We ventured to Gainesville for the Georgia Southern game for Lily’s first visit to the Swamp at 8 months old. Although the game was far from ideal when it comes to football, it was an ideal scenario for baby’s first Gator game:
1. Cool weather
2. Not crowded
3. Not as loud
In fact, this game is what gave me the brainstorm for this blog. The lack of info on taking kids to Ben Hill Griffin stadium was astounding. I had no idea if she needed a ticket, what baby-friendly conveniences were available to me, etc. Thus, the source for all things Gator + Baby in one place was born!
- Pick a non-SEC game in November for two reasons: it’s not as hot, and not as crowded. Although much of Gator Nation was sorely missing from the stands due to a dismal year, it made it easier for us to navigate the upper stands in the corner of the south endzone.
- Once the game time is announced, check the weather to determine what type of clothing baby should wear. We’ve worn both heavier fall clothing as well as tank tops at games in November. Florida weather each November can be unpredictable.
- Plan on frequent breaks from the stands with your baby, whether it’s a stroll along the concourse to give them a break from the Florida sun, or if you need to stretch your legs.
- Having an additional set of hands, perhaps a grandparent, uncle/sister, friend etc. can be helpful and that person can also take your photo!
- Refer to this page for more information about Gameday/Facility information.
- New for 2017: Nursing suite added to the stadium including a play area, milk storage and televisions so you don’t miss the game!
- Visit the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium seating chart to determine your seats so you can ahead of time.
- We downsized our diaper bag for the game, bringing just a few needed items such as diapers, wipes, pacifiers, and the items below.
- Update: remember, the clear bag policy implemented in 2016 applies to baby’s bags as well!
- We brought her changing pad from her diaper bag as well. This definitely came in handy as we were nowhere near the baby changing stations. I took her out to the concourse and laid her down on the pad on the pavement to do a quick check.
On this note, until I had a child, I never realized the inconvenience of not having a changing station in a bathroom! There are seriously just a handful of stations in the stadium. With the amount of babies I have seen at the stadium, this has to change. Isn’t there some parent Bull Gator who can donate the $200 per station?
- Supplies to bring:
- Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones, as some fans can get quite rowdy!
- Sunscreen – even though it’s late November, the UV rays are still there.
- A hat – a wide-brimmed hat will help with both preventing baby from burning and keeping the sun out of his/her eyes.
- Baby sunglasses.
- Pacifier clip: Cheering for the Gators will make them drop their binky, so be prepared with a pacifier clip.
- Grab one of those free Gator fans they hand out, or bring a small battery-powered one.
- Snacks/food/bottles – Easy to carry snacks, fruit pouches, and sippy cups will help keep baby happy in the stands.
- A pom pom or other small item to keep your baby entertained.
- Check the weather – do you need to bring a small sweatshirt or light sweater?
- An extra Gator outfit in case baby gets dirty
- Your camera! Don’t rely on smart phones alone to capture this unforgettable moment.
- Optional: a baby sling/carrier like Britax to help you be hands-free while navigating the stadium.
- Parking in designated lots is for boosters only. There are plenty of options on campus or surrounding areas.
- One of the easiest ways to reach the campus and not deal with parking is to take the Gator Aider shuttle, which begins service 3 hours before kick-off. But remember you won’t be able to grab a return shuttle until at least the beginning of the fourth quarter.
- Tailgating around campus provides you with a “base” to feed/nurse baby, or change them on the seat in your car. I nursed Lily prior to the game in the privacy of our car, and she made it through the whole game.
- Gator Walk is a pre-game ritual welcoming the players into the stadium. The Gator Walk takes place 2 hours and 25 minutes prior to each home game. Fans can line up along University Avenue and the pathway leading to the North Endzone to cheer on the team.
- There is usually a Fan Fest held outside the O’Connell Center prior to the game with vendors, games, and fun activities for kids.
- Need to buy a Gator outfit for your little one, or just looking for some retail therapy before the game? Options include:
- Inside the stadium: The Gator Locker Room – Official Store of Florida Athletics is open on gamedays and offers a variety of goods.
- The UF Bookstore at the Reitz Union is more than books. The entire second floor is apparel, accessories, and other items.
- Shops along University Avenue
- Gameday vendors along University Avenue
Gator Nation Tailgate at Emerson Alumni Hall
Held each Home Game Saturday three hours before kick-off, these tailgates are a welcoming experience for any family with kids. There are actually two events going on here:
- Outside on the Plaza
- Live DJ and entertainment
- Kid-friendly activities such as a piñata break immediately following Gator Walk
- Performances by the UF Cheerleading squad
- Appearances by Albert and Alberta
- Food for sale
- Admittance to the plaza is free
- Inside Alumni Hall
- #1 reason: Air conditioning!
- Appearances by UF Cheerleaders and Albert & Alberta mascots
- Football from around the country on big screens
- Easy access to food and drinks with chairs, and plenty of carpet space for kids. No need to juggle your young kids and food!
- Clean Bathrooms
- Game day crafts for little Gators
- You must be a member of the UF Alumni Association to enter Emerson Alumni Hall. The fee for non-members is $25 per person. Members must show their card or drivers license. Life members have an express lane and can bring one guest, free of charge.The indoor tailgate closes 30 minutes before kick off.
There are plenty of places to pose your lil’ Gator for some priceless photo opps.
- Albert & Alberta statue outside of Emerson Alumni Hall
- Albert & Alberta mascots make an appearance pre-game at the pep rally inside Emerson Alumni Hall (admission required/free for alumni members)
- Gator statue in front of Heavener Football Complex (Gate 18)
- Gator statue in front of F Club entrance (Between Gates 7 & 8)
- Along the parade route for Gator Walk (see map above for route)
- Heisman Winner statues in front of Skybox seats entrance (West Stands). Tim Tebow seems to be the more popular statue…
- If you can get along the sideline during the game, Albert & Alberta usually walk by for photo opps.
- Family photo with the field in the background. Don’t be shy about asking someone to take your photo!
Check out gatorzone.com for additional information as it relates to gameday policies etc.
Have a tip to share on taking your littles to the Swamp? What was your experience like with your kid’s first visit to The Swamp? Comment below!