Baby Tailgates | Tips for Bringing Children to Sporting Events | By Lauren Cop

Fall is a wonderful time for changing leaves, everything pumpkin and football – lots and lots of football. You may feel like you can’t bring your kids (especially toddlers and babies) to these events or won’t have fun. But in fact, both you and your children can go to these events and have a wonderful time. As a former high school volleyball and track coach, Clemson fanatic, and general sports enthusiast – my children have been to countless sporting events starting as early as three months old. As with most things with children, some events have gone better than others. However, most of these events have gone smoothly. Here are some of my helpful tips and tricks that have allowed us to be sports fans and make great memories.

Carlisles_at_Football_2014{Picture taken by my MIL Lesa Carlisle}

Pre-Match – As with any athlete the pre-match warm-up is extremely important for having a successful event with young kids. They need to have had several days of a regular schedule and good sleep. What regular schedule right?! Honestly this is mostly about the sleep and nutrition!! If you are traveling – the sleep is the most important. Good nutrition before the match is important too because there is a chance that your children will be too distracted to eat during the event. I can not stress enough… Look up your surroundings!! Where is the best place to park? How far will you have to walk? Are there hills? Is it safe to park here? Will you have able to leave early if necessary? There is nothing worse than going to a sporting even with kids and not being able to leave, commute to the event, or feel safe. Make sure you also include a strategy on when it’s time to call it quits, where to feed the kids, bathrooms, break areas, who can you count on for help etc… Although as in the game it may not come across as at first projected – it is always good to have a game plan! The better you plan your event the better your end result will be.

Equipment – There are definitely must-haves and non-essentials when discussing athletic equipment! For me the MUST haves for my young ones are listed as follows:

  • Sound-negating head phones — Especially for those under one it really helps with a sensory overload not to mention protecting their hearing. Over-stimulation is by far the one factor that will really effect those really little ones!! So make sure they feel comfortable by helping with the sound. Here is my favorite!
  • Wagon/stroller/carrier – This not only keeps them contained but can also be a perfect sleeping location when the kids get overwhelmed. I have found a carrier is best for kids under the age of 1 ! The younger ones tend to need a place for comfort, protection, and sleep – and therefore are best suited with a carrier. A stroller is best for ages  1-3ish. The toddler ones tend to need a place to sit and watch from a distance or take a rest which makes the strollers best for them. If your kids are older than 3-6ish and can walk longer distances go for the wagon. This way they can hop in and out of the wagon as needed. It is also great for towing other items to the event.
  • Diaper bag – packed with diapers, wipes, changing pad, extra clothes for baby, extra shirt for parents, snacks, and drinks. Try not to fill it with too much stuff because you don’t want to over pack and carry extra weight. If you are going to a tailgate keep the snacks at a minimum because surely there will be things there that they like.
  • Lovey – Bring your child’s lovey or some favorite toy for comfort and distraction. I would not bring something that is expensive or not replaceable – but it also needs to be important enough to comfort your child in case they are feeling overwhelmed. Also if you are tailgating or at an outdoor even bubbles is a wonderful distraction and gives everyone a case of the smiles!

The less you have to carry and be responsible for, the better. There will be tons of distractions and others who want to help entertain your baby so please take advantage!

L_D_V_2013{Drew, Viv and Me enjoying Clemson Football, 2013}

Fuel – Hydration is most important – period. Whether it is an outdoor football game in the South or an indoor basketball game in the North it gets very hot during sporting events. There are lots of people close together so temperatures rise quickly. Babies and young children don’t sweat much if at all so it is even more important for them to stay hydrated. Also try to bring foods that will help with hydration. Don’t be surprised if your child doesn’t eat much – there is lots of excitement and distractions going on – so it can be hard for them to want to spend their time eating. Just make sure you have plenty of snacks that you can keep on hand. Children tend to just want to munch when distracted, anyway. Don’t stress too much on the nutrition today – that was what the pregame was for – just make sure they get some fuel to stay happy.

Play Calls – Athletes continuously practice every possible game scenario so they are prepared. It is important to have a game plan before the big event. Also children thrive on predictability – therefore it is important for you to try to keep their normal schedule. Although this may not be practical, try to keep feeding and sleeping as close to on schedule as possible. Keep an eye on when you need to make time outs or even if this means you have to arrive at the event early and/or late this can make the difference between a total meltdown or a win!

