Five Tips For Taking Babies And Toddlers To Disney

Suffice it to say, I’m a big fan of the Disney Parks. For me, it is always a good time to visit. Holidays, summer vacation, rain, sun, if I’m there, I’m happy. So I’ve never really understood when people talk about the “right time” to take their kids to the parks. It’s always the right time! Of course, I don’t go to Disneyland or Disney World for my kids, I go for myself. My kids are just lucky to have a Disney crazed mom, haha. But I understand that if you aren’t Disney crazy, the idea of bringing a baby or a toddler can seem pretty daunting. Which is why I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks for doing just that.

1. Expectations

I think this is my number one tip for any Disney trip, know what you’re getting into before you are in it, and you’ll enjoy your vacation more. For example, if you are traveling with a little one, but you are planning on being in the parks from open to close and riding Space Mountain five times in a row, well, your expectations might be very different from your reality and you might end up disappointed.

Taking a little one to Disney can be SO MUCH FUN! And you appreciate what the parks have to offer on a whole new level. Character experiences, shows, slower rides, are all things I didn’t fully appreciate until I was with my babies.

2. Rider Swap

But don’t think that you have to miss out on thrill rides just because you’re with your little one. As long as you have another adult with you, you guys have lots of ways to ride Splash Mountain or Tower of Terror (my two favorites). Sure, there are single rider lines and Fast Passes, but a lot of people don’t know about another option specifically for grown ups with little ones, Rider Swap.

The way it works, go up to your favorite big kid ride with your whole family and tell the attendant that you’d like to do Rider Swap. Follow their instructions (my husband didn’t once and he said he feared for his life due to the look I gave him, I do not doubt this) which will be some variant of one of you goes on the ride then, and the other one gets to skip the line when the first one is done riding. The best thing about Rider Swap, and what sets it apart from the single rider lines, is that it’s good for at least two people! So if you are a family of four, no one has to ride alone and one of you gets to ride twice! Use this in conjunction with Fast Passes and barely spend any time in line!

3. Down Time

Happy baby means happy parents right? And well rested baby equals happy baby? If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, I would definitely recommend building in some down time into your day. Babies and toddlers need rest and even if they aren’t sleeping, the stimuli of the Disney Parks can be a bit much if they don’t have a break from it.

What works best for me and mine, is going to the park early in the morning. If you have a little one chances are you aren’t sleeping in anyways, so why not enjoy the parks in the morning when the sun isn’t as hot and lots of other visitors are still sleeping in? We stay in the park until just around lunch time and then we go back to the hotel for a few hours of relaxation, napping for our youngest. Then, we head back to the parks for the evening. This works great for us because we avoid the parks in the middle of the day, when they are the busiest and the hottest, and it gives us time to recharge and regroup, so we aren’t dragging and miserable when it’s time for fireworks.

If you can’t get back to the hotel, try to find some calm things to do inside the parks. Maybe a nice sit down lunch reservation, or just find a quiet corner to people watch. When she was tiny, my daughter would fall asleep in her stroller, so my husband and I took it as an opportunity to get margaritas and people watch.

Or you could always try…..

4. Baby Centers

I’ve professed my love for the Baby Centers before, and I’m sure I will again. I love them so much. These could be a great place take a breather and stay inside the park.

Seriously, if you are traveling to Disneyland or Disney World with a baby or toddler, make note of where the Baby Center is in the park, it could just save your life. Alright, that’s a little dramatic, but I’m guessing you’ll be glad you did. They are a great place to feed your little one, rock your little one, or buy that tube of diaper rash cream you forgot to pack. Sometimes I go there just to have a quiet, air conditioned breather with my kiddo.

5. Strollers, Leashes and Carriers, Oh My!

Carriers – If your little one isn’t walking, pack a good baby carrier. One that is easy to put on and take off, easy to get your baby in and out of, and doesn’t take up to much space. You can’t take a stroller in lines, and holding a baby for forty five minutes while waiting to get on Pirates gets old really fast.

Leashes – Okay, I never, ever wanted to put a leash on my kid. The idea horrified me. But, then I was planning on taking my eighteen month old to Disneyland and I changed my mind. She didn’t like being in her stroller that much, she liked to run, and I didn’t want to lose her, so, baby leash.

Word of advice, don’t wait until you get to the Disney to introduce it. The first time I put one on my daughter was at a bookstore. She laid flat on her stomach and refused to move. It was a fun experience. We ended up introducing it to her like a new snuggly friend, she started wanting to wear it around the house, holding it’s tail. By the time we went to Disneyland, a month later, it was smooth sailing.

Strollers – Bring a stroller. Last year I ended up renting one of the hard plastic Disney strollers…. for my seven year old. It was late, she was tired, but we both wanted to see the new Pandora land at night. Animal Kingdom is a big park so, I got her a stroller and speed walked to Pandora. She loved it, I loved it, and Pandora is not to be missed, especially at night. My point is, you are going to want a stroller.

I like to pack a decent umbrella stroller that’s easy to operate. Especially at Disney World, you spend a lot of time taking transportation to and from the parks, and it’s a lot easier with a stroller that folds easy.

