Saturday, February 15, 2020

Top Tips for Traveling with a Baby (or Toddler)

Recently, I have become the go-to tagged person to give some Disney advice for babies and toddlers. I guess it's no secret that we love Disney and do not subscribe to the "wait until they can remember it" thinking. We have taken both boys before they even turned one; Robby made it to both Disneyland and Disneyland Paris before that milestone birthday. Of course they won't remember it, but we will, and we'll have stories and pictures to share. I may be biased, because I was definitely "born and raised" Disney, but if you have the means, take the trip!

Robby in Paris!
While I could go on forever on how to make it the best trip ever, I narrowed it down to my top ten tips for traveling with babies and toddlers to a Disney resort. Let me know anything I missed!

1. Use the Baby Care Centers! These are special rooms located in each park (check the park map for exact locations). They are quiet, cool, and relaxing. I have personally nursed babies many times here, plus they have nice changing areas that are much less crazy than the regular bathrooms. You can also warm food, set your littles up in a proper high chair, and some even have small tables and chairs to let them watch a cartoon. It's a great place to go if you (or your baby) are overwhelmed by the crowds and just need to catch your breath. The staff is always so sweet! You can also pick up any forgotten baby-specific items here, such as diapers or baby food. These are definitely underutilized! Check them out!

2. Bring your stroller! I prefer to travel with my running stroller because it's so easy to move, even though it is pretty big (okay, the double BOB is huge). You might be more of a "smaller is better" person, which is fine too. No matter how much your kid loves to walk or you love to carry them, I think a stroller is just necessary. BONUS TIP: Mark your stroller with a tag, ribbon, or balloon. Did you know that they often move strollers to keep the park traffic flowing? When you exit a ride or attraction, your stroller will probably have been moved. We have a sign that we hang from the handlebar and it helps us find ours easily in a sea of strollers.

3. Baby-wear! Wait, but didn't you just say bring a stroller? Of course, but I honestly do both. Using a carrier while you wait in line or eat at a restaurant (with a napping baby) is the best! Also, for some areas of the park, like Fantasyland, we will park our stroller and walk from ride to ride. Just be sure not to leave your carrier in your stroller; I have heard many stories of sticky fingers taking carriers (so sad, I know).

4. Use rider swap! I really need a write step-by-step how to on this one, but let's just say you can double your fast passes and completely master Disney by using Rider Swap. This program lets one part of your party stay with the little ones while the other rides the thrill rides. Then, you can swap and skip the line so the other party can ride. If you're traveling in a group, the lucky ones can even ride twice. Just see a cast member at the fast pass line entrance and make sure to bring your little one along. They will ask who is going first and who will swap, scan your magic band or give you a pass, and you are ready to swap and have some fun.

5. Plan for regular nap times. If your baby is great at sleeping in a stroller, this can be a great time to get in some rides that have a height requirement. We personally have always done well with having the boys sleep either in a stroller or carrier (versus going back to the room).

6. Know your limits! I think this is more for toddlers than babies, but know when they have just had enough. We have suffered from trying to push Robby a little too much on a trip. Take breaks at the pool. Sleep in. Go to bed early. We all know Disney isn't a relaxing vacation, but find ways to make sure everyone gets enough rest to have some fun.

7. Poop bags are life! If you have a little still in diapers, pack the disposable diaper bags (the small, individual tie ones). Being in a hotel room with a poopy diaper isn't fun for anyone!

8. Pack a reusable shopping bag. If you plan to take a stroller, you will inevitably end up with junk under it, strapped to it, on top of it, etc. To board Disney buses, you have to fold the stroller. We always carry along a shopping bag, then just toss everything in there quickly before folding the stroller. It's so much easier than trying to hold everything or (worse) find a spot to put things.

Ryan's First Haircut
9. Measure your kiddos at home! There are quite a few rides that have a lower height requirement (think Mine Train, not Splash Mountain). Don't set your littles up for disappointment. Know their height, and plan accordingly. Of course, we double checked, but we knew exactly what rides we could go on before we arrived.

10. Make some memories! There are so many special experiences you can do! From character meals to dress up experiences, the list is almost endless. You don't have to add anything on and still have an amazing trip, but if you want a few extras, Disney offers so many options. By far, though, our favorite is the first haircut at Walt Disney World's Harmony Barbershop. Both boys and our nieces have had their first haircut there. It was an amazing experience, surprisingly affordable, and sprinkled with magic like only Disney can do. Make sure you make your reservation ahead of time! They book up fast!

runDisney bonus tip: The kids races are awesome! Both boys have already done the Diaper Dash, and Robby has run the 100m a few times. In the upcoming year, we probably won't do every kids race, but they are another great value and a ton of fun for a race weekend.

I'd love to hear your questions and tips! What is your number one tip?

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