Disney World with an infant

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in BABY, Disney, Florida, New Mom Experience, TRAVEL

***

While I am continuing to work on the photo and story posts from our trip to Disney last month (among a million other things), I wanted to go over what it was like visiting Disney with an infant, FOR that infant, tips, tricks, what worked, what didn’t, what we liked and what was not so good. I will not be writing about most of the basic things you can find about Disney with a Google search. I will talk about our experience and what worked for us and hopefully these things will help you out if you ever decide to venture out to Orlando yourself.

First of all, I’d like to mention that this trip was made for Alexis. Yes, we were both DYING to go to Disney again, so that played into the decision to take her to Disneyworld, despite the fact that she is too young to take too much out of it. However, the purpose was to go there hoping she’d enjoy it as much as we do, see the sights and have a new experience. We have been Disney passholders for as long as I remember living in Florida, so we had already done our share of rides and Disney fun. This was our turn to introduce the Magical World to our daughter.

THE TRIP THERE:

It wasn’t a very long “road trip” but given that we are still a little bit scarred from the times when Alexis would cry and cry in her old car seat, I was a bit nervous about having her in the car for 3 hours. So I tried to prepare. First of all, I cannot stand when our car is messy. That being said, now that we have Lexi, it is messy ALL THE TIME. So I found a few things that make car trips more manageable from the sanity standpoint for me. It’s not that important for a short trip like this one, but for longer road trips these are life savers.

LitterBag:

We usually have trash all over the car: used paper towels, hand wipes, wrappers, bags, empty bottles- you name it. And it’s all thrown all over the front and the back seat. Solution: LitterBag c/o OneStepAhead. It’s this black small(ish) fabric box that gets velcroed to the car mat and has a “velcro lid”. That’s where the trash goes. Nice and neat, out of the way and doesn’t look like a trashbag or trashcan. It won’t tip (velcored to the mat) and is waterproof. Perfect solution.

Car Organizer:

This one for me is a must. We bring multiple toys and books on our car rides, especially long distance ones, so again to keep it all in one place, we use a car organizer. It fits perfectly in that middle section of the backseat, keeps all the toys, books, hand sanitizers, wipes, cups neatly tucked away. I LOVED this one from One Step Ahead, until I realized the lining is made of PVC (boo!). So now we have this one from Diono, but it’s nowhere near as big and convenient as the One Step Ahead version.

Kid Music CD:

Cranberry Red Balloon Cd
I am not sure why exactly but this CD of kids’ music has ALWAYS calmed Alexis. She’s fallen asleep to it (once we got the new seat), she’s sat calmly staring out of the window listening to it, she stops fussing as soon as we turn it on. It’s kind of magical.

Children’s Books:

Like I mentioned earlier, Alexis isn’t crazy about being stuck in one place for too long. Thankfully, the car seat issue was solved with the convertible car seat, but there is still an issue of keeping her content and entertained on long trips and making sure she doesn’t die from boredom. I usually let her play and entertain herself until she starts fussing.  Then I give her a different toy or a book to look through. Once that is not enough, I start reading her our favorite books. I keep 4-5 board books in the car at all times for this very purpose. You can see board book list here.

ALEXIS AT DISNEY

My expectations were that she was going to absolutely love all the colors, the age-appropriate rides, and the atmosphere, considering what a visual baby she has been since birth. But I  also realized that for her at the young age of 7 months, going to the mall would probably give the exact same stimulation as Disney would. And I was ok with that.

Spending 4-5 days at Disney gave her frequent change of scenery, new things every day, and great {over?}stimulation of all her senses and that was what we wanted.

Something we didn’t know, though, and could not have expected is that we happened to take Alexis to Disney at a slightly wrong time in her development. See, had we taken her there between 4-6 months when she  was so focused on seeing things in her environment, she would have been much more interested in the sights and sounds. However, we went during September, the least busy month of all, when she has already switched to being interested in crawling, standing up and touching things closest to her. So a lot of the visually impressive attractions were spent trying to touch the handlebar, standing up in the seat and flirting with the riders behind us. Despite that, the trip was a great opportunity to get away from the old and familiar,  to see our daughter in the world that we love so much, dressed up in beautiful dresses and mickey ears (photos coming soon). It didn’t become a trip for Alexis like we had hoped, but she was a part of it and she enjoyed it as much as a 7 months old baby can.

