Spotlight: Babies on Vacation
Traveling with a child under the age of two can seem daunting but it can be done! You will survive, I promise. It definitely requires a bit more planning than traveling with older children but there’s no reason that your little one can’t enjoy vacation too. Doing your homework and being prepared is the key to less stress as well as being flexible with your plans. Disney Parks are sensitive to the needs of parents with infants and toddlers and offer many amenities that will help to make your vacations go smoother even when things go awry.
Disney offers Baby Care Centers at all 4 parks in Disney World and the 2 parks of Disneyland. These are staffed and available during all regular park hours. The facilities are complimentary and offer a variety of amenities. You have access to private nursing rooms, a kitchen with feeding area and high chairs. There is also a main room with a television complete with table chairs and sofa for the rest of the family while you are taking care of your baby. Forgot to pack something? They have a small shop where you can purchase formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen and over the counter medications. The Baby Care Center is a great place to escape, especially on hot days and care for your child while being refreshed before heading back out into the parks.
Changing stations are located in most bathrooms throughout the parks, water parks, resort hotels and shopping areas. Hotel gift shops usually carry diapers although the selection can be limited. We arrived at the Animal Kingdom very late after flying in and realized we left our grandson’s pull-ups at home. Even though the gift shop was closed (it was close to midnight) the front desk clerk was able to find us one to get us through the night until the gift shop opened in the morning. They will do their best to help so always ask!
Disney requires that children that wear diapers must wear plastic pants or swim diapers in the pool areas. This applies to resort pools and the water parks. If you forgot to pack swim diapers, the water parks and resort hotel gift shops usually have packs for purchase.
Vacationing with infants and toddlers is like packing up a traveling circus! Disney is prepared for just about anything you might forget. The Baby Care Centers carry all the basic necessities like diapers, formula, baby food and wipes. If you have a major infant “wardrobe malfunction”, they have something in every size. Certainly, it is more cost effective to make sure you bring it with you but in a pinch, you are covered. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can request a high chair or crib from the front desk. All the resorts have laundry facilities which can be a lifesaver with little ones. You can even go online to see if there are washing machines available before you trek down here! Disney Deluxe Villas at WDW with one or more bedrooms have an in-room washer and dryer. Did the baby spit up on your formal dress? They can handle that too. Disney resort hotels also offer dry cleaning and valet laundry services.
Some things that people may not think of but are good to pack when bringing infants are:
Sunscreen and Sun Protective Hats
Stroller cover in the event of rain or to block the sun
Clip On Stroller Fan
Insulated pouch for cold snacks and drinks
Something unique to identify your stroller (just like your suitcase at the airport, they all look alike- a big bright bow on your handle or something distinctive goes a long way.
Are you traveling by plane and don’t want to pack 20 pounds of baby food in your suitcase? You can have groceries delivered to your WDW hotel! There are several in the Orlando area that allow you to shop online and have it waiting for you when you arrive. Check out Garden Grocer (www.gardengrocer.com) and Wegoshop (www.wegoshop.com). Always check with your hotel first before ordering to make sure they can accept delivery. Of course there’s always Amazon, but you will need to check with the front desk of your hotel as to how they need your package addressed so it makes it to you. Keep in mind that Disney doesn’t allow glass to be brought into the park. If you have a car with you, there are lots of great grocery stores in close proximity to the parks.
