13 Tips for Bowling with Toddlers
My kids LOVE to bowl! It’s a cheap and easy activity for kids. It’s great for rainy days, too hot summer days or during spring and summer breaks when the Zoo is a zoo filled with crowds. We’ve even been to a bowling birthday party; which was really fun!
And during the summer, Kids can bowl for FREE! Read all about it HERE. They'll get 2 free games per day if you sign them up with the Kids Bowl FREE Summer Bowling Program. This is a nationwide program all across the USA and Canada, so share this with all of your friends everywhere!
We started taking my son when he was 2 years old, but there are a few things that I wished I would have known first. Check them out below so you can save yourself from finding out the hard way.
(1) Put the bumpers up! This will avoid gutter balls every. single. time. and ensure they actually knock some pins down.
(2) Use the ball ramp. If you can't find one, ask the clerk. Help your kiddo put the ball on top, line it up and give it a little push. Also, be careful they don't drop the ball on their foot when they want to carry the ball by themselves.
(3) Do NOT let them run after the ball...show them the line where the slippery floor starts and tell them the manager said they can't walk on it. Also, make sure they know the ball will come back to them in the ball return. This might help prevent them from running after it...
(4) Try to avoid the arcade games until the very end or else you'll never make it to the bowline lane.
FIND THE RIGHT BALL:
(5) Bowling balls come in different weights and sizes. Finding the smallest size will make it easier for your littles to bowl with it. The smallest weight is usually a 6 lb ball. They’re usually coded by color so be sure to ask the clerk which one is the smallest weight.
(6) Bring a few bucks for shoe rental, $4 at Kearny Mesa Bowl. And yes they do have shoes sizes for toddlers. If I recall, I think we were able to rent a shoe size 4/5 Toddler last year.
(7) Make sure to bring socks! in case you don’t normally bring them for your kids. This is SoCal after all and flip flops or crocs are pretty much standard footwear for kids. But if you forget, some bowling alleys have socks for purchase, $3 at Kearny Mesa Bowl (not sure about toddler sizes though).
(8) If you plan to bowl a lot, you might consider buying your kids their own bowling shoes. If you figure shoe rentals cost $4/day, you’d have to bowl 8 times to pay for them and make it worthwhile.
I was only able to find toddler bowling shoe online starting at 8/9 Toddler size, HERE for approx. $27. If you need smaller sizes, you could check out a local sporting goods store or it might be best to rent the smaller sizes. If I recall from last year, I think we were able to rent size 4/5 Toddler shoes from the bowling alley.
I did find THESE adorable green skull boys bowling shoes with sizes starting at 8 Toddler, approx. $40. They have matching ones in men's sizes too, ahem, Dads... There are cute pink & black ones but they only have women's sizes left.
IF YOU’RE BRINGING A BABY SISTER OR BROTHER ALONG:
(9) Bring your baby carrier if you're by yourself. This is a must. You'll be moving around a lot, bending over putting cute little bowling shoes on, helping to carry a 6 lb bowling ball, setting up the ball ramp, etc., but you can do it supermom! I've done this and it does take a fair amount of balancing, but it's totally doable. OR, you could...
BRING THE STROLLER: (10) If you bring a stroller, look for a bowling lane that’s next to or close enough to the wheelchair accessible ramp. It’s usually on an end lane. Otherwise you’ll have to jump a step or two down with the stroller. Keep in mind that your back will be turned to the stroller a fair amount while you help big brother or sister set up their ball ramp at the bowling lane. SO, you may want to...
USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM:
(11) Bring a friend if you can. Since you’lll be directly assisting big brother, your back will be to your other kids or the stroller. Use the buddy system to watch each other’s kids while one parent helps the big kid who’s bowling. Other kids will need supervision at the ball return that they'll want to play with; you don’t want pinched fingers from kids grabbing their bowling ball as it pops up in the return. Plus there may be lots of strangers and you’ll want a friend to keep an eye on the kids. ;)
AVOID THE EVIL STAREDOWN:
(12) Look for an end lane or one that’s a little further away from a group of serious bowlers. You don’t want the evil stare down if your toddler is distracting a bowling league. And by your toddler, I mean mine.
BYO FOOD & DRINKS:
(13) I know this is the cardinal rule of taking toddlers anywhere, but figured I’d mention it. Of course there’s usually food available at the bowling alleys, but if you have more than 1 kid, you don’t want to be running back and forth to the food counter while 1 or both kids are trying to bowl. See pinched fingers note above or use the buddy system.