Tips for Bringing an Infant to Walt Disney World

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I have often encountered guests nervous about bringing a baby along on a Walt Disney World vacation. While any trip with a little one can be challenging, a trip to Walt Disney World is about as easy as travel gets. Disney is totally used to having infants among their guest population and have systems and supplies on hand to make a visit with a baby as easy as possible. To make things even more smoothly for mom and dad, here are some things you should consider when planning a Disney trip with a baby.

Air travel can be tough on little ears

It's easy to have a great time at Walt Disney World, even with several small children in tow.

It’s difficult to predict how an infant will react to his first air travel. Feeding a baby, or offering a pacifier, may make it easier for the child to equalize ear pressure. If you’ve had a bad experience flying in the past, you may want to discuss with your pediatrician the possibility of using a pain reliever such as children’s Tylenol.

Your baby can go with you on any ride for which there is no height requirement

This gives you dozens of options at Walt Disney World. At the Magic Kingdom alone, babies can go on Buzz Lightyear, the Peoplemover, the teacups, the carousel, Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more. And that doesn’t include shows, parades, or character greeting experiences. You won’t lack for things to do at the parks. If there are more intense rides that you’d like to go on, but which don’t allow tots, then you can take advantage of Disney’s Rider Swap option.

Your baby will likely be more comfortable in your own stroller

The Disney rental strollers are hard plastic with no padding or support. Additionally, the Disney strollers must stay in the theme parks. They are really most appropriate for toddlers or preschoolers. For a smaller child, you’ll want something softer that reclines. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a stroller than can be used throughout your vacation: at the airport, at your resort, at Downtown Disney, etc. If bringing your own stroller doesn’t make sense, you’re likely to be better off with an independent rental than with the Disney strollers.

Strollers are not allowed in ride lines. Have a plan for how you’re going to carry your baby while you’re waiting for rides

Having a comfortable stroller will make the whole family more comfortable.

If you have a good touring plan, you won’t be spending tons of time in line, but even in the best of circumstances you’ll be spending at least a bit of your day hanging out in a queue. A fifteen or twenty pound baby can feel like a lead weight when you’re holding her in line on day six of your vacation. Consider bringing a Baby Bijorn or similar front carrier or sling to use in lines. In many cases, you can continue to wear your baby while you’re on the attraction itself.

If you’re using only Disney transportation, you won’t need a car seat during your vacation

Car seats are neither required nor permitted on any form of Disney transportation. This includes the Magical Express buses from the airport, as well as the resort-to-park buses, boats, and monorails. You can hold your baby in your lap on any of these vehicles. Of course if you’re riding in a car, your baby will need a car seat. Most auto rental agencies will also rent car seats. Of course you will also want to check with your airline about what their child restraint recommendations or requirements are.

Practice with the Pack n’ Play

The standard Disney crib is a Graco Pack n’ Play play yard. These are readily available outside Walt Disney World, perhaps you have one already or have a neighbor from whom you can borrow one. It may be worth it to have your child practice sleeping in a Pack n’ Play at home for a while so that it’s familiar before your trip. There may be a VERY limited number of standard cribs available to borrow at Walt Disney World. If you child won’t sleep in a Pack n’ Play, you may want to inquire about getting a real crib in your room. Or if you don’t want to take your chances on crib availability, there are a number of independent companies who rent baby supplies, such as cribs, in the Orlando area.

Naps

In my experience, the closer I kept to my daughter’s regular nap schedule, the better time we had in the parks. Naps give everyone a much needed break from the hyper-stimulating theme park environment. Be sure to put some down time into your schedule.

Modify your expectations

Sometimes the best vacation fun isn't found in the parks.

While you may have been a theme park commando in your pre-parent days, your baby doesn’t (yet) understand the allure of the Ultimate Touring Plan. To an infant, a duck swimming in the Castle moat and Donald Duck’s fuzzy wings may be equally, or even more, entertaining than a stage show or ride. It’s OK to have a loose plan, but give yourself permission to abandon it if circumstances warrant.

The Baby Care Centers are your friend

Each of the Disney theme parks has a Baby Care Center. Locations are noted on the park maps. The Baby Care centers are quiet and air-conditioned, a real haven during the warmer months. They have multiple changing tables, a darkened seating area, electric outlets for breast pumps, kitchen equipment for warming food or bottles, and a supply of baby food, formula, and diapers for sale.

It’s OK to breastfeed your baby anywhere at Walt Disney World

The Baby Care Centers are a great place to cool off.

