/ Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The WDW Radio Exchange is back once again!  This time, our panel of Disney veterans is addressing a question sent to Lou about bringing a baby to WDW.  Our panel is made up of five veteran Disney parents who have “been there” with a baby and have great advice to offer a parent bringing a little one for their first dose of Disney magic.  Please enjoy, and if you have been to a park with a baby, please add your ideas in the comments below.


Hey Lou,

Love the show.  My husband and I have been listening since the beginning.  We just have one quick question for you…   We are getting ready for our next trip to WDW in October for Food and Wine Fest.  We both know our way around WDW and all the basics since we make the trip every year and I was a former cast member.  The difference with this trip is we now have a child.  We are taking our son for his first WDW trip!  He will only be 6 months old when we go and now have all sorts of concerns about traveling with an infant.  We were wondering if this is a topic you have discussed on a previous show or if you have any suggestions on where we can find advice for visiting WDW with an infant.  Thanks and keep up the good work!

Beth


Tony Caggiano, Father of 2: “As father to two little boys, now 4 and 6 years old, I have ‘been there-done that’ when it comes to navigating ‘The World’ with an infant (or two).

While you may need to make some changes to how you go about your day, I certainly wouldn’t worry too much about being able to make the trip enjoyable for both you and the little one. Both of our boys made their first trip to WDW when they were just about 6 months old as well, and both trips were a blast and will always remain special to us.

Firstly,  Disney does a great job of offering help where it can; I think you should be sure to make yourself familiar with the Baby Care Centers offered within the parks. They offer a cool respite from the manic pace of the parks.  They also offer many of the amenities you may need during the course of the day. They are always clean, comfortable and quiet; the staff is also very helpful and should you forget anything from bottles to diapers, they offer a nice selection of items for purchase.

As for as your actual time in the parks with the little one, I would pace yourself. There are plenty of attractions you can enjoy as a family with a 6 month old, and for those which you cannot, be sure to take advantage of Disney’s Baby Swap policy. Most importantly, I am a HUGE proponent of midday rest. My guys always had us up early (yes, even on vacation) so we would take advantage of that and be in the parks early. There are little to no lines, and it is calmer and cooler at that time, so we could relax and enjoy the attractions or character meets. Then, around noon or so, we would schedule lunch, usually a table service meal, to escape the afternoon heat. When we were done with lunch, we would head back to the room for a nap…which ALL of us took advantage of, not just the baby. I feel this keeps everyone rested and helps avoid cranky outbursts, from both parents and little ones alike.

I have often heard people talking about waiting until children are ‘old enough to remember’ their visit, meaning 5 or 6 years old and up, but I have to say, both of my boys have been to Walt Disney World a number of times before they were even 3 years old. While some of their memories are vivid and other may have faded, I can assure you that my wife and I have all sorts of incredible memories of those visits, many of which would be very, very different from the memories you would share with ‘older’ young children!”


Jim Hoppe, father of 5 boys:  “Here are some basic suggestions, in no particular order:

The rule of 3 (part 1) : Unless you are lucky enough to be staying at a place with a washer and dryer, think about how many clothes you’ll need for the baby for the vacation, then multiply that number by 3. Same goes when going out to the park for the day. Multiply the number of clothes you think you need for the day by 3. They will pee and poop through their diaper, they will spit up and throw up on their shirts. Even if they never have before. You never want to be in the position when you are down to the last change of clothes.

Bring your own stroller- Disney strollers, on top of being expensive, are not baby friendly. Assume planning EPCOT a lot since you are coming down for wine and food.  If possible stay at a resort that allows you more use of boats and monorails as opposed to buses. There’s no way around it, strollers are a pain in the neck to bring on the bus, but they can be rolled right in the boats and monorails. Magic Kingdom resorts or Epcot resorts are best options. Try to get a stroller that has rain-gear to protect the baby from the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms.

The rule of 3 (part 2) : Calculate how much time you need to get ready to go to the parks and multiply that time by 3. As you are about to leave the room you will hear the sounds of a poopy diaper , or the baby will spit up, or you will be at the entrance to the park and realize you forget the pacifier or the formula. Allow plenty of time.

