bullet there no longer applied as it sold out immediately. I was still a bit stunned by that as it was a Tuesday at 12:30 PM, it was a baby showing so there were guaranteed to be crying kids, and it appeared to have sold out sometime on Tuesday the week before (I ordered tickets that morning and there were <10 left when I ordered). Thus, we'd have no extra seat.

Preparation

 

We tried to get everything ready so this would go as smoothly as possible.

Our first concern was that the noise would bother him. There are apparently very limited options for hearing protection for infants. People advise against putting anything like earplugs in, I couldn't find any of those ear covers that you use for swimming that would fit him well, and the only over-ear protection I could find wouldn't ship fast enough and isn't sold locally (Baby Banz EMBB Hearing Protection, 0-2 Years). Thus, we improvised and came up with the solution seen in the picture at the beginning that consists of putting balled up socks over his ear and covering them with a thick hat so they stay in place. It was only semi-effective but it looked pretty awesome, so we went with it.

We made sure to feed him until he was full, burp him, and change him before we went, but also prepared a backup bottle because as I've noted in other posts, he eats much more than he's supposed to. We also brought extra diapers and a blanket of course.

In The Theater 

 

We were disappointed to find out that there was no room for him as noted above since the movie is quite popular, so we would have to hold him throughout the movie. Given how much he eats, that gets tiring. About 30 minutes in, he realized he hadn't eaten in almost an hour which was completely unacceptable, so he decided to let everyone know that he was hungry. Fortunately, we'd prepared the backup bottle so we were able to occupy him with that. Unfortunately, he eats way too much so it wasn't enough, and he also spit up a good bit of it (note that cleaning spit up from an awkward angle in a dark theater is great fun). Around this time my wife lost her 3-d glasses.

After digging through the diaper bag, we found that we still had one of those pre-made/disposable bottles of formula in a brand that he likes (he seems to dislike Enfamil), so we were able to occupy him again with that. Unfortunately, as noted several times, he eats way too much so this still wasn't enough. We were stuck, so we resorted to the pacifier.

I held him and rocked him with the pacifier in his mouth and he was able to fall asleep. A few minutes after noting that he was asleep, something loud happened in the movie and he again let everyone know that he was not sleeping. His mother was able to get him back to sleep, so we exchanged him.

We found a position where I could cover his ears while she held him, and this worked out well for the rest of the movie. He was completely quiet for the last hour or so (note that extremely dark theater + quiet baby = constantly wondering if your baby died).

Conclusion

 

This worked out pretty well, the baby had little negative impact on the experience, it was fun to try to manage everything, and I'd give the experience a 9/10. The only things I'd change about it are that I'd try to book a time when the theater wasn't packed (Alamo lets you know this) and would bring more food for him. We never had to leave the theater to calm him. Overall summary was:
  • 2 feedings required
  • 1 large spitup
  • 2 bouts of loud crying
  • 1 diaper full of horrid smelling shit (sorry guy sitting next to us)
  • >= 3 audible grunt-farts + kicks
He still seems undecided on how this compares to the original trilogy, but he at no point wished for more scenes with Hayden Christensen so it seems like it was a positive experience for him. He did note that there were far too few scenes featuring Tigger, so be warned.
Baby pondering where the franchise will go next

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