Did you bring your babies to Walt Disney World or did you wait until they were a little older? Everyone has their own list of reasons for when their child will take their first trip to Disney. For us, our boys each went at 9 months old and our daughter went at 6 months old.
We didn’t really start out thinking, “We’re going to take our kids to Disney at _____ age.” Our decision to take our oldest son at 9 months really came about because our extended family decided to take a vacation together and that’s the best time that worked. Our second son also had his first trip at 9 months old because we tend to travel to Disney in January and he was born the previous April. Our daughter’s first trip was at 6 months old for the same reason – she was born at the end of June and we went on our regular vacation the following January. So, did we think these ages were good or would we have changed them if given the option? Keep reading for our experiences and I’ll share some of the things we learned along the way.
I personally think they were great ages. The kids were old enough to hold their heads up and sit up, which made riding in a stroller easier. If they were younger, we would have had to bring our infant carrier car seat and a compatible stroller. We were able to get by with our regular Combi stroller, which is slightly bigger than an umbrella stroller, but also folds quickly and has a shoulder carrying strap – perfect for the Disney buses. Being able to sit up also makes the trip more exciting for them, as they are able to look around at all the bright colors and hustle and bustle that goes on in a theme park. At that age, our kids weren’t scared of the characters, so we’ve got some great photos of them interacting together. And when they’re young (albeit not as young as 6 months), they still believe in the magic of Disney. It’s so fun to see them getting to meet their favorite characters in real life!
If you have older kids, it’s going to be hard to find that perfect age for everyone – before the older child is too old and when the younger child is old enough. This is yet another reason that I would recommend going ahead and taking them early.
Another great thing about bringing babies? They’re free! You pay to fly at age 2 and to get into Disney at age 3. At most Disney buffets and family-style meals, your under-3-year-old can eat for free as well.
Now, for a few “downsides.” With younger children, you will need to use a stroller in the parks. During parades or when trying to get out after fireworks at night, it can get difficult to push a stroller through the park. But overall, we really enjoy having one. It’s nice to have a place to store your stuff and to know that your child has a place to rest.
And speaking of rest – don’t forget that your child will still need naps even though you’re on vacation. In fact, they may even sleep a little more because of all the stimulation to their senses. You’ll have to decide if you need to go back to the hotel for a break or if your little one can nap in the stroller. When our kids were babies, we normally did a combination of the two and took some afternoons back at the hotel and some days letting them nap in the stroller in a quiet corner of the park. If you plan on having your child nap in the stroller, make sure it’s one that can recline. The younger your child is, it may be easier to get them to sleep in the parks, especially if they will sleep in a baby carrier curled up against you. Though not entirely impossible, this is much less likely the older they get.
The other biggie to consider when bringing babies is all the “gear” they come with. If you’re not nursing, you’ll have to bring diapers, bottles, formula, sippy cups and possibly baby food with you. Our plan of attack was to bring one backpack with one or two empty bottles, a bottle or two of water, formula packets and some baby food with us each day. Instead of packing all of that in our suitcases from home, we ordered a shipment from Amazon and had it delivered to our hotel. We normally packed diapers in our luggage, because once those were used, we would have that spare room for souvenirs. Of course, all this gets easier the older your child gets, but it’s definitely doable if you plan ahead.
Because Florida can get hot, you’ll have to plan ahead with cool outfits and plenty of shade from the sun for your baby (and a rain cover for those crazy afternoon showers!). If your baby is younger than 6 months, they can’t use sunscreen yet, so make sure you have good protection for the stroller, as well as for when you’re carrying them. This also includes their feet – a lot of babies don’t wear shoes yet and their little feet stick out of the stroller into the sun.
So, what do I think is the perfect age? I think it’s whatever works for your family. We loved the ages that we took our kids, but if the opportunity had come up to take them earlier, we absolutely would have done it. I think it’s not just about the memories they’re making for themselves, but it’s also about your memories of their childhood. Even though our kids won’t remember their first trips, I always will. Seeing the joy on their faces was priceless to me and I’m so glad I will always have those memories of my babies at Disney World.