November of 2017 was my last Walt Disney World trip without kids. I’ve always loved seeing families with cute little ones walking around Disney and wondered when that would be me. Well, I had my first child a mere 11 months after that trip, and I could not wait to bring him to Walt Disney World (and yes, the trip was booked months prior to his birth). Even though I’d been going to Disney all the time, I now found myself very nervous contemplating how different our trip would be with a 5 month old.
Here are some of things I learned while being in Disney with my baby.
The extensive plans you used to make…throw them out of the window.
Long gone are the days of having every second of every day planned out perfectly. Going to the park from opening to park close also goes out the window. Your baby is experiencing something brand new, and it can be quite overwhelming. First flights and time changes are even more variables are something you might be dealing with. Your vacation is no longer your own – your little bundle of joy now dictates what time you can go to the park, when you leave, and even what you do.
Try to book dining at reasonable times for your baby with little crowds.
This will be dependent on your child’s age. If your child is still taking bottles or breastfeeding, might you have a bit more flexibility. I spent a few dinners feeding my child while eating a delicious dinner. If your child is old enough to have purees or solids, adding a highchair to the table is a whole new ball game. Make sure you have plenty of toys, games, or videos for your child since Disney dining sometimes takes a little bit longer. Keeping your child as relatively close to on schedule is important to prevent any unnecessary meltdowns.
New environments = New issues
If your child is used to being at home with no extra noises, Disney will be a major change. My son was very engaged and interested in seeing everything, but the sounds were often a bit much. The Maleficent music during the Festival of Fantasy parade scared my little one, and feeling the heat of the fire definitely gave him a shock. Remember that all of this is new to them and that any reaction they have is because of that. If your child responds poorly to loud noises, don’t pick a front seat at a show. You might consider hearing protection for your child, but test it first before deploying it in the park.
Disney has great Baby Care Centers!
You may know Disney inside and out, but one thing you may have missed are their Baby Care Centers. Each of the parks has a Baby Care Center for those with young children. In the centers, you will find changing tables, a kitchen with a microwave and sink, quiet nursing rooms with comfortable seating, a main room with a TV playing Disney cartoons, and items for sale like diapers, wipes, food, etc. These places are great to cool off in and take a break from the sensory overload of crowds and noise. The Magic Kingdom Baby Care Center is located next to The Crystal Palace. In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it is located next to Creature Comforts. In Epcot, it is located in the Odyssey Center next to the Mexico pavilion. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a Baby Care Center located right behind the main entrance off to the left.
Remember that you are at a place where children are appreciated and celebrated.
The most magical place on earth is for everyone of all ages. Baby crying? Chances are that no one hears it over the music, sounds, and other aspects of the parks. Napped through dinner? Not a big deal. Your child might not remember their first Disney trip, but you will never forget it. Permanently in my mind are the images of my 5 month old petting Tigger and screaming and crying while riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Remember that there are still plenty of rides for your child to ride on! Disney with kids is not easiest thing to do, and it might feel like more work than vacation, but it’s entirely worth it! Don’t forget to laugh and enjoy yourself regardless – you’re doing great!