Visiting Disney with an Infant

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Princess Aurora and her Twin

Princess Aurora and her Twin

After getting pregnant, I’ll admit I was worried that visiting Disney World with a baby would prove too difficult. However, after bringing my daughter Annie at 11 weeks old, I realized that with a little more planning, we could still have an amazing time. With that said, allow me to share my tips and tricks for bringing an infant to Disney.

Top Tips for Visiting Disney with an Infant

- You can check your car seat and stroller for free with most airlines. It’s your choice if you want to check them at the desk or the gate. The employees don’t usually mind either way. It’s a good idea to put a name tag on your stroller (unless someone has a better stroller than you…then you might want to “accidentally” walk off with theirs – I did say I would give you tips and tricks, didn’t I?).

- Most airlines will let people with children board first, giving you extra time to get situated without the crowd. Take note that the airlines will not let you sit in an exit row if traveling with an infant, so keep that in mind when booking your seat.

- To avoid popping ears, nurse/feed baby when the plane takes off and lands. If baby isn’t hungry, try a pacifier. The sucking motion will prevent those ears from hurting and spare the ears of passengers next to you should baby fuss.

- A parent’s worst fear when flying is a crying baby. Try scheduling your flight during a time when your child would normally be sleeping. If that doesn’t work out, there are only so many things you can do because at the end of the day, babies cry. Think of it this way, the crying will bother you much more than it will bother fellow passengers…at least that’s what I tell myself!

On the go

This changing pad is PERFECT for on the go!

- When changing baby on a plane, you have two choices:

  • Make your seat a make-shift changing station (ask whoever is sitting by you if this is okay first).
  • Change baby in the airplane bathroom (In this case, consider undressing your baby beforehand to make things go a bit faster).

- Be flexible. Things will not go exactly as planned and that’s okay! Annie had a blowout right when the plane started to descend. I wrapped her in a blanket and the minute we landed, all I had to say was “blowout” and people were more than happy to let me exit the plane first. (Side Bar: Even if your child doesn’t have a blowout, it might be a good way to get off the plane faster…I know, I’m terrible.)

- If you’re using Disney transportation, a car seat is not required for your child. For both the Magical Express and onsite buses, boats, and monorails, you can just hold baby on your lap. You may, however, have to fold up the stroller like we did.

- Before you pack up the portable crib, see if you can request one at your hotel. Disney hotels will provide a crib, but I would suggest bringing your own sheets.

  • If your baby is sleeping in a bassinet, it may be more beneficial (sleep-wise) to just bring it along. We took the legs off ours, brought only the top part of the bassinet and just placed it in the crib. It worked beautifully.

- Start prepping baby for noise before hand. A baby who needs silence to sleep will not do well at the parks. While he or she is napping at home, make some noise! Vacuum, start the dishwasher, turn on music, etc. Get them used to noise so they’ll be more likely to sleep during your park visits.

- Think about how you’ll want to carry your baby at the parks. We brought both a stroller and a baby carrier. Annie was comfortable in the stroller but absolutely loved facing out in the baby carrier. She was in awe watching people bustling about and seeing thousands of twinkling lights during the Main Street Electrical Parade!

- Not only does each park provide several baby changing stations but also a baby care center. This center provides you with all the amenities of home, including high chairs, a kitchen, and even a microwave. In addition, baby necessities are available for purchase, though the prices are high.

- Try to limit how long you keep baby in the sun. Remember, infants can’t regulate their body temperature. Make sure to keep the baby hydrated with extra feedings and frequently check the back of his/her neck to make sure she is not getting too hot.

- You’d be surprised by how many attractions are baby-friendly. The dark, indoor rides were a great way to cool Annie off and allow her to enjoy a nice doze. She was a big fan of Mickey’s PhilharMagic!

- Take advantage of those extra hands! We went to the parks with family, and they were a LIFESAVER! Having extra help allowed my husband and I to enjoy thrill rides and have some time to explore on our own. We were so grateful to have them and they were just as grateful to have some time alone with Annie.

- Finally, here is my list of baby ‘must-haves’ when visiting the theme parks

Photo Op Case and Point: A 'mini' Minnie!

Photo Op Case and Point: A ‘mini’ Minnie!

  • Sun hat
  • Light-weight blanket
  • Sun screen
  • 2 extra pairs of clothes (You never know!)
  • Plastic baggies for blow outs
  • Nursing cover (Doubles as a blankie in a bind)
  • Bottle of water
  • Formula
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Extra pacifiers (If your baby uses them)
  • Baby jacket for night time
  • Changing pad
  • Diapers
  • Wipes (So many uses for these!)
  • Camera
  • Disney costume – Okay, so maybe this isn’t a necessity, but they provide some ridiculously cute photo ops.

How was your experience visiting Disney with an infant? Any other tips you’d recommend? If you have further questions, leave a comment or let me know on Twitter @AngelaDahlgren

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Posted on August 7, 2014

29 Responses to “Visiting Disney with an Infant”

  • I don’t care who goes to Disney; it’s a free country.
    But I do take issue when the advice on a well-respected blog advocates lying and placing an infant’s safety in jeopardy.
    1. Lying about your infant to get off the plane faster is inexcusable. Period.
    2. Holding an infant on your lap in any moving vehicle simply means the infant becomes the “cushion” between you and a very hard object in the event of a collision. The laws of physics continue to apply, regardless of your wishful thinking. Car seats save lives.
    After that life-threatening “advice” I stopped reading.

    While I welcome additional writers to this excellent site, I encourage the site’s managers to please retain quality control.

    • Disneydad,

      Disney does not allow car seats on buses. She probably needs to clarify the language to “doesn’t allow” rather than “doesn’t require”. There are no seatbelts and no way to secure a car seat should you want to and therefore they aren’t allowed. You have to stow the car seat under the bus if using magical express. Your best (but not ideal) option for riding on the bus is a carrier like the baby Bjorn or an infant sling. It at least prevents loosing hold of your infant in the case of minor accidents. I would recommend the same if flying without a separate seat for your infant. There are reports of infants being injured in severe turbulence when a parent was unable to maintain a secure hold.

      As a second point, I read a blog post by a flight attendant ( I think linked from this site) saying they preferred babies be changed in lavatories rather than seats if at all possible. That was an unofficial blog and one person’s opinion but probably a good rule of thumb. Changing stations in the lavatories should have a belt to secure baby in case of unexpected turbulence whereas the seat does not. Aditionally fellow passengers may feel uncomfortable saying no to a request to change an infant at the seat even if they would prefer it not be done.

      One final thought. Save your vacuum. As a practicing general pediatrician I have cared for thousands of newborns and infants over the years. Your infant will either sleep well with loud noises or won’t. It’s not a “trainable” skill despite what grandma or your well meaning best friend advises. I have seen many teary moms in my office who tried to “train” an infant to sleep in a loud environment.

      • by Angela Dahlgren on August 7, 2014, at 8:47 am EDT

        Anne,

        Thank you for your thought about changing an infant and the professional advice about sleeping through noise. I know myself, as well as other readers, will find it very useful!

        I appreciate the feedback!

      • by larslovesyou on August 7, 2014, at 10:37 am EDT

        no sense of humor, huh?

        I’m surprised you didn’t reprimand her for her jokes on taking someone else’s stroller too! That should have been your first clue…

      • What’s so inexcusable about lying to get off the plane? That was a joke anyway.
        Besides, I think the polite thing should be to let people go who really want off. But that’s not the convention.

        The government (FAA) doesn’t allow infant slings/ carriers during takeoff and landing.
        It’s safest to have baby in a car seat in their own seat. But if the plane crashes, it’s bad for everyone.

        If you take public transit (pretty much anywhere, not just Disney) you generally just hold your baby.
        It’s not as safe as a car seat. I didn’t read that as advocating for less safety. It’s the SAME amount of safety you get on most public transit.

    • I am pretty sure some of her comments were tongue and cheek! She is kidding about lying to get off the place! Her “advice” wasn’t wrong regarding Magical Express- as others have commented. Maybe you should think about changing your comments to just say you are not comfortable using Magical Express with an infant because you cannot use a car seat. That is all that needed to be said.

      Otherwise, Angela, I encourage you to keep writing and those that can’t handle a little humor can move on! One suggestion I would also add is I bring a sound machine from home for naps and bedtime at the hotel. It is not realistic to expect silence in the hallways at 1pm in the afternoon or 7:30pm and the sound machine does a great job drowning out some of that noise! I still bring it and my kids are 5 and 2!

      • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 8:12 am EDT

        Nicole,

        A sound machine is a great idea! We use a fan at home and just crank it up to block out the noise. I’ve never looked into sound machines, but my brother swears by it for his kids.

        Thanks for reading!

        Angela

  • Obviously you have never used Disney transportation. Very, very difficult to use a car seat when there are no seat belts or Latch system in place. So the blogger is not suggesting you put your infant in harms way, just stating the facts.

    • I have. It’s why I would never recommend its use for transporting an infant without the ability to guarantee the safety of a car seat. Disney’s magic has yet to supersede the laws of physics. My child’s safety outweighs my desire for “free and convenient.”

      • by Angela Dahlgren on August 7, 2014, at 8:56 am EDT

        DisneyDad,

        I’m sorry you didn’t like the article.

        We at TouringPlans appreciate every comment and opinion regarding our articles and thank you for your feedback!

        Angela

      • Maybe an infant is safer in a bus that statistically crashes less often than a car. I’m sure baby is better off not crashing than crashing while riding in a car seat.

        But then again, I actually love reading the opinion of DisneyDad. Sometimes you’ve got to water down the kool aid.
        Keep on respondin

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 7, 2014, at 8:58 am EDT

      Dawn,

      Appreciate the comment.

      Thank you for reading!

      Angela

  • Angela, thank you for this post. My husband and I are starting to plan for a baby. We take yearly visits to Disney and I was worried about how an infant would be in the parks. This helps ease my mind. Hope to see more posts from you soon.

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 8:16 am EDT

      Jennifer,

      I was so nervous beforehand! I was constantly researching and must have ran to Target about 5 times while packing because I didn’t want to forget anything!

      It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but turned out to be a fun and memorable trip. I’m sure yours will be the same!

      Wishing you an easy future pregnancy and a beautiful, healthy baby!

      Angela

  • We brought our 3 month old to Disney World last year for a one week trip. I was still nursing and Disney CMs were wonderful! I was never asked to cover up (it was way too hot to cover up the baby) I was often offered a chair if they saw me standing…once they even let me sit in an air-conditioned restaurant before it opened! They also let me take him on basically every ride except the roller coasters and rides like Kali River Rapids, etc.

    A great place to bring a cranky baby to soothe them is the People Mover–we travel during the slow times and they let me stay on for 3-4 times in a row when I politely asked. The Baby Centers ARE a great touch–IF you are close to them–however, I found it much easier to just do what I needed to do where I was instead of trekking back with a crying baby all the way to the Baby Centers–to make them more useable, they really need more. We never used Disney transportation so I can’t comment on that.

    One of the best things we purchased at Disney was a clip on stroller fan–its lasted us 4 years (just had to replace batteries) and we even use it at home in Texas. It had a Mickey hand as the clip and a bendable arm–clip to the hood of the stroller and ensure that Baby has a personalized airflow!

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 8:20 am EDT

      Jewel,

      CMs are the best. While waiting for Mickey’s PhilharMagic, I was nursing Annie under my cover and they didn’t bat an eye!

      I didn’t use the baby centers while I was there. I usually just brought her to the bathroom to change her. At the time, I just didn’t think about it since we were always on the go.

      That clip-on fan is a GENUIS idea! I am definitely picking one up for my trip to WDW in September. Thanks for the tip!

      Angela

      • by Maddi Higgins on August 8, 2014, at 6:17 pm EDT

        I went through CM training pretty recently and we were told very specifically to NEVER tell a nursing mother to cover up, since it’s both natural and a mother’s legal right to nurse her baby.

        • Excellent advice and training!
          For those who would dare insist a woman nurse her child under a blanket or in a restroom I always invite them to instead take their meal into a toilet stall and put a blanket over their head instead.

  • I would recommend calling your airline to check on their specific child policies so there won’t be any surprises at the airport. We usually fly Delta, and due to the higher number of children on flights to and from Orlando, they will only allow pre-boarding for families with children under the age of 2 on those specific flights. So, for example, if you are traveling with a 3 year old and 5 year old, you will be expected to board during your zone in the general boarding like everyone else.

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 8:21 am EDT

      Jessica Ann,

      That’s a good thought to double check. You don’t want any surprises at the airport.

      Thanks for reading!

      Angela

  • When deciding whether or not to take an infant / baby to WDW,
    Ask yourself these questions:

    1) Are you going to vacation with baby?
    2) What are some of your vacation choices with baby?

