My Mom Made That: Traveling to Disney with a Nursing Infant: Part 2

If you read my post from a few days ago, you’ll recall that Frog, Monkey and I just got back from Disney World. It was Monkey’s first trip, and my first time traveling with a nursing infant.  I learned a few things during my days at the parks, and realized as I was writing the first post that it would be better to break things up into 2 separate posts.  Please know that there are hundreds of great Disney resources out there, just one little Google search away.  I strongly encourage people to utilize these resources, as I’m continually learning new things about the Magical World of Disney.

My Mom Made That: Traveling to Disney World with a Nursing Infant Part 2
Frog and I both love Epcot.  It’s my favorite park, and I think I have probably done everything in this park, except for a few of the special, extra cost adventures.  They just reopened Test Track, and I didn’t get to try it out, as I was nursing Monkey.  Frog went on the ride twice, using my spare Fastpass, and he said the ride was even better than before!  Can anyone confirm his story of it being faster and more exciting?

Now on to things I’ve learned (AKA My Tips):

It’s about Quality Versus Quantity: You won’t see everything at Disney during your 3-6 days there.  Promise.  Even if you spend ever moment the parks are open at the parks themselves.  Unfortunately, there are so many parents who worry that their trip will be ruined if they don’t fill all 5 days of their Disney Vacation with stimulation and thrilling rides.   They are trying to do it all.  I still haven’t seen everything there is to do, and I found that with Monkey in tow, our pace was far more leisurely.  When I went a few years ago with just MM, I was able to organize my “attack” on Magic Kingdom, and ride all my favorites, at least once, sometimes twice.  It was mapped out the night before, and we knew how to move quickly from land to land, and how to organize our ride sequence effectively (and yes, there is a way to do that, so you get lots of good, fast rides in, but that’s another post!)

Heading to the parks with an itty-bitty, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I accepted that before we rolled in the first day.  We were going for the experience, and to enjoy ourselves.  I would encourage all parents of little guys to come to terms with that before you hit the pavement.  I spent time being mindful of the special moments with Monkey and Frog.  For example, Frog and I fed Monkey a taste of ice cream there.  Yes, I wasn’t planning on giving him any, but he was squawking and reaching for our ice cream cones.  I’ll forever be able to tell Monkey that he had his first taste of vanilla ice cream on Main Street USA, in the Magic Kingdom.  That’s pretty special to me.  I also enjoyed waiting in lines with Monkey.  He loved getting to see all of the people and flirt with them.  It was an entirely different experience when I tried to see the world from his point of view!

Divide Your Day Into Thirds:  This is a piece of advice I learned from a number of Disney veterans before I first took Frog to Disney World.  When traveling with kiddos, I strongly believe that this is the best way to go, particularly if you are staying at a Disney Resort.  Each night before going to bed, determine what park you are going to and when it will open.  Then divide your day into 3 4-hour segments.  The first segment is park time, the second segment is down time, and the third segment is park time.  For example, let’s say that the Magic Kingdom opens at 8am, your day would look like:
8am to 12pm: Fun time at Magic Kingdom, arriving right as the park opens
12pm to 4pm: Lunch, nap and pool time
4pm to 8pm: Fun time at Magic Kingdom, or another park.

There are lots of variants of this type of day, and depending on the age of your children and your dining plans, you’ll need to adjust accordingly, but splitting the day into thirds works wonderfully.  This is particularly true if you are visiting in the summer when the middle part of the day is the hottest.  Going back to nap, recharge and swim in a cool pool can be so refreshing– particularly if you are trying to make it to the nighttime fireworks.

Don’t Get Distracted and Forget to Nurse! I’m a pretty experienced nursing mother. I’ve exclusively breastfed two children now. I made it to 18 months with Frog, and we’re at nearly the 6 month mark with Monkey.  I’d like to think that I’m aware of Monkey’s cues for hunger, and my body’s cues that it’s been a while since he nursed.  Unfortunately, both Monkey and I got distracted by all of the excitement and stimulation that is Disney.  Plus, we were in a new environment and on a completely different schedule.  What ended up happening on the first day was that I would start to get engorged, and Monkey would end up famished before he would “hoot” at me to eat.  Now that I know better, I think it would have been easier to keep track of the time that he ate, and use that time to determine when I would next need to take a nursing break.

