Infants. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how parents should care for their infants. Many families bring infants along on Disney vacations, while other parents either leave them at home or wait to plan Disney vacations when their children are older. Others readily pack the strollers and diaper bags and bring babies along for the ride, so to speak. This week, we asked our Parenting Panel: Do you (or did you) take your infants to Disney theme parks? Why?
Chris, also known as GusMan, is always planning his next family trip to the Walt Disney World Resort and loves to help others plan their trips, as well sharing his experiences. Chris writes:
During my first Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) trip as an adult, my daughter was around 8 years old. I can see that she was enjoying all the sights, sounds, and excitement that the parks had to offer. When we found out that my wife was expecting, and we had a WDW trip right around the corner, my daughter's first question was, "Does that mean we are not going back to Disney?"
I could not help but laugh.
But it did bring up some questions. While our son would not be here for that next trip, he would surely be around for the one after that, which was already planned. In fact, the first trip with my son would be a land and sea vacation splitting time at the parks and time on the Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder. We tried to be logical about the situation as we know that an infant on a trip can bring about some differences on how you vacation. After all, my son would be 5 months old during that first trip. In fact, he was on Disney property three times before he was 2 years old.
Of course you need to know your child. I know that is a common theme when it comes to planning a Disney vacation with your kids, no matter what age. My son was already a good traveler before his first vacation with us. If he wasn't, I probably would be telling you a different story. We took him on different day trips before our first Disney trip to test out what he can or could not handle. It turns out that he was made for traveling and still loves it to this day.
It is true that he would not remember pretty much anything from those trips, though it still made great memories for all of us. Of course, we bring out the vacation videos once in a while and we see the fun we had along with how he grew up loving the Disney magic. It also showed how the simplest details at Disney cater to all of us regardless of age. At times, we may see these details as odd or even wasted space. For some with young families, they can be simple enjoyment for the younger set.
We decided to keep our planned trips coming even when my son was younger. We need that time away as a family, regardless of where we might go. At the same time Disney is a place where they know how to take care of their youngest guests, so it seemed like a very obvious and logical decision. Cast members know how to cater to kids and make it a bit easier for parents as well. While on the Disney Wonder, our server even cut my wife's steak up for her so she could enjoy her meal after my son fell asleep on her shoulder.
Simply put, I don't get a lot of chances to take my family on vacation. And now that my oldest is in college and reality is hitting me that she may still be in school during our next trip, I realize that every chance to go to Disney with my kids is precious. Every visit is different as they grow up, and it is so worth considering a trip, regardless of age.
Elizabeth, who posts on our MousePad message board as eabaldwin, has been a Disneyland Annual Passholder since 2010. She and her husband have two daughters, Katie (3) and Josie (14 months). Elizabeth writes:
We brought both of our girls to Disneyland when they were infants. Our oldest had her first trip to Disneyland when she was 7 months old when we went to Disneyland for a convention. We had so much fun that we decided to get Annual Passports. Katie was young, and we knew that she wouldn't remember many of her experiences there. But we had fun and knew that as she grew up, we would have a lot of fun as a family enjoying trips to Disneyland. It is her favorite place to go, so when she wanted to go after our youngest was born we packed up the car and went! Josie was about 6 weeks old when we went for her first trip.
There are several reasons why we brought our babies, and will bring any future babies that we have, to Disneyland:
We Are Not the Kind of People to Stay at Home. We bring our children with us when we go places, so long as it is appropriate. They have been hiking, on airplanes, to church, to military ceremonies (when they are welcome), and on daily errands. We do not feel that just because we have babies that we have to stay home. We are active and our children will hopefully enjoy being active as well. The best way to teach them to be active, and to learn appropriate behavior at certain events, is to introduce them to activities at an early age.
We Are Not Overly Concerned About Exposure to Germs. Some people may want to avoid Disney Parks and big crowds because of a fear of germs. We believe that some exposure helps keep us healthy and being overly paranoid about germs can lead to more sickness. I know that not everyone feels that way, but we take our own precautions.
When Our Babies Are Young Infants, They Spend Much of Their Time at Disneyland in a Baby Carrier. The Ergobaby carrier and the Moby wrap are my favorites. They spend plenty of time snuggling with me or my husband. I can breastfeed them while they are in there if I want, or I can go to the Baby Care Center. If they are snuggled next to one of us, it is easier to keep strangers from touching them, no matter how well-meaning. They have some time in the stroller, as well, where they can look around and enjoy different sights and sounds than we have at home. I have no issues with meeting their needs while we are out, whether we are at the grocery store or Disneyland.
Babies Are Super Portable! Sometimes, I feel like it is easier to travel and go places with young infants than it is with older babies and toddlers. All they need is milk or formula, a clean diaper, and somewhere to nap. With a little baby, I don't need to worry about them wanting to crawl on the dirty ground, or where the potty is (and if we'll make it in time!), or if they want to ride Ariel's Undersea Adventure for the third time that day. They just snuggle, sleep, eat and go with the flow!
Parenting in the Parks columnist Adrienne Krock's three boys are now 15, 12, and 9. They've been visiting the Disneyland Resort since they were each just weeks old and Annual Passholders since their 3rd birthdays. Adrienne writes:
This topic strikes a chord in me, even though my baby is 9-years old. We always took our children to the Disneyland Resort as babies, from the time our eldest was 12 days old! Last month, my own mother commented about babies at Disneyland and I rushed to remind her that her own grandchildren were once those infants! Will they remember the trips? Probably not. I never brought my kids to Disneyland for them to remember the trips. I hope my children remember always having fun and feeling safe with their parents. I feel confident we accomplished that in our visits to Disneyland. Growing up visiting the parks, they felt comfortable and familiar visiting and they even learned how to behave appropriately from a young age. As big Disneyland fans now, they enjoy looking back at the pictures and seeing what they did on our visits or seeing the park as it used to be.
To start with, like a large number of Disneyland guests, we live local to Anaheim and have held Annual Passports for more than 18 years now. Disneyland visits very rarely involved overnight stays in hotels or visiting for multiple days in a row. We never had to worry about budgeting for hotels or travel expenses other than gas and food. That certainly made it easier to take an infant. We rarely rushed from one attraction to another. Sometimes we simply sat and watched the world go by, visiting with friends or each other. As we had other children, we rode family friendly rides together or I had no problem sitting off the faster rides to hold the baby.
Frankly, life was much easier when we had a baby! There, I said it. I nursed so I never needed to carry bottles with me. Even when they started to eat, I easily packed cereal and baby food in the diaper bag. I carried a backpack diaper bag that made it eas whenier we parked the stroller for a ride, show or restaurant. My children napped in their strollers or in our baby carriers when we used those. Maybe my children made life too easy for me? Maybe I handling babies at Disneyland came easily to me? But with a stroller and a packed diaper bag, we had few troubles managing day visits to the parks.
That said, here's my caveat: My eldest son never slept well in a hotel as an infant or toddler. I know that if we had to stay in a hotel to visit the parks, we would have visited differently. Every child is different, so when I see an infant at Disneyland, I smile and flirt. I'm filled with envy forwhoever is holding the little angel because I do love babies very much. But I do not automatically judge those parents, because I know, babies at Disneyland can be a very lovely thing.
It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!
Visit the Parenting in the Parks forum on our MousePad discussion board, and share your opinions about this topic or many others, or send your suggestions via e-mail. Reader-submitted tips might be used in a future article, and you might be selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion!