Stadium Smarts! 7 Between-Inning Game Ideas to Keep Toddlers Happy
There’s nothing quite like watching a live baseball game on a summer day—the smell of fresh green grass, the excitement of home runs, the nail-biting tension of close calls as players slide onto base just in the nick of time. But taking a toddler to a baseball game? Well, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” can turn into “Take Me Back Home” faster than you can say Cracker Jacks.
Whether you’ve got box seats for a major league game or you’re just hanging out on the bleachers at the local field, we’ve got plenty of between-inning game ideas to keep the ballpark boredom at bay long past the seventh-inning stretch.
1. Play a Little Ball Before Watching It
The way most children develop a love of baseball is by experiencing the ball field for themselves. In the days or weeks leading up to your game-day outing, head to a local little-league field and walk with your little one around the bases, having them stand in the places of each player as you explain who does what during the game. And of course, don’t forget to bring a bat and a ball so they can practice their swing!
2. Conduct a Baseball Scavenger Hunt
We love this idea from the Teach Mama blog! Print off a scorecard listing things you might see at the game, and have your child check off items as they spy them—from a homemade sign to a popcorn vendor, a walked batter, or a crazy/funny fan. This activity develops reading skills and cultivates a better attention span—but it’s also just plain fun!
3. Play a Game of Number Spotting
Numbers are everywhere at the ballpark, so make them, ahem, count. Ask your child to look for the number of the player at bat or on second base (a great way to learn double-digit numbers and the field positions), count the number of players that come up to bat in a single inning, or compare prices of food at the concession stand.
Before heading out to the field, try choosing a specific number (like 8 or 14), and see how many times you both can spot that number around the park!
4. Pitching Speeds: Faster or Slower?
Nine innings can last a lot longer than young attention spans—so when your child starts getting wiggly, show them how the scoreboard tracks pitching speeds. You can even turn speed-watching it into a game: Before each pitch, ask your child to guess whether the next ball will be thrown faster or slower than the previous pitch.
Keep score of their correct guesses on the program, and make up a silly handshake as a reward for when they guess 10 pitches correctly.
5. Between Innings, Cruise the Stadium
Kids love doing the wave with the crowd, but you don’t need to wait for stadium-wide activities to move around. It’s hard for kids (and many grown-ups) to sit on hard seats or bleachers for too long, so take your child on a tour of the stadium to see the game from different angles. Some stadiums at pro games (like the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park or the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park) even have play areas for kids.
6. Turn a Snack Break into a Learning Break
At some point, your child inevitably will want a snack. But those concession lines can be almost as long as the game itself! While you’re waiting, keep your child entertained by making the most of the signs, advertisements, and jersey names around you by playing an alphabet game.
Start with the letter A, and have your child find and point to a sign, shirt, or game program that contains the letter. Too easy? Challenge your child by providing the sound of the letter, not the letter itself. (Good luck with Q!)
7. Collect Some Stats
Baseball cards came onto the scene in the late 1800s, and they still fascinate kids today. Before you take your child to see a major leagues game, buy a pack of baseball cards featuring players from the teams that will be playing.
The cards are a great way to explain common baseball statistics and get your little batter familiar with the players. Plus, you never know: Your child might even swap his Pokémon™ and Yu-Gi-Oh!™ cards for those featuring Clayton Kershaw and David Price.