The Happiest Place on Earth can be a little stressful when you’re the parent. Managing children, making sure everyone’s experience is memorable, and trying not to lose your cool on top of it can be tough. Add in crowds, heat and a baby or toddler and it can feel impossible sometimes.
We only have the one baby so far, so I can’t speak to tips for bigger families or older children (subscribe though, I’m sure it’ll happen one day!). What I can do is share the things that have helped our family do Disney with a baby and enjoy it!
This is really important during the planning phase. While you’re booking your fastpasses and dining reservations, try to keep your baby’s schedule in mind. Or… what your baby’s schedule might look like in 3-6 months. Keep a block of time open for nap times.
Not only is that the time when the park is busiest, so you get to skip out on the worst crowds and lines, but it’s also usually the hottest. It’s a great time to get back to the hotel room (if you stayed on grounds, which I recommend) or ride something like Disney’s Carousel of Progress (a family nap favorite) over and over.
You’ll be singing “It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow” the rest of the day, but you’ll be well rested!
Even if your children are older and aren’t napping anymore, scheduling a slow down time in the middle of the day can be a great way to recharge everyone’s batteries so you don’t get Disney burnout. That is the #1 way to ruin a Family Disney Vacation.
Bring a Stroller
This one seems obvious for getting around Disney with a baby, but it’s for anyone with kids even up to age 8! I’ve seen my sisters use a stroller when they were that age. I mean, if they made adult strollers and I could talk someone into pushing me around I’d be all over that.
Disney is exhausting, spending days walking around the massive park, waiting in line in the heat, dealing with the stress, excitement, etc. It’s bad enough for us adults, but those little legs have to work twice as fast! Even if you usually wear your baby, bring a stroller anyways.
A stroller can double as:
- A storage place. We stuff ours full of bags, drinks, snacks, etc. The more you can bring into the park, the cheaper it is.
- A changing station. I’ll talk about it more in a later point, but when you’re on the go it’s a great place to change a baby.
- A place to nap. My son took many naps in his stroller on the go. It was wonderful to not have to go back to the hotel room every day for his nap.
- An impromptu bench. If your stroller is like mine, it can deal with the weight of an adult (just be careful!) and that came in handy a few times. I have used it to sit while I nurse him more than once.
- A battering ram! Ok, that one is mostly kidding. But it can be much easier to keep a group together and find the rest of your group when there’s a large stroller included. Just make sure yours stands out from the crowd with a balloon, unique color, special bag hanging off the handle, etc.
I was surprised at how many rides babies can go on! I expected to have to sit out more than half of the fun with our son, but he was able to go along with me on most of them.
Before you go, check out which rides they can’t go on, so you can plan ahead for when you’ll need someone to wait behind. The best part though is that even if baby can’t go, you can use Disney’s rider swap. You can read more on that here, but Disney has a system set up to make sure whoever waits behind doesn’t have to miss out.
Rides can also be a great place for baby to get some shut eye. The rocking of a boat, swaying of Peter Pan’s pirate ship or rolling of a car can be a great way to get baby a little extra sleep.
Nursing and Diaper Changes
Disney has baby care stations in each park, some are nicer than others and there are plenty of reviews with information on them like this post. However, on our trip to Disney with a 10 month old I never used them.
Yes, they are very handy, if you need to pick up baby supplies or want a quiet, private place to nurse, but I just want to reassure you nursing moms:
You can nurse anywhere in Disney!
A bench, walking around a store, on a ride, etc. I nursed everywhere. No one batted an eye.
All of the bathrooms have diaper changing stations too, but most of the time we preferred to do changes on the go in our stroller. We even made a game out of it and timed us! (10 seconds was the record) There is so much to pack into a day at Disney that we didn’t want to miss out on anything by having to track down the closest bathroom, detour the whole family, find the changing station, etc.
Anything you think you might need the first day, pack it! It’s better to be a little over burdened than not have something you need at. As the days go on you can figure out what you aren’t using to save on space. For us, we started by bringing our Lenny Lamb carrier, but realized we would much rather just use the stroller. After a day or two we left the carrier in our room and it was one less thing to bring along.
Make sure to bring things that will save your butt when baby gets cranky (favorite toy, snack, blanket, pacifier). My son gets hangry (just like momma) and the best way to help him when he’s having a bad day is feed him snacks. Our cart was full of them and they definitely came in handy.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
This is by far my most important tip for going to Disney with a baby. Or really on any vacation with a little one!
No one is going to be able to prepare you for everything, you’re going to have to roll with the punches (or tantrums) at some point. If you find that no one is having fun anymore, don’t be afraid to throw all of the plans and advice out the window and do what you need to in order to save your vacation!
Maybe your day at the park is over at 2. Then head back to the room and have a movie marathon! Or go to the pool and have a family pool party. I know those tickets are expensive, and I hate (hate hate hate) wasting money, but I’d much rather have a happy family at the end of it all than a cranky one who rode every single ride.
If you liked this, here are some other Travel posts you might find handy:
Memory Maker – The best way to make sure mom is actually in photos!
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