It was not hard AT ALL being at Disney with an infant, given that we had all the necessary equipment and were very familiar with the parks and amenities. I would like to encourage anyone who is considering visiting Disney, but is concerned about doing it with an infant. Depending on your infant’s personality, it can be either manageable or very easy. Disney has done a decent job making the parks baby friendly (they could do better, but what is in place already is good enough) and with spousal help, it is definitely manageable and can be fun. I would even consider going to Disney on my own with Alexis, if Andrew is ever too busy, as long as I have the right equipment (read: the right carrier and/or stroller)

HER ROUTINE AT DISNEY:

I am planner and I love schedules when it comes to myself. However, I am not a “schedule based parent” when it comes to Alexis, we do everything based on her cues. She sleeps when she displays signs of tiredness along with the appropriate amount of time having passed (based on prior experience), she eats when she asks for it, she comfort nurses when she needs to, she wakes up when she needs to. Knowing that she usually goes anywhere from 2-4 hours between her naps, and if she is visually or otherwise stimulated that time has been known to stretch out to 5-6 hours, I had a pretty good idea of what we can or cannot accomplish and enjoy at Disney. My plan was to wake up bright and early at her usual time and take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours ( an additional hour in the morning or 1-3 hours in the evening when the park is open to resort guests only), come back to the hotel room 4 hours later before the heat of the day gets to its peak, rest, take a nap, eat, possibly have a late lunch at one of Disney restaurants located in parks and resorts ( those are great to go to, since they are all themed), hang out at the pool or play in the room till late afternoon, then we’d take another nap and go to the parks refreshed. If the day was overcast, I planned on seeing if she can nap at the park in our arms or the stroller (she doesn’t fall asleep in a carrier unfortunately) and then continue with the day at the park. It worked out pretty well with 4-5 hours being the exact time when Alexis really needed to nap. However, she was so excited being out and about that we never actually got to sit in the room and play.

{sharing some edamame peas after a nap}

Here what most of our days looked like (except for the last day):
7:00 am Up for the day, get ready, quick cereal, off to the parks
11:00 am Attempt to nap at the park if it’s overcast. Or if it’s hot and sunny, we’d go back to the hotel room for a nap
2:00 pm After a good 2 hour nap, a shower, and a change of clothes, we are off to have lunch at one of the hotels that we’ve made a reservation for.
4:00 pm After a nice leisurely lunch and we are usually back at our hotel for another nap.
5:00pm- Off to the parks for the evening
9:00pm- Done for the day and going  back to the hotel or have an 8 pm dinner at one of Disney restaurants.

NURSING AND NAPPING

Despite a potential for a disaster, it was really easy and laid back when it came to napping and nursing at the park. All Disney parks have a Baby Care center that is fully equipped with anything baby related. They’ve got changing rooms, supplies, kids’ room, nursing rooms with rockers and dim light (though watch out for obnoxious mothers who despite the calm and quiet atmosphere of the nursing room, walk in with their grandmother, and loudly talk on the phone and laugh while feeding their baby).

I never noticed these areas when we used to visit the parks childless, but they are pretty convenient  (except for Animal Kingdom). Magic Kingdom has a baby center next to the crystal palace between Main Street and Adventureland. Animal Kingdom has one by the entrance, which is quite inconvenient to have to go to the from the back of the park (so we never actually visited it). Epcot has one smack in the middle between the Future world and World Showcase.

It was also no problem breastfeeding anywhere in the park. There were plenty of secluded shaded places. I made sure to nurse her frequently to prevent dehydration. We only visited the Baby Center once a day for a nap. I would sit in the nursing room and let Alexis sleep in my arms. That was the only way she would fall asleep at the park in the beginning, because it’s too stimulating otherwise. We tried to move her into the stroller while she was asleep once and of course she woke up and was really pissed at us for doing that :)

On her last day or two, she actually managed to fall asleep in my arms while nursing in the middle of a busy area in the park, which was nice. Otherwise, I was really surprised to see how easy it was to manage naps and nurse at the parks, even though Alexis doesn’t tend to be easy when it comes to naps.

Gear

 

DIAPERS:

Initially I wanted to use cloth diapers for the trip. “We can do it!”, I said. We can wash the diaper in the laundry room at Disney, I thought. Hubs didn’t buy it. And he was smart not to. We went with disposables primarily because I felt they would be less hot and hindsight being 20/20 it would have been REALLY hard and annoying to have to do diaper washes, so I am glad we did. We were exhausted as it was after a day at the park, to have to worry about cloth diapers… ugh, no! I wish I had thought to at least bring a few bloomers to cover up the ugly disposables peeking from under her dresses, but I didn’t think that putting another layer on her in this heat was prudent.

OUTFITS:

I had two outfits planned out for her for each day, and honestly we could have used a third. Before the trip I was considering buying her a princess outfit for the first trip to Disney, but thinking about the scratchy polyester hot costumes that they sell- I was just not going to do it to my baby. Once she understands what it’s all about and wants one- we’ll do it. A few days before the trip, though, I got sent a silk baby dress that could not have been more perfect. It was not hot, not cheap looking like costumes tend to be and Lex looked ADORABLE in it. I am so happy we were able to have that dress for our first trip, I cannot tell you. I know I would have been really disappointed after the fact had we not dressed her into something special at least one for the days. There will be a ton of pictures of our little princess in this dress at the Garden Tea Room, but for now, here’s a tease. The dress is from http://www.babybeauandbelle.com/ and they have a ton of gorgeous sets. If you’re looking for a special outfit I’d definitely consider looking at them.

