For Tony’s 30th birthday I wanted to do something exciting, something we would remember. I knew how much he loved the Toronto Maple Leaf’s and they happened to be playing the Ottawa Senators that weekend, close to his campus. It was just a matter of figuring out how we could bring our baby to the game, and if that was even an option.
The online forums of other parents asking “should I bring my child to a hockey game?” we’re pretty much filled with the same advice. Some said they brought their 2-month-old and had no problems, other fans complained about previous experiences with crying children. But for the most part, the advice was positive and we decided to go for it.
Preparing for the Game:
My life revolves around planning everything, and a hockey game is no exception. There are different policies for every stadium, so make sure you look into what you can bring (liquids and snacks) and what you cant. Some stadiums restrict the amount of bags you have, the size and even the type of carrier you bring.
We were at the Candian Tire Centre in Ottawa, and we had no problems. Your bag does get searched going into the stadium, and it’s always best to have a clear bag. Security was very helpful and even let me bring in a water bottle to refill our bottles with.
Get Aisle Seats
Planning where your sitting is a good idea, and finding seats that are closest to the exits. Luckily our tickets were directly on the aisle and I could get up and stretch easily. Which I did many times because it was uncomfortable wearing a baby in a tiny arena seat. Plus if you need to get up and feed, change or do anything you want to be avoiding disrupting people. Especially the die-hard fans like my husband.
Bring a Baby Carrier
The best advice I can give is to bring a baby carrier, we used our Wildbird ring sling because it was easy to take her in and out. For the first period, she was so interested in what was happening so we had her on our laps. But since the hockey game was on during her normal bedtime, by the second period she was sleeping.
Naps and Snacks
The two most important things for babies, eating and napping. There is no amount of planning that can prepare for your child’s mood that day. Luckily our daughter does really well in crowds and can sleep through anything.
At the time I wasn’t breastfeeding anymore and she was starting to eat solid foods. But it still meant I packed two bottles, based on what her normal schedule is like at home and an extra one just in case something happened.
We bought a few snacks at the concession stand, but they don’t have many healthy choices for food. We were allowed to bring in our own baby snacks, luckily I brought a few carrots, goldfish and a squeezebox. Simple things that weren’t going to make a mess.
Bringing a toy catered to your child’s age and interest is a good idea. Preferably nothing loud or too big, but something that will keep them distracted. We had a teether ring and I brought my phone that had downloaded the Wiggles on. But Hockey games are so loud and have so many distracting things happening we didn’t need much.
You never know when you might need a change of clothes for your child. Spit ups, accidents, things that spill on them, the list is endless when it comes to keeping clean.
Another thing I did and recommend doing for smaller children is putting them in their pajamas. Hockey games tend to start later and usually around children’s bedtimes. Plus we were exhausted by the time we got back to our hotel and she was asleep. It was so much easier to just change her diaper and go to bed, and she was probably comfier this way.
Earmuffs for Children
The online forums had the same advice from parents who brought their children to games. They all recommended bringing earmuffs for small children, especially newborns. Our 6-month-old was very good about keeping them on which I wasn’t expecting. However, I did read a few comments saying they didn’t need the earmuffs. In my experience, it was so loud from the speakers and the crowd I was very happy we brought ours. Especially young children who have sensitivities and hear higher frequencies compared to adults. So protecting their hearing by wearing earmuffs is very important.
We booked a stay at the Westin in Ottawa, it’s conveniently located between Parliament and Byward Market. The hotel overlooks the Rideau Canal, has passageways into the Rideau Centre Mall and the Shaw Centre Convention Hub. We wanted to stay somewhere central and within walkable distance from things like the Parliament building, Markets and Museums (which was a little farther to walk).
We had a wonderful experience checking in to our hotel, it was fast and easy. My recommendation would be to sign up for Marriott Bonvoy for free Wi-Fi, mobile check-in and so much more.
I wanted a hotel room that overlooked Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal and I easily upgraded our hotel room for only a little bit more. But expect to pay at least $300 per room, it is very expensive but the hotel rooms are clean and spacious. One of my favorite parts of the hotel was the swimming pool, hot tub, and sauna overlooking the city. The gym was exceptional and had everything from squat racks, free weights, and even the latest Peloton Bikes.1