Disney World Travel With Baby: Hacks and Gadgets to Make the World a Better Place

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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.

Inflatable baby tub.

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.

Electric bottle warmer.

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.
  • Bring several cup holders to make the Disney strollers more useful.

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.

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Posted on February 22, 2012

13 Responses to “Disney World Travel With Baby: Hacks and Gadgets to Make the World a Better Place”

  • Having gone at six times with my now six yr old and seeing as my 3 yr old has gone at least 3 times…..

    Potty Training: Knowing when to go. Check. Knowing to go now because Dumbo is a 20 min wait and might not be able to wait that long… a whole other story. ;)

    Keeping bottles cool: In addition to the cold-water bottle, wrapping both with a towel helps as well… works like insulation.

    Double Stroller: We just used a double stroller. It’s only twice a day for folding/carrying onto/off busses. Rented from a 3rd party that was cheaper and lighter than our own double.

    Bed Rails: I think that should be first… kinda like requesting a crib for an infant. Why bother with a hack when the real thing is available.

  • Our son was actually in the beginning stages of potty-training on a recent trip to WDW. We decided to go forward with it (with pull-ups not underwear) and he did a great job. There were enough bathrooms located throughout the parks to make it work relatively well. We just made sure to keep asking him if he needed to go potty when we were near a bathroom or before we got into a longer line. I find myself wishing all the time that the public restrooms we take him into were as clean as those at WDW!

    Great suggestion on bringing an anthology book of stories. There are several great Disney ones out there that tie-in nicely to a Disney vacation.

  • I used a Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad to keep my baby cool in the May heat. Basically, I put that around him in a front carrier, and it worked fine.

    And although I’m also not a fan of bottle warmers, I’m pretty sure I saw them available for use in at least one of the baby care centers, so that could work in the parks. (I don’t think microwaving is recommended for warming baby bottles nowadays.)

    Finally, your bathing with baby tip is great. I did that successfully at WDW and was impressed by how much faster it was than the sponge baths we were giving him at home (my son was just learning to sit up at the time).

  • by Nicole Jolley on February 22, 2012, at 3:55 pm EDT

    Bring sticky notes if your child is scared of the magic potties. My little one hates them so all I have to do it cover the censer with the sticky note and no more magic potty. I pull it off after she has started to leave the potty.

    I did bring a bottle warmer with me on one trip worked well for the middle of the night but in a pinch running it under hot tap water worked just as well. The baby care center does have bottle warmers to use in the park or I asked for a cup of hot water to warm the bottle up in just keep it out of reach from the little ones.

    If you using the Disney strollers a messenger bag works well. The strap fits right over the handle and you have lots of room. My in laws just rented a double stroller through Orlando stroller rentals and loved it so we won’t be bringing our own again. The two four year old had lots of room and loved it.

    Keeping little ones cool I went to Walmart and spent five dollars on a fan spray bottle and just keep misting them.. They loved it and when there was rides that they could not go on they played with just the spray bottles and got each other wet.. It was so hot that they dried in minutes. My sister in law also got some great pictures from this too.

    Bed time stories we found a game for our daughters DS that has 1000 stories on it.. So we had plenty to choose from and we were already bringing it with us.

    With potty training we just kept to our normal times at home. She wore a pull up and there are restroom all over the place.. We did use the folding potty seat but if your child is a little heavy they can fall in to the big potty’s. It was not a major deal. you just take the park at their speed and you will have a better day. If their done then leave and come back later after naps. Everyone will enjoy it better.

    One thing to add I went through a lot of changes of clothing when we were there. Ice cream melting and one got a stomach bug. But before we left I went to a thrift store and grabbed a few outfits. So if they were destroyed I was not bothered by it.

    We rented the bed rails it was worth the cost..

    When we were there the first time with our oldest daughter she got a stomach bug and was sick on and off the whole time we were there. So by mid day she was not good then in five min she was great. One day I went through six outfits due to her not feeling good and that was in a two hour time frame. I went into a store at MK to get a bag to put dirty clothes into . And when I told lady why I needed it she gave me a few. Just then my mother in law came in to buy a new outfit for my daughter cause my father in law split water on her and in October it was not that warm out to let her stay wet. The mother next to me asked me her size and gave me an extra outfit to have. She had gone to the thrift shop before she left and did not care about giving it away. I was shocked and happy at the same time. And yes I was talking to my daughter doctor after the first few times she got sick. But since my husband started to show the same signs we need it was a bug. Also if you have little ones bring the packets of Pedialyte with you. If they need it you will have it and it will be alot cheaper then buying it there.

    When our daughter was two we went back to Disney and I was worried if she walked off, she was shy and would not tell people her name. So i took a large mailing label and put her name and age and then our cell phone numbers as well as the numbers of any family member she might have been with. On the other side I took Princess pictures and made it look pretty. Then had it laminated. And put it on the end of a layered. We put a few pins on it with locking backs and she loved to wear it. We showed her a cast member and asked what to do if we got lost and she showed then the tag. This way someone could call us and she did not have to talk to anyone. and at two not too many people can understand the little ones. This year we got a small flash light and put it on the end so in the dark rides she could see but it was not enough to bother or riders. Also we could take it off when we left the park and I did not have to mark all of her clothing.

  • For our upcoming trip, I found a hotel that had a fold out couch (Dolphin). That will be our makeshift toddler bed because my 21 month old would not be happy if we tried to make her sleep in a pack and play again.

