Topic: How to survive Denver Comic Con with children in tow.
This is my fourth time at Denver Comic Con, and each year has been a different experience for me. This year it was as a full-time parent. That’s not to say I haven’t gone previous years as parent, heck three of the four years have been with at least one child. This year, my oldest son was two years old his first convention was at one month old, because my wife and I are awesome parents. Every year has been a different trial with bringing children and in these early years it’s a different experience. It can be difficult with young kids to see everything you want. Essentially, your con experience is never the same again. It’s better.
With kids under one year old, you have a pretty easy lifesaver – the baby bjorn, or any tiny human carrier. Strap one of these on, plop your bundle of joy in the front, face them forward if you can, and you’re on your way. Now with kids in this age you’re going to have to stop a little more than you want to. Feedings can eat up some time, if you’re lucky, though, you can actually feed and walk at the same time. Granted, if your little one is a little younger than most this isn’t going to be an option. Just understand that your baby comes first, when they’re hungry they’re hungry and you’ll have to take a break.
Around the six-month mark you have to look out for “stranger danger syndrome”. With the big crowds, and especially if you’re cosplaying, you’re going to get people up close and personal and this can be a lot for kids that age. Prepare for a little unhappiness from your little one. Also, diapers; no one wants to smell like…well you know. Young kids need changing, so don’t just bring a big stink around with you everywhere you go. That’s unpleasant for everyone involved.
My third year at DCC was my oldest sons’ second convention, and he was only one year old. This was an fun year, DCC fixed everything that wasn’t right the year before and my wife and I could much more easily move around with our son. For a kid this age, you’re probably out of luck on the front pack, it’s hard enough on your legs with a kid half the age, and weight. The big thing here is they’ll be close to walking, or just walking altogether. Your kid’s probably much more inquisitive and want to see everything. This can lead to some fantastic family pictures. We have awesome photos of our son in love with a full size skeksis and being really terrified of an ewok, fantastic.
You’ll probably be doing a lot of moving from the stroller to walking, and it can be tiresome. Now, there are a lot of people at a convention and one year-olds don’t move very quickly, so if you’re going to let you children out of a stroller to walk around it’s just the best thing for everyone to do it out of the way of the main thoroughfare and pull off to the side. Around this age, your kids, or at least mine, have really started to open up and they want to see anything and everything the con really starts to become fun for them, too, at this point.
This year my a family had another addition. So, we had a two year old and an eight month old in tow. Our youngest was pretty easy, a little baby bjorn action lasted us six hours without any issue. Two kids means you better have back up. It’s not a requirement, but it helps a lot. It can be a task to have a small child strapped to your chest while pushing a stroller that holds a slightly larger small child. We lucked out that our oldest was rather content just being pushed around for the day. Most other times this would not be the case.
With a child around two we have a lot of success with pairing up with parents that have kids around the same age. Having someone there on their level is usually a tremendous help. I understand that this may not be an option for most. Always make sure to bring toys and snacks. The better you can help your little one stay happy the better experience you’ll both have. This time around, if your tike wants to walk around it’s much easier going. They’re faster and hopefully they’ll hold your hand with no problems. As most everyone knows, though, you could have full-on meltdowns throughout the day. Dealing with a meltdown at a con is a lot like dealing with an accident on the highway, move it off the main road and take care of things as best as you can.
Above anything else to be prepared for a convention with young children is patience. Things are not going to go perfectly, kids have problems and they will let you know all about them. The crowds can and will be hectic and with a crying toddler or infant it can make things exponentially more stressful. Oh, and panels, probably not going to work that well if you have very young kids like us. It’s common courtesy to let the panel hosts talk without interruptions, a thing we learned the hard way. You just can’t sit in a panel trying to get you children to calm down. Get up go outside and get things handled, if you’re lucky you can go back in. Don’t expect it, though.
Here are some essentials to keep in mind.
- Baby carrier is a lifesaver with very young children
- Keep moving, children have shorter attention spans than millennials if stay put to long things can go bad
- Be knowledgeable of your surroundings, head on swivel people
- You’re kid can break at any moment, be courteous to everyone around you
- You might have to forget about panels
- Bring distractions, they’ll help keep yours and their sanity
- Don’t be afraid to use that stroller as a battering ram, people will move.
For any new or expecting parents I hope this will be helpful guide to your next convention. Like anything you do with you children it’s going to be really tough at some points but those special moments, even if they are few and far between, make it all worth it. I can’t wait until next year’s adventure.
Images were taken by Scott McCauliffe and Keriann McNamera of Hush Comics. Please ask permission before reposting.