Embrace the fact that you no longer come first and it is all about the baby. If you have to get your “big kid rides” in ask cast members about parent swap. Will have one parent ride while other parent watches the baby then will let second parent on while first parent watches baby without having to get back in line. Unless that ride is scheduled for permanent closure however I encourage you to relive Disney through your kids…those rides will still be there in 8-10 years and then your kids will be able to ride, and they will feel like new all over again. Those years will fly by I promise you. Do the kiddie rides–there are lots that a six month old can do. They are taking in a lot of sensory input at this age. Be a kid again- that’s the whole point!

Magic Kingdom and EPCOT best parks for six month old. Hollywood Studios iffy, skip Animal Kingdom.”


Tonya Wolcott, Mother of 2: “What a wonderful age for your son’s first trip to Walt Disney World.  It’s really amazing how different things look when you start to see it through your child’s eyes.  While it may seem daunting, here are a few pointers to make your adventure stress-free.

Although it may seem easier to travel light, bring your own stroller.  In fact, before you leave home, personalize it so that it stands out in the sea of strollers when you leave a ride.  On our trips with infants, we purchased new, inexpensive strollers and used ribbon on the handles to make it easily recognizable.  On our last night, we would pass it on to another family who was turning in their rented stroller.  I cannot imagine how uncomfortable those rented, plastic strollers must be after you’ve been in them a while!  When the baby needs a stroller break, put him in a halter or backpack.  It will keep your hands free and allow him to look around instead of up.  He will surely be fascinated with all the new sights and sounds.

Become familiar with the location of the Infant Care Centers located inside of each park. (Magic Kingdom – next to the Crystal Palace; Epcot – inside the Odyssey Center in Future World; Hollywood Studios – in the Guest Services building inside the park entrance; Animal Kingdom – behind Creature Comforts in the Discovery Island area.)  They are a great place to sit and take a break if your son becomes overstimulated or just needs a rest.  If you are breastfeeding and looking for solitude, this is one of the few private places you will find within the parks.

If you are unable to ride an attraction because of the baby’s age, ask to participate in the Rider Switch Program.  You will find this option available at most rides which use the fast pass system.  Mention to the cast member at the ride entrance that you would like to get a rider switch ticket and you can get on the ride when your husband gets off.  This is a great alternative to waiting in the same line twice!

Make sure that you bring all the diapers and baby supplies that you think you will need… and then some!  Of course Disney stocks baby essentials but they will cost you a fortune.

If you are anything like me when my first child was born, you pride yourself in your child’s schedule.  Feeding, naps, and bedtime – you could set your watch to it.  Do yourself a favor and say no to schedules!  Your son will sleep when he is tired and eat when he is hungry.  It will amaze you that he will sleep through parades, fireworks and every other distraction that you thought would keep him up. He will sleep in the stroller and while you hold him. If you are lucky, he may even sleep through your dinner!  It really only takes a few days back at home to get him back on schedule.  (When you have your second child, they will never have the advantage of a set schedule and somehow they all seem to turn out fine!)

Make sure you get the all-important photo with the Mouse!  Even if he starts to cry when you hold him next to Mickey (think about it … a 6 foot tall rodent!), it is a snapshot that you will never be able to duplicate.  Sometimes I think the ones with the screaming infants are cuter than the smiles.

My last piece of advice to you comes with a word of warning.  The Food and Wine Festival is a great time to explore foods and spices from different cultures. If, however, you are breastfeeding, all those spices may not be enjoyed as much by your son.  There is nothing worse than having a great taste of a different country then having a screaming baby who won’t sleep a few hours later because he has a stomach ache and gas.  Please, if you are breastfeeding, limit your new, exotic seasonings and stay away from they really spicy food.  Your son will thank you!

Based on my experience, this year’s voyage to Walt Disney World with your adorable, completely portable 6 month old son will be the most relaxing journey you will take for years to come.  Next year when you return with an 18 month old who doesn’t want to sit in the stroller because there is so much to touch everywhere, you will reflect on just how easy traveling to Disney with a 6 month old really is!”


Darby Okamoto, Father of 2: “Taking a trip to a Disney theme park can be memorable but it’s definitely not easy, especially when you want to take your under 1 year old child with you. Kids are already a huge responsibility just at home during that time but taking them out to a Disney theme park, though memorable, can still take a lot of effort and more importantly, it takes a lot of pre-planning.  (Just FYI, I am very overprotective of my kids so I tend to go overboard but at least this advice would cover everything).

For one thing, a good travel crib that folds up is needed. Unless a parent sleeps with the child at night, most children have started to learn to sleep on their own around 3 months old. I have always been a stickler for routine and both my kids started sleeping on their own by 3 months. Thus, for any overnight trip, we had a to bring a travel crib with us. A favorite blanket and sleeping toy would also help as well.

I would also make sure there is a small fridge in the hotel room to store food and breast milk (or formula milk). Also important are sunblock (we use Aveena with 75% UV protection), a hat (extra protection from heat), a stroller with a shade (you won’t believe the number of strollers I have seen at Disney parks with no shade cover!), a small cooler to have with the stroller to bring extra formula (or breast milk) and food (if they are eating food yet), a change of clothes (you never know! wet rides, throw up, food or milk spills, etc), obviously plenty of diapers (I usually carry about 10 to 15 diapers just in case. They usually last the whole day), diaper rash cream (I usually put it on in the morning before we go to the parks. That way it can also PREVENT rash from appearing), at least 2 to 3 packages of baby wipes (they aren’t just for wiping butts you know. You have to clean any surface like dining tables. You never know who touched it before them!) and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS allow time in the early afternoon to go back to your hotel to take a nap!!! I don’t care how many days you have in the parks, you NEED to give your child (and probably your spouse) a nap in the early afternoon. I would say between 1 and 2. That should last till about 4. Because I am a local, that was not quite as easy since we had no hotel room so I found a good quiet shady spot for them to sleep. My wife at the time slept on a bench while the baby slept in his stroller. After that, you should be able to go the rest of the day.

That pretty much covers it. Soft soled shoes in case you want to let your child walk around somewhere. Always keep your camera handy. One last pointer…I don’t think it would be wise to let your kids see fireworks. Loud booms tend to either scare them or make them cry. My kids are now 5 and 2 and they STILL hate fireworks…I hope they don’t get firework-phobia or something. Anyways, enjoy your trip to the Disney theme parks and keep listening to the WDW Radio Show!!!


Christy Viszoki, Mother of 3: “I traveled to Walt Disney World with 5 month old twins and had a wonderful time with them and have amazing photos I will treasure always of their first trip.

My fellow contributors have given terrific advice about the logistics of enjoying the trip with a baby, so I am going to add some of my reflections from the point of a view of a sappy mom; they aren’t practical suggestions per se, but thoughts from the heart.

My first recommendation is to think about the photo opportunities you really want to get with the baby and plan out how to get those.  Years from now, when you are telling your son about his first trip, it will be through pictures that you make the memories come alive for him.  Remember if you want him to have his first set of ears and to wear them in pictures to get them first thing!

This trip will also be the start of the traditions you establish as a family.  Will you want him to say ‘I have had a Mickey Pop on every trip since I was six months old?’   Will you want to say you ALWAYS ride the train around the Magic Kingdom?  Think about the things you have enjoyed as a couple and try to find ways to make them a family activity which will become a cherished family ritual for vacations in the future.

Also, if you are traveling with extended family, have a frank conversation with them about how this trip will be different from those in the past.  It might seem like that should be obvious, but avoid potential frustrations by spelling out the expectations.  Explain your priorities, tell them you will be going slower, and let them ‘off the hook’ (‘You don’t have to walk around with us the whole time.   It’s your vacation, too. Let’s meet at Chef Mickey’s so you can see him meet Mickey for the first time.’)

I’m so excited for you to have the experience of sharing Disney with your little boy for the first time.  Please let us know how the trip was when you return!”


Have you been to Walt Disney World with a baby?  Do you have any other advice you would add?

