Mom brings baby to Coachella and offers advice for parents who want to do the same

Before we had a kid, my husband and I attended a lot of metal concerts together. The strangest thing we ever saw wasn’t the flames, the fake blood, or helicopters of long sweaty hair twirling around on stage. It was the 4-year-old child on a mom’s shoulders at a Cannibal Corpse show. To be fair, he was wearing noise-cancelling headphones. The mom told us that this was her son’s fifth time at a Cannibal Corpse show and he had been to many other death metal band’s shows in his short 4 years of life. “You gotta start them young!” she said as her kid did the devil horn hands and screamed as loud as the lead singer on stage before he started headbanging along.  

While the music was obviously way more tame than death metal, this mom is definitely “starting them young” by taking her 14-month-old daughter to Coachella for the weekend and documenting it. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Maddie Bannister, who formerly worked at a company related to the production of festivals like Coachella, shared about her experience with taking her daughter to the festival. And this wasn’t her daughter’s first concert experience.

“My husband and I met during the pandemic. We had a lot of music love in common, and I worked in that industry for a long time. As soon as we could start going back to festivals and concerts and things, we did,” she told PEOPLE.

Bannister claims that her daughter Hani has been to shows already, including Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Tool, and Phish, and that the reason she brought Hani to Coachella was because of her daughter’s love of music herself. 

“We’ve been taking Hani to shows since she was a couple of months old. She’s always loved it,” she shares, noting the toddler had been to both “one-off shows” and festivals such as Power Trip.

“She’s definitely had her fair share of concert days,” Bannister told PEOPLE.

So how do you maneuver a giant music festival like Coachella with an infant? There was “a lot of trial and error” according to Bannister.

She told PEOPLE, “We didn’t really know what to expect, day one. Luckily, like I said, because of my job I’m able to have decent parking and we were able to have golf carts to drive us and pick us up when we really needed it.” 

“But when we had the stroller, obviously, you can’t use a golf cart,” she added.

“We brought everything that we thought we might need,” Bannister said. “By day two, we could leave a few extra things at home because we had our rhythm a bit better. The things we always have are her diaper bag, bottle, headphones for all the music — she has to have them on every set — and snacks on snacks on snacks.”

Additional accommodations for Hani included goggles for the golf cart, a hat (because she’s a ginger), and lots of layers. 

Apparently bringing a kid to Coachella isn’t so out of the norm, as Bannister explained that there was a congregation of kids in the “Kidchella” merch area that popped up on Saturday.

“There definitely weren’t a ton, but we had our fair share of high fives as we walked by families with strollers. A few people stopped us and said, ‘We’ve thought about bringing our kids. How does it feel?’ We definitely said, ‘Don’t bring so many kids that you’re outnumbered,’” she warned.

“It’s hard, especially when they’re little because you’re kind of chasing them around, and you want them to be able to have a little freedom to walk around and dance and do their thing. But it’s also a lot of people, you have to navigate carefully and have your wits about you. It definitely changes your experience. So navigating the conditions was also challenging, making sure she was comfortable,” she said.

If you’re planning on bringing your baby with you to a festival, Bannister offered some advice on the best mindset to have so everyone will have fun.

“You have to take it as it comes. You can’t have a plan that you feel like you’re going to stick to. You have to roll with it. There’s going to be sets you’re going to miss. There will be different ones that you’re going to be like, ‘Well, let’s just sit and watch this one.’ You really gotta roll with the punches when you have the dynamic of one more little personality to factor in. It’s important that you’re flexible and have a positive attitude about it.”

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