As a lifelong Cubs fan, bringing my twin daughters to a game at Wrigley has been a dream of mine since they were in the womb. After several memorable trips to Cubs games over the years with my girls, Mia and Dani, who are now almost 4 ½, I’ve learned enough to know the prep-work, precautions, and expectations of bringing children to the Friendly Confines. Take heart, die-hard Cubs fans that have recently become new mothers – or are in pursuit to – you can take your children to Wrigley and continue to experience the game that you love with the team we hate to love, just with some additional prep work and awareness. Below I’ve detailed my experiences with my girls at 8 months, 20 months, and 4 years with hope that this helps other mothers, aunts, dads, or other charitable Cubs fans that agree to hit up Wrigley with the under 4 age group.
As soon as my girls were born in November of 2007, my husband and I began to plan our first trip to Wrigley the following season. It was an experience we couldn’t wait to share with them. We decided on July when the girls were around 8 months old. The experience was everything we hoped it would be, with memorable moments and some important lessons:
Tips for bringing 6 to 12 month-olds to a game:
- If you can, go to a weekday game, it’s very pleasant with smaller crowds and a calmer atmosphere. Avoid a major series like Cubs-Cardinals or Cubs-Sox game with your kids. Remember how you behaved at these big rival games before you had kids?
- Do not sit in the “family section”. Yes I said this. The family section at Wrigley is on the third base side near the corner of left field. The entire section is in the direct sun and you’re forced to continuously lather your kids in sun block throughout the game. Then there’s the no-alcohol policy. And while in theory this may seem like the ideal policy for a young family, it’s also very confining for parents who are used to enjoying Wrigley as solo adults. You can enjoy an adult beverage with young children, just all within reason. Furthermore, while you abstain from one of the highlights of summer ballgames, the person literally sitting in the row across from you can drink. And they do. My husband made a comment every inning about how he wished he could just have one cold beer. You are better off taking a chance with tickets in the Terrace Reserved section where you are completely covered from the sun (and possible rain), and if the kids are behaving, Mommy and Daddy can partake in a cold beer.
- Don’t bring a stroller, especially to Wrigley. Don’t be that mom trying to maneuver a stroller through thousands of people at Wrigley, half of them who are intoxicated. We brought Baby Bjorns and carried the girls around that way. (PICTURED) The Bjorns were ideal for when the girls napped in the seats.
- Consider arriving a little late, like the 2nd inning, and leaving before the 7th inning stretch. This way you avoid the crazy traffic (and crazy people) typically heading in and out of the ballpark.
- Don’t expect to stay the whole game. If you get 5 solid innings in, consider it a win. Our girls barely lasted for six innings.
- Bring bottles, it gets you through about one solid, non-interrupted inning.
- If at all possible, try holding off changing diapers. I realize there are times when this is just not possible. But if you have an option of not changing them… then don’t. The bathrooms are hot, crowded and usually not very clean. We changed the girls’ diapers in the back of the car right before we walked in, and then immediately when we got back to the car. Nice and easy.
- Take lots of pictures. This is your first Cubs game as a family, people get it. Be sure to get a good one with the field behind all of you. If the drunk bachelor party who’s blocking your view of the play at first can get away with taking pictures, your adorable family should have no problem stealing a few priceless shots.
Confident with our success in the first Cubs experience with the girls, I immediately started thinking about our next game. Our second trip to Wrigley was also in July, the following summer, when the girls were around 20 months. While this game was fun, it wasn’t nearly as successful as the first one. (As displayed by my girls’ faces in the photo). Our biggest challenge was getting the girls to sit still.
Tips for bringing 15 to 24 month-olds to a game
- Go with friends if you can. Preferably ones that don’t have kids of their own. We went with another couple friend of ours (sans kids) and that helped a ton. While the guys went to buy beer, I had another set of hands to hold one of the girls. My girlfriend and I also left the seats quite a few times to walk around with my girls. She could also go with me to the bathroom for a double diaper change, since we had no choice but to change diapers during this game.
- Don’t plan on staying all 9 innings. If you can get 5 – 6 innings in with 20 month olds, consider it a success! We left right before the 7th inning stretch.
- We sat in Terrace Reserved section which was perfect. It was another hot, sunny day and we were completely shaded and comfortable, with the option to partake in a few cold beers.
- Keep them busy. Bring lots of snacks, and plenty for them to drink. I brought cheerios, goldfish, water, cold milk, you name it. And that still only bought me about two innings.
- Don’t expect your kids to walk away understanding the game of baseball. No matter how much you point out and explain to your kids, it is still too hard for them to see the game or understand it. Believe me, I tried. They were more interested in staring at the people behind us or holding their ears when people cheered because it was too loud. The most we got out of them was a “Go Cubbies” when we told them a Cubs player was up to bat. But at least we were building the foundation for their future love of baseball.
We clocked in additional games the summer of 2010 with the girls, and they were all enjoyable as we got smarter and knew what to expect. Our girls were actually starting to watch the games and cheer with the crowd. And then came my favorite family Cubs game. It was this past August of 2011 when the girls were almost 4 years old. What a joy it is to bring 4 years olds to a baseball game. And yes, this includes 4 year old girls too.
Tips for bringing 4 year-olds to a game:
- Talk to them in the car (or walking) on the way to the game. At this age, they are old enough to understand many elements of baseball. We talked about how we cheer when the Cubs are up to bat and get a hit, what team the Cubs are playing, how we sing in the seventh inning, etc.
- And of course, continue to talk to them throughout the game as well. Expect a lot of questions. The two questions we heard the most were, “Are we winning?” and “Why is everyone cheering so loud?”
- You should be able to get 7+ innings in with a 4 year old. And if you can, head to the Wrigley area a little early. We parked and walked around the neighborhood, bought cute t-shirts for our girls and got into the park before the game started.
- It’s still important to bring lots of snacks and to keep them busy…after all, they are still only 4. And hold out as long as you can for the special treat. In the top of the fifth inning we all went to pick out an ice cream and they loved that. We also brought little notebooks with some crayons, and a few small books, to keep them busy.
- Roll with the punches (as best you can). Our family was having a great time and all of the sudden our one daughter fell completely asleep in the bottom of the 6th inning. So I let her sleep on me for an inning and gently woke her up so she could sing the 7th inning stretch with us. Yes both our girls know the entire song.
- Still plan to leave a little early, there’s no reason to push it. We left at the beginning of the 8th inning to avoid the crowd at the end of the game, and enjoyed a nice walk back to our car.
So rest assured, taking an infant or toddler to a Cubs game can be done, and it can be a fun and memorable experience. Just go prepared with little expectations. Check the schedule in February for the perfect game for your family for the upcoming season. It helps get you through the Chicago winter and provides the kids something to look forward to. The Wrigley experience is a unique one that we will continue to enjoy with our girls every season. Knowing that my girls are growing up going to Cubs games in one of the oldest and most celebrated ballparks in baseball, brings me enough joy that I can try to overlook the Cubs 102-year World Series drought, at least until next season.