7 Responses to "WDW Radio Exchange: Bringing a Baby to WDW"

  1. Nicole says:

    I have a few things to add as well. I have taken both my daughter to the world as young as a year old. And they loved every second of it. But I have also learned a few things along the way as well. Pack some of the pedialyte power packets with you. With my oldest the simple fact that the water changed and she was getting sick. It is easy to bring into the parks and you do not have to throw it away 24 hours after opening like the bottled ones.
    We also used our own stroller when they were little, beside the fact that you know how to pack it well it has the smell that the baby is use to and may calm them down if they get too cranky. But now since our girls are older were just going to rent one through Orlando stroller rentals and just carry the girls in there ergos through the airport if we need to.
    One thing I wish I would have know was that there are outside rental company’s like kingdom strollers that will rent you a crib. With bedding and all. My oldest was 15 months and trying to sleep in the pack and play and we were going to be there for 8 days i felt bad for her. If I would have know I could have gotten her a real crib it would have made the world of difference. And they will drop off and pick up the crib for you as well.
    Now my girls are 5 and 2 and love fire works but not the noise, or the bright light change. So we spent 7 dollars each and picked up headphones from the sports dept at your local super store. Between those and sun glasses the girls love watching them, ok they look odd but their smiling. On our last trip our little one was just over a year and was sleeping through the fire works when a couple that was next to us were having problems with there 4 year due to the noise and bright lights of the fire works. So we let them try out the head phones and glasses idea since she was not using them. It worked he stopped crying and wanted to watch them again. The parents and his older sisters were glad that they did not have to leave and they were going to the store in the morning to get him some.
    We also would send a box down with extra clothing and baby items ie baby food, clothing blankets. The prices at Disney are high and the choices for baby food are few so unless you have a car this will be a better idea. The only problem is unless you have a car is getting the box back to the ups store to send it back, but it will save you from over packing your own bags.
    I have also made special Disney lovies for my girls. Their real lovies were not allowed out of the hotel room. So I found Disney fabric and soft fabric and made them each 5 or 6 lovies and we came home with about two each. They get dropped or stained or just left some where that way you are not hunting at night to find the all important lovie.
    We also started when my oldest was 2 I was looking for a way to have her information on her in-case she got lost with out having to write her name on everything. So before we left we took a large packing label and printed her name and age and any allergies she might have as well as all the phone numbers of family she was with. As well as who they were to her ie mommy (Nicole Jolley). This way if she got lost then she could just show a cast member who she was. She helped put stickers and stuff on the front of a 3×5 index card and we put the label on the back of that. We bought the self laminating sheets and a lanyard added pins and done. She was showing it off to every cast member we talked to. I loved the idea cause if we left the parks she did not have to wear the lanyard and her clothing was not marked as well. She loves this idea and helps me change the info and the front of her badge every time we go.
    Hope these ideas help.

  2. Melanie says:

    Great advice from all parents. I agree, the baby care centers are fabulous. Especially nice when you are nursing (very nice nursing areas in the baby care centers). There were a few times I didn’t get to the baby care center, and just found a secluded place in the park to nurse. Nobody around me was the wiser, and I faced no issues. We used our own stroller when he was an infant (less than 6 months). When he was older we started renting from Magic Strollers. I also used my baby wrap when he was little, and then my carrier when he was bigger. I really can’t add much more to what the other parents have mentioned. They covered most of it. However, I will add this. If you happen to be at WDW around the time your child will need their first haircut, I highly recommend having it done at Harmony Barbershop in the Magic Kingdom. You can now do reservations at Harmony, but we have never done them and never have an issue getting in for a hair cut. The first haircut package is great. For around $15.00 you get the first haircut, a certificate, locks of hair wrapped in tissue and secured with a Mickey sticker, and mouse ears embroidered with “First Haircut” on them. Our little guy didn’t cry once during his first haircut.Penny, the cast member who cut his hair did a great job at keeping him entertained. The Dapper Dans also sang in the barber shop while he was there, and that also kept our guy distracted. It is a great memory and a great way to commemorate our child’s first haircut. We also like to go back to Harmony each time we go the WDW and get our guy’s hair cut. It has become a tradition.

  3. Fran says:

    I have had both breastfed and bottle fed babies at WDW.

    I wanted to clarify that Florida law allows breastfeeding in public. I have found that going to Disney with a nursing ends up being an education in breastfeeding in public. More often than not, you’re no where near the baby centers when they need to eat. It turns out that there are plenty of discrete or out of the way spots if you’re not comfortable in the open. I was certainly much better at it by the end of the week!

    If you are bottle feeding, I suggest getting a room with a microwave and bringing some of those microwave sterilization bags (Medela makes some). That worked for us.

    Be flexible, slow down, and you’ll be fine.

  4. Beth says:

    Great Blog Post! Fantastic advice for traveling with infants. I am a mom of 2 boys. My eldest took his first trip to the World at 8 months and my youngest at 7 months. This post brought me back. Good Times!

    On the topic of feeding:
    If you’re using formula – Enjoy! You will be living the life of luxury, feeding your baby whenever and wherever he gets peckish. Really does make it easier.

