While everyone loves Netflix and DIY creative popcorn recipes, it’s nice to get out to the movies every now and then. But that might mean hiring a babysitter for your little one — unless he or she is ready to head to the theater with you themselves. We spoke with one expert on how to know if your child is ready for a big-screen outing. Scroll on to read her tips before you load up on popcorn.


1. There’s no “right” age. “It’s more when your child seems ready,” says Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Ichahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, and co-founder of the Baby Bundle app. “Movies are about two hours,” she continues, and your child “needs to be able to sit still and focus, and be able to whisper without yelling out and disturb others around them.”

2. Do a test run. Tractenberg suggests renting or watching a movie at home with your child to see if it’s something they’re into, and observing “how long they remain engaged with the movie.” She tells us, “If your child is scared of loud noises or doesn’t like the dark, you might need to hold off longer.”


3. Have a routine. “Always make sure they use the bathroom prior to entering the theater,” she advises. She also suggests dressing the child in layers just as you would yourself — movie theaters are notoriously cold. “Bring your own snacks — they’re healthier — and if a child naps, go after naptime so that he or she is less cranky.” Try to always grab an aisle seat so you and your little one can make a swift exit if need be.


4. Be understanding. “If your child wants to leave early, that’s fine,” she says. “Don’t try to force them to stay or make them feel badly about leaving.” Build on each experience and try again when you feel that your child is ready.

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