Photo Credit: DisneyParks.com
Rides for babies
Babies are welcome to participate on any attractions that say “Any Height” in the description. There are things to do in every park! In the Magic Kingdom this includes: the Jungle Cruise, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, the Tiki Room, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Enchanted Tales with Belle, It’s a Small World, the Mad Tea Party, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, the Walt Disney Railroad andBuzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin to name a few. Babies are welcome at the many shows and theater type of attractions in all the parks like the Hall of Presidents, Mickey’s Philharmagic and Turtle Talk with Crush. For a complete list of baby friendly attractions check here:
Rider Switch Program
Have you ever been to a park with your family and there is a ride that someone in your group is too small to ride or doesn’t want to, so someone has to stay behind while the rest of the group rides but the person caring for the “littles” never gets to ride? Disney has a solution for that called the Rider Switch! To do a Rider Switch, your entire party goes to a cast member at a FastPass+ entrance and tell them you’d like to do a rider swap (you will need to see if that ride offers Rider Swap). They will provide you with a slip of paper that is good to return to that ride later. One adult gets in line with the riders while the other adult stays with the non-riders. After riding, the pass is given to the adult who didn’t ride and they swap places. The pass is good for two riders (so you can experience the fun with someone else from your group). You then present your Rider Switch Pass to a cast member and you don’t have to wait in the regular line. The Rider Switch works for the all the roller coasters in the parks and the more intense rides that smaller kids aren’t tall enough to ride. For a complete list check here:
I have a love hate relationship with strollers. A necessary evil when travelling with little people who just could never handle the amount of walking that a Disney vacation presents. There are many options for using a stroller in the parks. Obviously, you can bring your own. This can be helpful because you have it on hand at the airport to use until you board. If you choose to bring your own, it’s helpful to have one that folds quickly and easily. We purchased a lightweight, quality umbrella type stroller that partially reclines for napping and has a shade specifically to use for Disney. It can be folded with one hand free (because hey, when do you ever have two hands free?). It was simple to maneuver in crowds and easy to pick up and carry when needed.
Second, you can rent strollers in the parks. Inside the gates in all the parks are stroller rental stations. They are $15 a day for singles and $31 per day for doubles. You can only use them in the park where you rent them but save your receipt if you want to park hop on the same day, you can pick up a stroller in the next park. They offer a discount of a couple dollars if you purchase multi-days.
Another option is to rent a stroller from an Orlando company like Magic Strollers, Kingdom Strollers and Orlando Stroller Rental. This is a better deal if you are renting at least 3 days. They will deliver the stroller you choose (there are several styles to choose from) directly to your hotel. That way you can use it everywhere, not just in the park which can be a lifesaver since the resorts are large and the walk back to your room after a long day in the parks can feel like the last leg of a marathon! They will even drop it off and pick up at a different hotel.
Keep in mind when choosing a stroller to use at Disney that if you are using the resort buses, all strollers must be folded before boarding and you must hold your stroller while on board. You cannot prop it up somewhere. I’ve seen so many parents with a mammoth double stroller that is just a nightmare to try to continually open and close to get on the buses. Practice at home before you go and see if you can manage it well before taking it on vacation. It will save you a lot of headaches!
Do you have a small child that you would like to be cared for while you go out for nice quiet meal with your significant other (a quiet meal? What’ that?) in your hotel room? Disney World has contracted with Kid’s Nite Out and they have been their exclusive child care provider since 2001. If your child is at least 6month old to 12 years old, you can go online and submit a request to reserve a spot and learn more about the service they provide. They meet Disney’s high standards and their sitters have passed background checks, reference checks and interviews. The basic rates are $18 an hour for the first child and $3.00 an hour for each additional child and a $10 transportation fee. Some other fees may apply so check with the website when you make your reservation. There is a 4 hour minimum and there is no limit to the amount of hours used. They are available 24 hours a day! Full details are available at www.kidsniteout.com.
Just need an extra hand while in the parks? They can do that too! If you are in Disneyland and staying at a one of the resort hotels on property, you need to check with the front desk of that hotel for information about in room babysitting. Disney contracts with third party providers for this service. Prices can be obtained through your hotel.
