Bringing a toddler to a wedding can be a nerve wracking experience for any parent. Will they keep quiet during the ceremony? What if they decide to throw a tantrum?
Recently, I had my first experience taking my toddler to a wedding. I wasn’t sure how it would go, especially since my son is a rather active 1.5 year old. However, with plenty of planning and foresight, he was able to keep quiet and relatively still during the ceremony. And I was able to enjoy it too!
In this post, I’ll share with you some of the things I did to help my toddler through the ceremony, and what you can do to make weddings a positive and enjoyable experience.
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Tips For Taking A Toddler To A Wedding
Well before the ceremony, try talking about it with your toddler. Explain what will be happening, and what he should expect. Prepping your child this way will help prevent any loud outbursts of “what’s that?!” at inopportune times.
Even if your child doesn’t say many words yet, talking to him about the service ahead of time will help him to understand what’s expected of him. I’ve noticed that even though my son says very few words yet, he understands quite a lot of what I say to him.
If possible, try to talk about it multiple times before you head to the wedding. This will help your little one to remember and have time to process and understand what you say.
Be sure to let your little one get his wiggles out beforehand! This was one trick that I think really helped Elijah.
Because my husband was part of the bridal party, we were at the wedding location early. Which worked out perfectly, because it gave Elijah plenty of time to walk around and look for sticks (it was an outside wedding).
I let him move around pretty freely until about five minutes before the ceremony started. The pre-wedding exercise seemed to help him stay calmer and quieter once it was time to sit.
If possible, try to arrive early to weddings to give your child time to roam and get their extra energy out.
Bribery? Maybe. I like to think it more as strategic thinking.
The last thing you need is for your toddler to have a meltdown because they are hungry. Try bringing a few non-messy snacks to keep your child’s hunger at bay.
I let Elijah eat a few pretzels about five minutes before the ceremony. It was the perfect way to transition him from walking around to sitting down. And, it kept him from getting hungry in the middle of the ceremony.
It may be helpful to put any snacks into container that is easy to get into. You definitely don’t want to end up with snacks spilled all over the place! I personally like Munchkin’s Snack Catcher for holding any snacks while we’re out an about. It’s easy for toddlers to get into, without letting snacks spill everywhere.
Bring Quiet Activities
This almost goes without saying. Be sure to bring along a few quiet activities that your child can do during the wedding ceremony.
For the wedding we attended, I brought along a small board book and Elijah’s buckle toy. The book easily fit inside his backpack diaper bag, and the toy snapped easily through the top loop of the backpack. When he got fidgety, the toy kept his little fingers busy and helped distract him his boredom.
Here are some other activities you might bring along:
- Coloring book & crayons
- Small books (here’s some of our favorite board books)
- Buckle toy
- Small busy board
- Small car/doll
Whatever you do, definitely avoid bringing an exhausted child to a wedding. Overtired toddlers are far more prone to meltdowns and tantrums. They will also have a harder time sitting still and keeping quiet.
If the wedding time is during a normal nap time, try having your child take a nap before you leave for the wedding. If your toddler won’t nap earlier, try to at least have them do a quiet activity to rest beforehand.
When you get to the wedding, think strategically about where you sit, if possible. While it may not be your preferred spot, sitting at the end of a row or aisle or towards the back can help you sneak out if need be.
If your child does lose his cool, or needs an emergency bathroom break, it will be easier for you to slip out without having to get past other people. And, if your child absolutely cannot sit still, it may open up the opportunity for you to stand with him in the back.
While I believe in teaching your child to be well behaved in all scenarios, I also think it’s wise to recognize that kids are kids, and sometimes things happen. Sometimes you will need to slip out for a few minutes to calm a child. Thinking ahead and making that possibility as easy to achieve as possible can help make the situation smoother.
What has your experiences been like?
Have you ever taken your toddler to a wedding? What tricks did you use to help them through it? Share with me in the comments below—I’d love to hear from you!