Contents of our Diaper bag:

I had a whole list of things to pack for the parks that I thought would be handy:

  • spare outfit and spare simple 100% cotton onesie
  • high chair cover ( that we kept in the car)
  • Spray hand sanitiser by Dr Bronner (no nasty ingredients like in conventional hand sanitizers)
  • Cleanwell hand wipes (no alcohol, non toxic)
  • Hat, sunscreen, water
  • Boba Air
  • a couple of toys
  • board books {Occasionally, rather than take our car to the parks, we would take the Disney bus. If you are visiting parks other than MK, a car is more convenient because you don’t have to wait for a bus in the heat, however MK is a special case. Since there is no parking next to the park itself, you have to leave your car at the transportation center (or a MK area resort) and take the monorail/boat to the park itself. That was incredibly time consuming and considering we had a limited amount of awake time, after the first time of attempting to do so, we opted for the bus from the resort. Lexi being the interested impatient curious girl that she is, wasn’t going to sit still in the bus so our little board books that fit nicely in the diaper bag became an instant hit for the whole family. She sat there contently and quietly the whole ride EVERY time as I read her the same stories over an over again from the 5 books we happened to bring to Disney. So if your little one loves books, don’t forget to bring them with you on your Disney trip, as well}

Speaking of a diaper bag… Instead of bringing my diaper bag, we brought Andrew’s diaper dude. Since it was so heavy, stuffed with every necessity for a baby, Andrew ended up having to carry it when we were sans stroller and it would have really sucked if he was walking around with a light purple women’s diaper bag. I know I’d hear a lot of complaining.

STROLLER/CARRIER

This trip to Disney was also our first time trying out two products, a Boba Air carrier and a Kiddy USA stroller. A perfect combo for a Disney trip: babywearing and strolling.
I know there are people who will babywear the whole trip (though, judging by the park not too many) and those who think that’s crazy and use the stroller for everything. We were somewhere in the middle. First of all, we wanted to  try out both products properly, so we tried to use them organically. When the situation called for a carrier, we strapped one on; when it felt more comfortable to have a stroller, we pulled it out. In the end, I feel like we couldn’t have done it comfortably without either one. I think that IF you’re going to Disney with another person, both a carrier and a stroller is a must at the parks, especially for a baby who isn’t content sitting in the stroller the whole time, like Alexis, and here is why.
So picture this:
You wake up in your room at a Disney resort and after getting ready, you head out to the bus stop. It’s a short walk, too short it seems to strap the baby into the stroller, only to have to remove her and fold the stroller a minute later. So you quickly and easily put her in your carrier (on your back or front) and confidently walk to the bus stop. Your husband grabs the stroller and you carry your little one in a carrier in the bus and out to the park entrance.
Once You get into the park, you fold the carrier and put it away (that’s where Boba Air came in really handy specifically, since it folds away into a neat pouch). The baby goes into the stroller with a large UV protective canopy to shield her/him from the hot Florida sun (that’s where I don’t think it’s feasible to do Disney stroller-less for smaller children that should not be exposed to the sun as much).
You walk all through the park and get to an attraction. The stroller gets left at the entrance of it, you strap the baby into your carrier and go stand in line. Get out of the ride, back into the stroller. Rinse and repeat. It’s PERFECT! It IS possible to do Disney with either a carrier or a stroller of course! But it wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable. That being said, if I were to go to Disney alone with a baby, I’d opt for a carrier, like the Nordic we love or Boba 3G, since they have better padding than Boba Air.

Rides

Here we had a bit of a disappointment. I was SURE she’d be fascinated with all the colorful and fun kiddie rides and I was really looking forward to seeing her eyes light up with excitement. Not so much. We happened to take her to Disney right at the time that her focus shifted from looking around (which is what she loved doing at 4-6 months) to crawling and grabbing things within reach. She was more interested in grabbing handles, flirting with people and in general looking at things that are within arm’s reach rather than look up and see the magnificence of Disney’s imagination. This is where I think if you’re planning on taking your infant to Disney so that he/she would enjoy it, make sure you do it BEFORE they start crawling and in that perfect window of “Wow! Look at the world!’. Of course, every baby is different, so I’d be interested to hear how your little ones reacted to rides at Disney. Despite the fact that she wanted to eat every single ride’s handle, we had enough fun experiencing our favorite place with her.

She did have a favorite ride, though. One that made her smile and laugh. It was the carpet of Aladdin and Dumbo. She loves the fast up and down motion so I made sure to direct the carpet to go UP UP UP and then DOWN DOWN DOWN. I think that was the only smile we got on the rides. The rest she was just fussing to reach the nearest object :) Same thing happened at Animal Kingdom, she somehow couldn’t care less about big animals in the distance, but as soon as she saw a mouse in a glass box, she went crazy for it, or the fish in the aquarium at Epcot. Those were real hits!

Aside from the rides, she enjoyed playing in the splash areas, crawling on the ground, riding the train, looking at small animals, touching fishes, nursing AND EATING! She had a ton of fun at Disney restaurants. All the people and excitement and new foods.

We are thinking about going to Disney again around Christmas time, so it will be interesting to compare the two trips, both from our perspective and Alexis’ one.

 ***

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t see a comment field?

Read here why!
If you absolutely HAVE to ask me a question, feel free to reach out via email.
I'll be happy to answer when I get a spare second.
contact at prebabyblog dot com