  • This past October we were in Disney World with a 4 yro and a 10 mth old infant. The only regret I had was not having a fitted stroller plastic rain cover. Disney strollers do not have them but all the strollers that were outside rentals supplied them. The poncho we tried to use just did not do the trick. We requested a pack n play upfront for baby, and bedrails for the 4 yro. Bottles were made with room temp 8 oz water bottles and single serve powder formula packets, easy to stow and go anywhere. We had one backpack with necessities: diapers, wipes, empty bottles, snacks, disposable bibs, and extra outfits rolled up in quart size plastic bags. We rented a car, it seemed easier for quick travel, cut down on wait times, and let us hit the local Walmart.

  • Erin,
    I really enjoyed this post. Any tips for parents of twins in future posts will be much appreciated.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • When our daughter was at the 6-7 month range (and we made two trips during that time), we rode the train. In our compartment, we used the pad from her changing table as a mattress. It had enough sidewall to keep her from rolling around and to keep Mom from rolling over onto her. I know, the tag tells you not to use it for sleeping, but that’s also assuming that it’s still on the changing table.

    Of course, a year later we started seeing travel mattresses for infants for sale.

    Something that bulky wouldn’t work for a flying trip, but for driving or the train, it’s great.

  • When our kids were little guys, one strategy we used for keeping them from falling out of the bed was to store our suitcases next to the bed that has a wall by it, then folding the bedspreads (which we never like to use anyway) and putting them on top of the suitcases. The little guy sleeps on that side of the bed, and one of us would sleep on the other side.

    When we had a toddler and an infant, we brought our stroller from home for the infant and rented a Disney one for the toddler. Only works if you have 2 people available to push, though!

    We always would get in the tub with the baby when on vacation. We have video of my husband giving one of our babies a bath at a Disney hotel. Cute! But make sure Dad or Mom wears a bathing suit or else you won’t have anything you can show friends and family. :-)

  • We visited WDW when my youngest was 10 months. We took the Auto Train down, and brought her pack’n’play for her to sleep in at the hotel. I was stumped for what to do on the train down and back, however. The bunks on the train are not standard bed sizes and the construction is such that you can’t assume bed rails that use the weight of the mattress to hold them in place will work. I also had no interest in using a bed rail at home.

    I ended up buying a KidCo Peapod (http://www.kidco.com/main.taf?p=4,5) and setting that up on the lower bunk. That was easy to carry & set up, and was exactly what I needed to be sure she wasn’t going to roll out of her bed. It also has more uses and can function as a “Cabana lite” for being outdoors. (beach, etc.)

  • Just a *few thoughts on this… we now have a 6 yr old, 4 yr old, 2 yr old and 1 yr old and another on the way and have been to Disney every year since our oldest was born. The youngest baby we’ve taken to Disney was our 3rd and he turned 6 months old while we were there. 10 months is the most enjoyable infant age in my opinion.

    For bathing infants… we just lay them in the tub with just an inch or so of water. We do that at home too, once the baby is about 2 months old- can’t stand the extra bulk of the baby tub.

    We ALWAYS bring our sit and stand stroller from home… it’s comfortable for them and highly convenient for us. We also frequently put 3 kids on it, one in the front, one sitting on the back and one standing on the back. (Yes, we drive, so packing space hasn’t been a real big deal- til next year when we’ll have 5 in carseats and probably 2 pack n plays as well.)

    For sleep… we usually have 2 boys in one hotel bed (this past trip it was our 4 yr old and 2 yr old). We turn the bedding sideways and pile the “comforter” at the open end. We put the smallest one closest to the wall (normally the head of the bed), and we’ve not had a problem.

    Potty-training… also never had a problem proceeding as usual in the parks. We just sit them on the big potty’s and they do fine- our biggest issue is convincing them not to strip- why do kids think that’s necessary? I have to stop often enough myself (pregnancy) that we just take them whenever I go. Also, rather than carrying stick-notes to block the automatic flush, you can just use a little TP, just dampen it (spit on it or something) and it will stick just fine.

    We’ve had sick kids in the parks too. We recommend bringing any over the counter meds you are comfortable giving your toddler (we pack tylenol, ibuprofen, and benedryl, and in the future we’ll be packing Clariton as well, since this past trip allergy season struck early for our 6 yr old and we had to go out and buy it for him there). First Aid is great, but we had a hard time getting children’s ibuprofen for our then 20 month old, because the label says to “ask your doctor.”

    Another thing about Disney with little ones… if they don’t like the Disney bus, or that’s an extra struggle, remember you can always use your car if you drive like we do. We had a really rough time with 4 yr old, 3 yr old, and 14 month old on the bus, when I was 33 weeks pregnant. When we got home from that trip, I realized we should have just used our car instead of the bus- wrestling with all of the boys and the stroller on the bus was just too exhausting- and they would have been perfectly content in their carseats.

    You didn’t mention it, but NURSING your infant in Disney is very simple and keeps everyone happy :) There are plenty of comfortable places to nurse besides the baby centers- though those are very nice and relaxing. Many attractions are actually great for nursing… Carousel of Progress, American Adventure, Hall of President’s, Country Bears, Ellen’s Energy Adventure… just to name a few of the obvious ones. And a nursing cover is much easier to carry than pumping supplies if you’re shy. It also pays to be a little flexible to your babies demands in Disney that may be very different from when he’s at home- keep in mind, this is serious stimulation he’s probably not used to.

  • Here in this blog I came to know about some new baby items like electric bottle warmer and the cup holder etc. These are very useful when going for a travel with baby. Thank you for giving information about such new and unique useful items.

  • We had our first stay at the hotel when our baby was 4 months old. I guess it has never been been a problem for him since he likes to sleep. Since that day, traveling has been easy for us. He only cries when he’s hungry. That’s all! :)