Photo credit DisneyParks.com
We all want our little ones to be safe. Normally this means keeping infants and toddlers secured in a car seat but when you’re on vacation, you don’t always have one with you, especially if your family came by plane. Car seats are not allowed on the resort buses since there are no seat belts to secure them. Small children should be secured on your lap or in the seat next to you. A car seat is not needed on Disney’s Magical Express (some of the buses have shoulder belts and some do not) and are not allowed on the monorail and boats. While you are at Walt Disney World, you can use the Minnie Van Service (operated by Lyft) that uses the bright red polka dot minivans that are equipped with two car seats in each. There are some limitations where you can get them and where they go so check in advance. If you prefer to have your kids in car seats, your best bet is to rent a car for your stay and request car seats when making your reservation. Be aware that rental companies cannot guarantee the history of the car seats they provide for safety.
U.S. Public Health Service requires that only children who are toilet trained are permitted to enter swimming pools and spas. This includes hot tubs and water slides and applies to all ships.
Disney welcomes children 6 month old and above on their ships. On Transatlantic and Panama Canal itineraries, children must be 1 year old. Disney provides many amenities to families travelling with young children. You can request diaper disposals, bottle warmers and sterilizers and portable cribs (pack-n-play) for your stateroom. Restaurants have high chairs and they can prepare fresh pureed vegetables for your little one (also room service)! Need a stroller? They have those too for free. While on Castaway Cay, Disney’s amazing private island, they have complimentary wagons you can take to the beach. If you would like child care, they have extended hours in the “it’s a small world” nursery. Space is limited so they suggest that you reserve your spot online once you know when you will need it. Spots are on a first-come, first-served basis and are $9.00 an hour for the first child and $8.00 an hour for additional children. They do not offer in room babysitting. Children in diapers are allowed in splash zones only.
Photo Credit: DisneyCruiseLine.com
MSC does not have any minimum age for infants on their Caribbean sailings. They offer babysitting for 1-3 year olds during special hours at their “Mini Club” which has special times for parent/child play also. Children travel for free when in a room with two adults. MSC also offers services like the baby laundry service which is for 0-6 year olds where they will wash their clothing in a specialized machines to sanitize them and return them to your cabin the next day.
Children must be a minimum of 6 months old to cruise. Norweigan has a “Guppies” play area for children from 6 months to 3 years to have a safe are to play with their parents. Only the Norweigan Escape has a Guppies Nursery where children can be dropped off for babysitting for a fee.
The Royal Tots and Royal Babies programs provide interactive classes and activities (when children are accompanied by a parent) for children from 6 months to 36 months old, as well as drop-off babysitting service. In-cabin babysitting is available for children who are at least 1 year old called “Sitters at Sea”. Both these options incur an hourly fee. Some programs are not available on all ships so check when making your reservation.
For children under the age of 2, parents have the ability to drop off their children during
specific times, for a fee. These times are limited. Strollers are available for rent. Children must be
a minimum of 6 months old for most cruises (a year old for Transatlantic, Transpacific and
Hawaii, check for details). Carnival does not sell diapers on board.
Beaches has three Caribbean all-inclusive resorts for families:
Beaches Turks and Caicos, Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios.
They have consistently been voted as a best family resort. They have partnered with Sesame Street which will make even the littlest ones smile with stage shows, parades and activities with all their favourite characters. Beaches hires Certified Nannies who must have 2,000 hours of experience to care for your children. Their nurseries are cool and inviting which is especially important when being in the Caribbean! Here you find everything you could possibly need: cribs, strollers, high chairs and rocking chairs. They are generally open from 9am-9pm every
day so your little ones can nap and play while you get some adult time. If you prefer to have
private babysitting, that is also available for a fee.
Photo credit Beaches Resorts
Flying with infants
Airlines allow children under 2 traveling in the U.S. and it’s territories with an adult to travel on the adult’s lap free of charge (only one child per lap!). Policies may vary by airline so check for their specific policy. This does save you money, but it's important to note that babies riding in airplanes are safest riding in government-approved car seats. (The label should read, "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.") Many airlines offer discounts for infants to ride in an approved car seat in their own seat.
Jill Molas is an independent agent of Fairytale Adventures Travel. She specializes in all things Disney, Cruises and Sandals/Beaches Resorts. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through social medial @jillsjollyholiday, or at www.JillsJollyHoliday.com.