{Photo Credit:, Click for Source}

Time-Outs – It is important to find a quiet, safe location for rest and regrouping. Some of our favorite locations are the car, family restroom, the woods or an out of the way hallway. Your child will probably need to have at least one if not more than one break from the excitement – at the very least for a diaper change. Also for older kids you may need a location for a legitimate timeout for poor behavior. If you child is feeling overwhelmed these time outs can make the difference between going home or staying for a successful game. Sometimes kids just need that special one on one time to feel comfortable again in a stressful situation.

Team Mates – Man to man coverage is best. When you are outnumbered by child people you could be fighting a losing battle. Not that you couldn’t be successful because you can, but according to my husband (NOTE: This is a picture of my husband with my girls in the background during one of my games) it is “extremely challenging”. One adult per child really makes things much easier – and the more teammates you have the better! This way you can go to the restroom by yourself, have adult conversation, and even watch some of the game! Don’t forget to communicate and work together with your teammates. Games are rarely won alone!

Fans – They can be your allies or enemies and the tide can turn in a skinny minute. It is important to keep them on your side. Allow them to help in small doses with distractions, communication, or even watching your area while you change a diaper. At the same time, they can change the tide of your game – there can be predators, germs dispensers, or people who are not sensitive to parents’ needs/desires. Keep a watchful eye, encourage those who need it, and run from those who mean you harm! However don’t be afraid to use them as extra team mates. There is a reason why event environment – particularly fans – can really affect the difference between an easily won or lost game.

Game Over – It is important to know when it is time to call it quits. Know your children’s cues of when they have had enough or are about to have a total meltdown. Try to get in some time outs to determine if this is really the end or if you can regroup. Please don’t force your child to stay just for your enjoyment. You all will be much happier if you just quit while you’re ahead and end the game. No matter what, this will not be giving up the game – instead you have lost to a better opponent – your child’s happiness.

The more games you go to – the more chances of success and the easier it will get on your children. Don’t sacrifice your happiness and entertainment for fear of your child’s behavior. If this is something you want as part of your family dynamic, then it is important to participate in those things earlier to acclimate your child to these types of environments. You can be successful – it may be stressful and may take several attempts – but it can be done with minimal obstacles and melt downs!! Enjoy your fall events and of course GO TIGERS!!

© 2015 Lauren Coppotelli Carlisle

Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor of the ciao_laurencop_sig-01Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

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Other Posts by Lauren Cop:

Why are all the photos of the kiddos watermarked? Why should you think about watermarking pictures you take of your children before you post them on your own blog?


  1. Thank you so much for these great tips! We love all things Clemson too! We are taking our girls (3 and 5) to the Wake Forest game this weekend for my daughters 6th birthday! We want her to experience all there is to do. We will be traveling from NC. Any advice on must do events? Where to see the players enter, etc.? Thank you!!


    1. From Lauren Cop:

      Here is a quick list of info! Most of which my wonderful husband found – he is the Clemson guru around here J

      Clemson Band Kickoff Concert – 90 minutes before kickoff, in Amphitheater (EVERY GAME)

      Tiger Walk – The football team enters the stadium via the West End Zone two hours prior to the game. Lots of chanting, cheering, band playing, etc. (EVERY GAME)

      Historic Poinsettia Display – Cooper Library will have a large display of Poinsettias as well as information and displays on the origin and development of the Poinsettia into the iconic Christmas flower. (ON DISPLAY FOR MOST OF NOVEMBER)

      Military Appreciation Week – many events in honor of Military Appreciation Day – Helicopters and military vehicles on display at Bowman Field, Flag exchange at Memorial Park, and GameDay Parade. (THIS GAME ONLY)

      Others – Definitely walk around the other tailgates. Usually people want to see my kids dressed up in their Clemson gear and even offer to let them eat or play corn hole.

      I hope you enjoy the game! Let us know how it went :).


      1. You are amazing!!! Thank you so much for these amazing tips!!! You have certainly added to our experience! My little Tigers will be so excited!!!


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