Florida law allows breastfeeding anywhere in public. However, if you’re looking for a quiet or private place to nurse, you can use the Baby Care Centers. Other good spots are longer or show-type attractions including Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, or Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom; American Adventure, Circle of Life, or Ellen’s Energy Adventure in Epcot; Voyage of the Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; or Finding Nemo or Flights of Wonder at the Animal Kingdom.

Figure out your diaper strategy ahead of time

The Disney shops carry only a very small selection of diapers and wipes, at a hefty price premium. Check out our suggestions about ways to have your diaper supply at Walt Disney World more economically than that.

Figure out your baby food strategy ahead of time

The baby food situation is similar to the diaper situation. The selection is small and prices are high. Plan to shop in Orlando, get a grocery delivery, or bring your own feeding supplies from home.

Take lots of photos

Your baby may not remember a trip as an infant, but when she’s a bit older you can use photos to remind her of the trip. This can help set the stage for a positive future visit.

Don’t be afraid to bring reinforcements

The Country Bear Jamboree can be a nice place to take a breastfeeding break.

If the number of babies is equal to or greater than the number of adults in your party, having an extra pair of hands can be a real sanity saver for all. My family made several Walt Disney World visits when we had three children under the age of five. It’s certainly possible to do this with two adults, but we had a better time when we brought along the grandparents, or even a babysitter.

So parents of teeny tots, what have been your best strategies for traveling to Walt Disney World with a baby? What do you wish someone had told you when you first visited as a parent? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on September 20, 2012

18 Responses to “Tips for Bringing an Infant to Walt Disney World”

  • I would recommend to take full advantage of the baby care centers – they are wonderful. When we visited last year with our 2 year old (and 4 and 7 year old) we didn’t give them much thought and changed diapers in the ordinary restrooms. We were directed to the first aid center one day in the Magic Kingdom when one of the kids wasn’t feeling well and it happened to be next to the baby care center which we then used to change the little guy. It is wonderful! Very clean, quiet and it even had a little sitting area with a TV for the older kids to wait while we changed the baby. I would make sure to know where these are located in each park and take full advantage of them.

  • Well, you have done it again. 5 days before our trip with our 2 year-old and you post as if you are my own personal planner. Thank you so much.
    I have one question regarding transportation. We will be using ME and the resort transportation for most of our trip, however there are two days we thought we might use a taxi for in resort travel. Do they require you to have a car seat for a toddler/infant? This will make a big difference in our transportation planning as we won’t be able to carry a car seat around the park all day.

  • I would also like to recommend The Carousel of Progress for a GREAT breastfeeding spot. I rode it 3x on my trip with my 5 month old. It is dark, quiet, & 20 minutes long. Just sit in the very back, my little guy went to sleep every time I took him in there. Disney is great for babies because of all the things they can do plus they have the child swap so mom & dad can do the bigger stuff and take turns. Also, I would recommend a baby carrier. I took one mainly for breastfeeding but it is WONDERFUL for while you are waiting in line! Hands free & my little guy went to sleep in his!

  • One more tip… if your baby doesn’t do well on Disney Transportation and you have a car with you, you CAN drive to the parks. This would have saved us many a headache with my now 3 year old when he was 15 months and just walking- he had no interest in sitting on our laps for the bus rides.

    Also- slings and other baby carriers are fabulous! You can nurse anywhere. They can nap as needed. Love them. Getting ready to bring our newest addition for her first trip and we are practicing with the sling regularly- she’ll be just under 4 months when we go next.

    • Cynthia we are planning a trip to wdw in Feb. 2015. Our daughter in law is pregnant now and the baby will be 4 mo old. could you tell me how it went with your baby. This is the first child so everyone is a little nervous about the trip.

  • I am going to name drop- since I think you were careful not to in the article- A Baby’s Best Friend is just that! ABBF is an independent company in Orlando that will drop off all of your baby necessities to your hotel and they are always CLEAN and in good shape. I have had great luck with them. Order whatever you want online and it will be there for you when you arrive! Also, I have Goodings deliver all of our food needs, including baby food! Again, they will deliver to your hotel on property and I have even had milk stored for me in a fridge (in the luggage storage area) until we had our room all ready for us! And, the Magic Kingdom Baby Care Center is always clean and great too. I was afraid to travel with my 1st baby, but now he is 4 and we are headed back in December with him and his brother- 6 months!

  • Wife and I our 3 month old last year with my parents. We brought a large umbrella stroller(almost always a free bag check item on the plane) and a large diaper bag that strapped to the handles. It was our base of operations. Kiddo could ride around in there and by the afternoon would nurse/sleep in here Ergo Baby carrier. The stroller then turned into a shopping cart of sorts storing all our souvenirs. We had a great time and she did too, especially the Nemo musical.

