Life with a baby can stressful enough. Put that baby, and her parents, in a new and possibly overwhelming situation such as Disney vacation, and frustrations are bound to occur. Things that seem easy, or at least routine, may prove challenging on the road. How do feed my child in a hotel room? How do I potty train in a theme park? How do I hold a squirmy baby in a haunted mansion?
Never fear, there are number of hacks and gadgets that can make Disney travel (or any travel) easier on all involved.
One quick caveat: As I mentioned in a previous article on packing, I am not a fan of bringing unnecessary gear on a trip. No one should be toting all of the mentioned items to the World. Just choose the few that help to keep your personal demons at bay.
How do I bathe my baby in a hotel room?
- Hack: Get in the shower/tub with her; everyone gets clean. Easiest when there are two adults on hand, one to do the washing and one to take the wet baby while the other adult dries off.
- Gadget: Inflatable baby tub. Inexpensive and takes up almost no room when deflated, but difficult to fully dry.
- Gadget: Handheld shower converter. Sit an older baby in the tub and use a gentle spray for shampoo removal.
How do I potty train in a theme park?
- Hack: Um, don’t. Bad mommy confession time – We had a WDW trip planned when one of my daughters was right around training age. We decided to keep her in diapers and not attempt potty use until after our trip.
- Hack: Make frequent visits to the baby care centers. The park baby care centers are equipped with super small, child-sized toilets. So fascinating, you child my never want to leave.
- Gadget: Bring a portable folding potty seat. Just toss one of these (about the size of a hardcover book)in your backpack and you can convert any standard toilet into a child-size toilet. Just remember that the Disney/airport auto-flush toilets scare the heck out of some toddlers. Bring a pack of dark-colored post-its to cover the sensor.
How do I warm my baby’s bottle?
- Hack: Don’t do it. Maybe I’m lazy, but I never quite understood the “warm the bottle” thing. Once my kids were about a month old, we did progressively less warming of bottles. You drink room-temperature or cold beverages, baby can too.
- Hack: Use the microwave oven in your resort food court. Not particularly practical for middle-of-the-night feedings, but it works. If you want to do this often, request a room close to the food court. Also, the baby care centers in the parks have microwaves for guest use.
- Hack: Use your coffee maker (at the moderate or deluxe resorts). Run water through your coffee maker, without the coffee. Place bottle in pot of heated water to warm.
- Gadget: Electric bottle warmer. Kinda heavy to pack, but more official than the hack method.
How do I keep my baby cool in a theme park?
- Hack: Don’t go out mid-day. It’s been said before, but it works.
- Gadget: Fill a hot water bottle with cold water or ice. Place this in the stroller with baby to keep his immediate environment nice and cool.
- Gadget: Keep the air moving with a stroller fan. Make sure you position it away from tiny fingers.
How do I handle my baby on a ride?
- Hack: Don’t worry about it. Just carry your child and hold her on your lap during the attraction. If the posted height requirement allows you to bring your baby on an attraction, then Disney thinks it’s safe to do so.
- Gadget: Wear your baby in a front carrier. When my twins were babies we wore them on front carriers on rides such as Small World, Buzz Lightyear, Haunted Manison, and the Kilimanjaro Safari. This allowed them a good view of the attraction and allowed me to keep my hands free to hold on to a hand rail or to my older daughter’s hand.
How do I carry all my baby gear?
- Hack: Tote less gear. Keep your big diaper bag in a locker and stop by repeatedly to replenish your “on hand” supplies. Make use of resort package delivery or package pickup if you make purchases.
- Gadget: Bring a few extra stroller bag accessories. Works with your stroller or Disney’s.
- Gadget: Disney strollers have no cup holders. Bring your own.
I have a baby and a preschooler, do I have to bring a big doubler stroller?
- Hack: Rent a Disney stroller only as needed. Your older child may not need a stroller all the time. Use a rental for only part of your trip.
- Gadget:Get a buggy board attachment for your stroller. Fits in your suitcase and turns your single stroller into a sit-n-stand with a quick clip. Saved my family from having to bring three strollers on several WDW trips.
- Gadget: Bring two lightweight umbrella strollers and turn them into a double stroller as needed with stroller connector clips. This gives you twice the flexibility.
I’m going to rent a Disney stroller. How do I make it more comfortable for my child?
- Hack: Grab some towels from your room (they’ll bring you more). Use two as cushions to make the seat softer. Use one draped over the canopy as a sun shield, privacy screen, or light rain protection.
- Gadget: Use a blow-up seat cushion for a softer ride.
- Gadget: Bring a sun shade and/or plastic rain cover to keep the elements at bay.
How do I keep my toddler/preschooler from falling out of a big hotel bed?
- Hack: Make a nest of pillows/blankets on the floor and have him sleep there. Housekeeping will bring you whatever you need.
- Hack: Push your desk/table chair against the side of the bed to form a barrier.
- Hack: Borrow a bed rail from housekeeping.
- Gadget: Bring your own bedrail.
How do I get my anxious child to sleep in a hotel room?
- Hack: Leave the bathroom light on and keep the door ajar. Might be enough to keep the monsters away.
- Hack: Get a flashlight and/or white noise app for your phone. As long as it’s plugged in, you can let these go all night.
- Gadget: Bring a night light with you.
My child wants a thousand bedtime stories. How do avoid bringing the library with me on vacation?
- Hack: You know all those weird closed-circuit TV channels that run on the Disney hotel sets? Often one of them runs a loop of low-key children’s stories in the evening. Story time with Duffy! And yes, I do realize that this is not the same as interacting with a book (I’m a former librarian), but everyone’s on vacation here. A few nights of slacking will do no permanent harm.
- Hack/Gadget: Load up your electronic device with kiddie lit. No extra weight.
- Hack: Bring an anthology which includes many favorite stories. Good choices are The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury and Harper Collins Treasury of Children’s Book Classics.
These were some of the travel issues I faced when my daughters were younger. What are your personal baby travel bugaboos? What are you favorite baby travel hacks and gadgets? Let us know in the comments below.