How to visit a museum with a toddler

November 7

We love visiting museums. Every country we have travelled to, there has been at least one museum visit on the itinerary. And we keep the tradition alive at home! If there is a new exhibit which interests us, history or science museum; you name it and we have either been there or there is a rainy day marked on my calendar specifically for it.

One would think that museum visits become difficult with a toddler in tow. Yes, it comes with some challenges and it is a lot for them to take in a short amount of time but trust me, they enjoy it as much as we do. Agree you would not get to stand in front of an exhibit and read the details from beginning to end, but you see things from their perspective and explain them new things. In my opinion, it is a rewarding experience for both the parties.

And with some smart ‘strategies’, you can spend as much time as you want and come out of a museum ‘alive’! Here are some of my pointers…

Choose the right museum for right age

If your child is of the age when they are comfortable sleeping/sitting in a stroller, choose a museum which has exhibits that are not meant to be touched by tiny hands. For example, an art museum. For kids that like to run around to let out that never ending energy, go to a museum which is interactive in some areas or there is lots to see ‘behind’ the glasses. We took our then 19 month toddler to Museum of Flight over summers, and he had a great time pointing to things, being fascinated by planes, putting headphones on and listening to an exhibit.

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Be mindful of your kid’s temperament

You know your child best. If your kid is someone who likes familiar objects more and is not an explorer; maybe start with a ‘smallish’ museum. Let them take in few things at a time. We visited MOHAI when our baby was just an year old and not that interested in touching things. He was happy to be in stroller and baby carrier taking everything in. He enjoyed sitting in my lap and playing with legos more than the actual museum.

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Time it properly

If it is in your control, time the museum tour according to your child’s eating and napping schedule. We used the morning chunk of time to see all the exhibits in the main building of Museum of Flight. Took a lunch break in cafe (which FYI doesn’t even has a decent coffee bar and food is below par. I suggest you pack your own snacks), tried to make baby nap (which didn’t happen) and then we did the other building which has the space gallery. So, we spaced it out for our tiny human to take it all in at his own pace.

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Learn to go with the flow

If it doesn’t work out as expected, be prepared to ‘abort the mission’. If there is no way you can keep your kid inside, take them out for some fresh air, try again! Still if they would rather be out, so be it. Try going in the gift shop, come back to museum again. At around 5 in the evening and without an afternoon nap, when our kid was getting ready to go home, we took a second break for some snacks and milk. And, we let him run free within safe limits. Just 10 minutes of such activity, and we were back looking inside the airplanes!

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Remember to have a good time

Whether you are able to see an exhibit you were so excited about, or you spent all your time and energy running after your toddler, remember you are together as a family, enjoying each other’s company and having a few laughs in between. Let that be your guide and just have a good time!

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I would love to hear which is your favorite museum and why? I need to add to my list! 🙂

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