    Definitely recommend trying to spend some time together awake in the dark to see how it goes, and also try it with different people. Our daughter freaked out during the dark spots on the peoplemover w/ my parents while we rode space mountain. Also fireworks are loud even outside the park and if you’re able to stay out that late it might be freightening, luckily we just darted into Mouse Gear and punished my wallet. Just take it slow and try not too worry too much, there are hundreds of other people all around you in a similar situation and many will can be very helpful.

  • I second Carousel of Progress for breastfeeding, and also suggest: Hall of Presidents, People Mover, Monorail, and any other stage show type place.

  • I’ll second the comment about practicing with a pack and play. All of our babies have had trouble switching beds when we travel – even from one pack-n-play to another. We attribute that in part to the change in smell.

  • Great article Erin. Our son was 4 the first time we took him to WDW, and I was amazed at all of the babies (and pregnant women, bless their hearts) that we saw. At the time I thought we would never take a baby to the World. Fast forward to this spring, when I found myself in WDW with an almost 7 year old and a 4.5 month old baby. (You see, once your child has fallen in love with Disney World, he can think of many reasons why he wants to share it with his beloved new baby sister… very persuasive reasons. And let me tell you, Star Wars Weekends made an easy sell for his father, too.)

    We started with a 5 night Disney cruise on the Dream. If you are looking for an easy vacation with a baby, then sign up for one of those. It was our first, but nowhere near last, Disney cruise. It could not have gone better. We ended our vacation with a few days in WDW, mainly so that my 6 year old and his father could enjoy Star Wars Weekends. We chose to focus on Hollywood Studios for the Star Wars stuff, and also do Magic Kingdom for all of the very baby friendly attractions. (And you can’t take your child to WDW for their first trip and miss out on a castle pic, right?!) We had a great vacation, and it was pretty easy to take our baby.

    Know your baby. If he or she does not do well with crowds, heat, loud noise, or darkness, etc., then you will need to plan accordingly to avoid or minimize those situations. If your child doesn’t like ANY of those things, then you might need to wait until more tolerance is developed. The baby care centers are great, but have backup locations chosen, because there is only one center in each park and it may be a looooooong way from your location when you need a break. We also took a grandma and an aunt, and it was great to have them along. Sometimes they kept the baby so that I could enjoy a ride, sometimes they took the 6 year old while I nursed the baby, and sometimes they hung out with me to keep me company/went to buy drinks and snacks while I nursed and my son and husband went to do something. They even held my son’s place in line for pictures with Chewbacca and an ewok while he got in an extra ride on Star Tours.

    We missed rope drop by 30 minutes our first full day (unheard of for us), and learned that we had to allow more time to get into the park with our stroller, the baby, etc. We took the mid-day break, just like always, but I also spent a lot more time just hanging out with the baby than I would have before. We still used a touring plan, but relied on Lines since we had more unplanned stops than normal.(Am hungry baby, and some diapers, cannot wait until a scheduled break.) We spent more time split up into smaller groups so that my son could do things while we were taking care of the baby.

    I also never imagined myself in WDW with a toddler, but I will find out next year what that is like. I’m sure I will develop a whole new set of strategies to use with more mobile little one. If you love WDW, then you will find a way to make it work!

  • thanks very much for posting such a nice blog i really enjoyed…Baby Care

  • Hi I’m thinking of going to the parks for the summer with my twins who are 16 months, do They allow toddlers to sit in the shuttles without a car eat.

  • We took our son when he was 4 days old to WDW. We are die-hards:) he did great. We have always loved the People Mover and he does also. We went back when he was 7 weeks old, and two more trips are currently planned- 7 months & 8 months. Our baby carrier is a lifesaver and we take our time wandering around the parks & resorts its all about what OUR family finds fun. Being together and being at Disney World.

  • Just wondering if anyone has tried using something in the restaurant high chairs for a baby that can’t sit up yet. My son will be almost 4 months when we go in 20 days. He is 17 lbs. 27 in. long (the size of a 6 or 7 month old), so not a big fan of carrying him in the baby carrier. My stroller is also rather large (travel system). I have a snugly but not sure how to eat over him since his head would be at my chin.

    • Kelly – I have this problem at the grocery store because my almost 6 month old is already too big for his bucket-car-seat and not sitting up unassisted yet. I bought two of those “neck noodles”, the half moon shaped neck pillows at Target for $3. I put one behind him and one in front and he was just fine. The same would work in a high chair. I’m sure one would suffice. Good luck!