**HOT TIP** There are a bajillion strollers in the parks at any given time. They all look alike, and the cast members will move them to make room for more. Decorate your stroller to make it easier to find. We tie curling ribbon around the handles and wrap Mardi Gras beads. Festive and easy to find.

**BONUS TIP**

Lines are boring. Babies and toddlers will probably let you know exactly how boring they think they are. Pack (or buy) something that will distract them in line. For my daughter, it was one of those light up spinning toys that we bought in desperation after we spent a miserable thirty minutes trying to keep her entertained in line for the Jungle Cruise. For my son we came prepared with one of those misting fans.

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How I Became A Breastfeeding Pro at Disney World

Public breastfeeding in theory and public breastfeeding in practice are two totally different things. While I am all about the normalize breastfeeding movement, and supporting my public breastfeeding sisters, when it actually came time to take my boob out in public, I kinda froze. So when it was time to go to Disney World with my breastfeeding, eight month old son, I was really nervous. Surprisingly, by the end of our trip I had totally conquered my fears and felt like a public breastfeeding champion! Disney World really is a magical place! 😉 Here are some tips from a mom who’s been through it.

  1. Plan Ahead

OK, I know, duh right? Pretty simple tip. But duuuuuuuuuude, it’s so important!!! Disney World is roughly the size of San Francisco and is so much more than just theme parks! If you don’t really think about it before hand you will probably miss out on some really cool things or end up feeling totally overwhelmed when you get there. Speaking from personal experience. And then you throw traveling with a baby in the mix and look out!

I started planning for breastfeeding at Disney World before my son was born. Ok, that is probably a little extreme, and I am probably a bit neurotic, but it helped me feel less anxious about the whole thing.

I started by researching online and reading all the tips and tricks I could find. Personal accounts from other moms were invaluable. Disney also has sites upon sites for planning your trip, and whole sections on traveling with little ones.

Think about what to pack as a breastfeeding mom. Do you have a carrier that you use to breastfeed? What kind of tops and nursing bras will you be most comfortable in? Do you like to use a coverup? Keep in mind that Florida can be hot and humid, and you will probably be on your feet a lot.

  1. Baby Centers

Each of the four theme parks has a Baby Center. Disney describes them as, “a convenient place to feed, change and nurse little ones” but believe me, they are soooo much more than that! They really have just about everything a parent of a little one in a crowded theme park could want. Want a quiet room to nurse or pump? They have it. Need to heat up formula? Yup. Need diaper rash cream because all that theme park food has made it so your toddler can’t stop pooping? This is the place to go. Want a soft Mickey plush that your son can grab off the shelf and immediately stick in his mouth so you feel obligated to purchase it? They have shelves full of them. While each center is different, they all provide a nice, quiet reprieve from the parks, which is nice, even if you aren’t a nursing mom. As a nursing mom, if you are a little less comfortable nursing in public, or if your little one is easily distracted during feedings, these centers are invaluable. I looooooooovvvveeee the Baby Centers!

  1. Quiet Rides and Shows

Yes! You can nurse on rides! I mean what nursing mom doesn’t want to nurse their little one while riding The Mad Teacups, am I right? No, don’t do that. Please. But for every Mad Teacups, there is a quiet ride or show that is suitable for nursing. Spaceship Earth at Epcot is fifteen minutes long, air conditioned and slow moving.

My personal favorite is the Country Bear Jamboree. It’s almost sixteen minutes long, usually pretty empty, and I’m a total sucker for those country singin’ animatronic bears. 100_0133

  1. Go With The Flow

I was really nervous about breastfeeding at Disney World. I was picturing prudish vacationers pelting me with stale churros, I was dreading being chained down to Baby Centers and quiet rides and missing out on fun. And then I got there. On my first day in Magic Kingdom I saw a mom squatting outside It’s A Small World. She was talking to her husband and older children, her right hand was rifling in a duffle bag, and her left arm was cradling her nursing baby. No one was throwing churros at her! My fears were lifted! Honestly, with breastfeeding on my mind, I started to see breastfeeding mothers everywhere I looked. Moms nursing babies, on the go, and no one cared. I was really, pleasantly surprised with just how breastfeeding friendly the parks were.

It gave me the confidence to be a little braver with my own public nursing. I also started to realize just how many quiet nooks and crannies there are throughout all the parks. No matter where I was, I was always able to find a quiet, semi secluded place, good for nervous moms and easily distracted babies alike.

My favorite places to nurse (besides those glorious Baby Centers) were next to the exit of the big thrill rides, ie Space Mountain. Most of them exit into long corridors that usually lead to gift shops. Those long corridors usually have benches and quiet little areas for people waiting for people on the ride. The one for Space Mountain was my personal favorite. Not only was it surprisingly quiet, they had comfy benches and tons of outlets. I could nurse AND charge my phone! It truly is a magical place! 100_0036

So that is the story of how Disney World helped me conquer my fear of public nursing. And honestly, no matter what kind of nursing mom you are, feel confident that there are options that will work for you.