    If you’re a nursing mom, definitely take advantage of those baby care centers. They really are lovely respites with excellent changing stations, quiet nursing rooms, caring staff, and essential (yet expensive) items for purchase. However, there is only one in each park. If you are on the other end of the park and your baby is getting hungry, it can be a little tough to make it to that baby center before you reach DefCon 1. Here are some spots I’ve found to be particularly good for nursing with the use of a baby blanket/nursing cover-up for minimal notice.

    MAGIC KINGDOM:
    – 2nd Floor of the Train Station facing Main Street during non-parade times. Usually quiet with seating
    – sitting in the back row of shows like Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, even the Country Bear Jamboree. Most of the other theater shows tend to be on the loud side.
    – on the WedWay People Mover / TTA / What is it officially called now? Regardless, it’s a great place.
    -The second floor of Columbia Harbor House Restaurant at non-meal times.

    EPCOT
    – Spaceship Earth was just MADE for nursing. Long, slow, dark ride. Dame Judy Dench lulls your little one into sweet slumber. Works like a charm every time.
    – The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends. Lots of dark corners to sit without much notice.
    – American Adventure show. An awesome show that is 30 minutes long. Great spot.
    – Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico Pavilion.

    DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
    – Movie at the end of One Man’s Dream.
    – Voyage of the Little Mermaid – does get a little loud, but works ok.

    ANIMAL KINGDOM
    – Toughest Park – not many solid choices here. I had to poke around to find quiet shady spots to sit. Best thing was to find a quiet corner of a restaurant during non-meal times.

    Enjoy your trip! I know it is hard to imagine now, but seriously, this “infant trip” will be a cake walk compared to your future “toddler trip.” ;o) Have a great time!

  5. Becca says:

    It is legal to breastfeed anywhere in Florida.

    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx

    Fla. Stat. § 383.015 (1993) allows a mother to breastfeed in any public or private location. (HB 231)
    Fla. Stat. § 383.016 (1994) authorizes a facility lawfully providing maternity services or newborn infant care to use the designation “baby-friendly” on its promotional materials. The facility must be in compliance with at least eighty percent of the requirements developed by the Department of Health in accordance with UNICEF and World Health Organization baby-friendly hospital initiatives. (SB 1668)
    Fla. Stat. § 800.02 et seq. and § 827.071 exclude breastfeeding from various sexual offenses, such as lewdness, indecent exposure and sexual conduct.
    Fla. Stat. § 847.0135 (5) (d) (2008) excludes a mother breastfeeding her baby from the offense of lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer. (2008 Fla. Laws, Chap. 172, SB 1442)

  6. Beth says:

    I just thought a couple more good spots for nursing. . .

    – Circle of Life show at Land Pavilion at Epcot
    – Great Movie Ride at MGM – again nice and long. It does get noisy at times so if your baby is easily disturbed by noise this one may be iffy.
    – Haunted Mansion – I asked to skip the stretching room and hop right on the doom buggies. Nice and cool and dark.
    – Lots of nooks and crannies in World Showcase especially in the earlier part of the day (Morocco is usually pretty quiet.)

    Honestly, even when I nursed on a walkway bench I never received any harassment or disapproving looks. Everyone is so absorbed in their vacations and looking at all the wonderful sights that I barely received a passing glance. Whenever someone did notice it was usually a fellow mom with a knowing nod. I certainly can’t guarantee that that will be your experience, but that was mine (2 trips while nursing.)

    Non-Nursing Tip – ZipLoc Bags! Pack your babies outfits in ZipLoc Bags (quart size work great for this age) Keeps your suitcases and diaperbag clutter free, just grab and go, and it give you a place to safely store any dirty items.

  7. Linda says:

    OH what a Magical Time….I have heard people at the Parks saying,,why do people bring babies so small,,,,well our son took his irst of many trips , when he was 6 months old, and while at the time he may not have know what was going on,,he is now 30 years old and LOVES looking at the pictures from way back then. The pictures are priceless, a smile that lights up his whole face in every one. Yes you will need a little more time or diaper changes, and feedings, but a small price to pay. I wont go into all the EXTRA clothes, etc you may want to bring that has been gone over, what i will say is this is going to be a special time you will NEVER forget. We went on a number of rides and shows and did not miss the roller coaster rides, (if you dont mind going by yourself you could switch off) The ONLY problem we had the whole week, was when the Main Street Electrical Parade started, he was scared by the loud music,,,,Have a WONDERFUL time..and enjoy this MAGICAL Trip…

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