    Disney usually comes out way ahead. Planning for WDW for anyone makes a WDW vacation go smoother. And when bringing a baby, you’ll have a different experience than those who can blast through every attraction without baby swaps or those who might imbibe more at EPCOT.

    With the baby care stations, child friendly attitude, typically nice weather, child swaps, tons of no height restricted rides, and a fair amount of help this is a great place to vacation with a baby.

    Also: Don’t freak out about flying with a baby. Once they’re 2, you’ve got to pay for a whole seat. Take advantage of the “free” seat while you can. There’s a whole lot written online about babies flying. Other people’s problems are just that. Bring fresh clothes.

    The biggest tip I have that I didn’t read here: Stay somewhere with laundry. Baby’s stuff gets dirty. Especially if it’s 1 week or longer. Or practice sink washing in a pinch. Or use the self service laundry facilities at your hotel. (When you stay DVC, DVC Laundromats are free.)

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 8:23 am EDT

      Ron,

      Thinking about laundry is a good addition to the article. Especially with a newborn as they can go through several outfits a day!

      We stayed with family where a washer and dryer was accessible, and that made packing to go home much easier.

      Angela

  • Thank you for this post! We went in April, when my baby was turning 7 months and my other kids were 3 and 5. It was great!

    I did spend the extra money and bought my baby a seat on the plane. I figured, yes her safety was worth the extra $230! And it was nice to have the extra room. She was in her infant seat, and I didn’t take the base.

    I would caution against checking the seat though. Once it is out of sight, you have no way of knowing if it is tossed or otherwise damaged. The seat could be compromised and you wouldn’t know it. Judging how they treat suitcases, I wouldn’t risk it. The stroller, fine, gate check it :).

    I agree, a GOOD baby carrier is so important! With miles and miles of walking, it’s important to have an ergonomic carrier that will keep wearer and baby comfortable. I used a Kinderpack with a mesh panel and it helped keep us comfortable.

    I nursed during a lot of the dark, sit-down shows.

    She was at such a great age. She napped a ton (on a lot of the rides, I just continued to wear her while she slept) yet she wasn’t particularly mobile. She hadn’t yet figured out how to crawl, which was to my advantage. A few months later and it would be a much more challenging trip.

    Our whole family appreciates white noise for sleep, and we used my husband’s laptop and had it play from simplynoise dot com.

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 9:04 am EDT

      Kacie,

      That’s a good thought about checking the car seat. One I wouldn’t even have considered!

      We used the baby bjorn which was fine because she was so little. Now that she’s bigger and heavier, we switched to the ergo baby. It does the job, but I can see it getting a little warm. Good thinking with the mesh panel.

      Annie will be 10 months when we go next and I’m hoping she’s just as easy….haha…wishful thinking Angela. ;-)

      Thanks for reading!

      Angela

  • Hi Angela,

    I thought your blog post was great! Thank you for sharing your tips!

  • Our daughter will be four months when we bring her in September from the UK, so this is really helpful and appreciated – as are the tips from other parents in the comments section (except for those with a sense of humour failure).

    We’re flying Virgin and have booked a sky cot for the flight, so we’re hoping that will make things easier. We’re also bringing grandma with us, which will definitely help!

    One question to those talking about baby carriers – do you and the baby not get too hot and sweaty walking around in one of those?

    • by Angela Dahlgren on August 8, 2014, at 9:10 am EDT

      Matt,

      Grandma will be a huge addition! We had my parents, my husband AND his aunt and uncle. We had tons of help which made for an amazing experience. Plus, she’ll love the quality time with her grandchild.

      I would use the baby carrier with some caution. Baby carriers without a mesh panel will not breathe as well which will make both you and baby hotter faster. Although you can put a hat on baby, it won’t shade her arms or legs from the sun. This is probably the biggest reason why we used her stroller more. She was so little at the time (11 weeks) so I was always worried about her overheating. Can you tell I was a tad anxious at the beginning? ;-)

      That being said, on days where it’s not quite as warm or sunny (or at night), the baby carrier is awesome. So useful and allows baby to look around.

      I hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

      Angela

  • Thanks for the tips! I’m expecting and already planning our future trips to Disney. It’s nice to know others have already experienced this and have advice to help make that change in vacation planning easier.