My Mom Made That: Disney Ride with Infant

Be Prepared:  The Boy Scout motto is so very applicable here.  Pack up your diaper bag carefully and thoughtfully the night before you head out to the parks.  The evenings can be cool in the spring and fall, so bring a light weight jacket and/or blanket for the baby.  I packed a fuzzy hat in case Monkey got cold, and a sun hat for the midday sunshine.   Also, SUNSCREEN!  I’m horrible about remembering  to do that with Frog because he rarely burns, but now that I’ve got an infant again, I needed to be more careful.  One extra tip about that:  Cover the soles of little babies’ feet– they can burn, and if your baby is like Monkey, with those chubby little bare feet dangling off a stroller, even the bottoms are a risk.  We packed lots of wet ones.  I love the Johnson and Johnson Hand and Face wipes for babies that are alcohol free.  I packed Purrell for the rest of us– I did have someone point out how germy the parks were.

I also packed my nursing shawl, as I prefer to be covered when nursing in public.  Monkey is very used to nursing under the shawl, and actually seems to like it as it darkens the environment and relaxes him.  At Disney, with the heat, he seemed to become a little clammy/overheated under there, so he’d bat the thing away.  It could also be that he LOVED watching all of the action at Disney.

Expect Lines at the Changing Tables:  This is one that I should have realized, but was surprised by.  Sometimes I found that the lines in the Ladies Room weren’t for the potty, but for the changing table!  The lines could be really long, and for me, I got a little grossed out by watching eight poopy diapers get changed immediately before I put Monkey on the changing table.   Each night I scrubbed his portable changing pad with Lysol before repacking it.  There were a couple of things I figured out.  First, Fantasy Land in Magic Kingdom is the worst for diaper changes because it is filled with lots of children under the age of 5.  Second, “table service” restaurants can have better bathroom lines, in terms of both potty usage and changing table usage.  In Epcot, I’m partial to the restroom in Nine Dragons in China.  There is also a good one in Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco.

Baby Care Centers are awesome!  I saved my best new tip for last!  I knew these places existed, but I didn’t go in them before, as we didn’t take Frog to Disney until he was five.  They were my favorite ride in any of the parks.  If you need anything for a baby, this is where you should head.  You can buy diapers, wipes, juice, baby food, formula, pacifiers, sunscreen and children’s over-the-counter medicines there.  More importantly for nursing mothers, you can nurse in a darkened room, in a rocking care, in air-conditioning with white noise!  It was heaven.  When I started feeling like we both needed a break, I would tell everyone to proceed without us, and we’d take a break in the nursing room in the Baby Care Center.

If you are traveling with a slightly older infant or young toddler who needs a cool, quiet break from the chaos of the parks, you can also go into the Baby Care Center.  There are rooms for feeding older babies and toddlers, and a baby friendly play area.

Oh, and before I forget… there are gorgeous, safe, clean changing tables in the Baby Care Center.  Heaven in the Parks for a mom and baby!

A Few Tips for Moms with Slightly Older Children, from my Experience with Frog:

  • Take advantage of the play areas in the parks when the kiddos get tired of walking and standing in lines.  In the Hollywood Studios, I highly recommend the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Area.  Frog can play in there for hours, now and when he was five.  In Epcot, there are usually a few playground set up, particularly during the Flower and Garden Festival.  It’s nice to get a little mommy down time, and give Frog a chance to burn off some energy. (This is also why I think a midday pool break is great for kiddos and parents alike.)
  • Teach your children what to do if they get lost! As a Den Leader for Cub Scouts, I have taught all of the boys in my den to memorize their parents’ cell phone, starting in first grade.  I made Frog learn my cell phone number at age 5.  If you are worried about them knowing your number or have preschoolers, try buying something like SafetyTats (or use a Sharpie!)  Second, talk about what your child should do if s/he gets lost.  Frog knows that he should go find the nearest woman (as the probability of a woman being a predator is astronomically low), and tell her that he is lost and needs assistance in reaching me.  He knows that he shouldn’t run around looking for me, but stop where he is, and immediately identify the first woman around.  At the age of 7, Frog got lost in a stadium.  I turned my back for a second, and we got separated in the crowd.    I was running around frantic, but within 3 minutes, my cell phone was ringing, and I heard Frog on the other end, “Mommy I got lost.  I’m standing with security and a lady right now.”  The security guard then told me exactly where they were– which was not the direction that I was running!  Frog knew what to do, and stayed calm.  He solved the crisis, not me!   I was extremely proud!

So there are my tips!  Have a magical trip to Disney.  It is, without a doubt, the happiest place on earth!

I’m sharing my tips at: