By AIME BLANCHETTE
Minneapolis Star Tribune
As much as new mother Jenni Moser loves going to the movies, she couldn't risk it.
The thought of the glares she would get from other moviegoers should 5-month-old Hunter start crying was enough to keep her firmly planted on her couch with a Redbox rental instead.
"I would feel so bad if he would start acting fussy," Moser said. "Nobody wants to be that mom with the crying baby."
But thanks to screenings specifically for parents and their babies, Moser can enjoy going to the movies again. In partnership with baby website TheBump.com, AMC Theatres launched Bring Your Baby Matinees. On the first Tuesday of every month parents can check out a new flick with their children in tow -- and without having to worry about getting a baby sitter or disturbing other moviegoers.
Crying is expected, breastfeeding between handfuls of popcorn is normal and the lights are kept on to make it easier to see the diaper bag.
"We enjoy movies and were happy to learn we could bring our son without making a scene. Turns out he just slept the whole time anyway," said Zach Launderville of Buffalo, Minn., who brought his 3-week-old son, Zane, along to see "The Amazing Spider-Man." "As well as it went, we could probably bring him to a regular movie."
"Special screenings for parents and kids is a great idea," said Bill Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. "They allow parents, particularly those who stay home, the chance to get out and socialize with other parents."
To make the environment baby-friendly, AMC lowers the volume, brightens the lights and provides ample parking spots for bulky strollers.
When the previews started at the most recent Bring Your Baby Matinee in Maple Grove, Minn., 4-month-old Juniper became startled and let out a cry. Mother Kate Sinakhone set aside her popcorn and left the theater to ask a staff member if the volume could be lowered even more.
"They've been great at accommodating our requests," said Sinakhone, who caught a movie with three of her friends and their babies. "Last time we actually asked them to turn the volume up."
The three friends were able to beat the heat and watch a movie together, something they'd been unable to do since their babies were born. At some point, each of the babies became a little restless, but nothing that a little bouncing, a quick feeding or a diaper change in the aisle couldn't fix.
"It's something for us to do that's different," Moser said. "You can only go to the park and the mall so many times."