Do Babies Belong on Disney Vacations?

by Adrienne Krock, staff writer
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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!

Comments

  1. By mkelm44

    My son is 15 months and I recently turned down an opportunity to go to Disney World. Since my in-laws live on Florida's west coast, we thought about decamping for a couple of days on our next trip and doing a trip to Disney. I decided against it for a few reasons. The first is timing- we're going to be there during Presidents day and I much prefer to go at a quieter time- nothing having to do with my son, just my personal preference. The second is that he is a very good-natured boy but like many toddlers, can get overwhelmed at times. 15 months is a very interesting time, but I agree with Elizabeth- he was much easier to travel with at 3 months than he is a year later. He's too old to just not really care about what's going on around him, but too young to really get what's going on around him. So I made a decision to hold off on the Disney trip until he's a bit older- maybe a year from now or so. The good news is that Disney isn't going anywhere for him.

    I also would have to admit that I'm a bit scared to do it. Knowing that my son doesn't always do well in crowds, that he doesn't always respond well when we travel (he takes a few days to adjust to sleep schedule disruptions) and that he can get quite fickle about eating, I don't want to risk a trip where we are tired, stressed out, and not enjoying ourselves. Disney World maybe the happiest place on earth, but when the whole family is overtired and not wanting to be there, it can still be hard. I don't get to go to Disney that often- I don't want any of my trips to be a chore rather than a joy.

    I think it has to do with what your child is like and how you want to handle them. I'm choosing to wait a couple of years- I'm thinking that in a year or two I'd like to take him to Disney by myself (My wife isn't as big of a disney fan as I am, so she'd probably let me do this). Some of my best trips to Disney were with my dad only, and I'd love for it to be something he and I got to do together...

  2. By familymemories

    I believe babies do belong on a Disney vacation. I wish we would have taken ours as babies.

  3. By MammaSilva

    Quote Originally Posted by mkelm44 View Post

    I also would have to admit that I'm a bit scared to do it. Knowing that my son doesn't always do well in crowds, that he doesn't always respond well when we travel (he takes a few days to adjust to sleep schedule disruptions) and that he can get quite fickle about eating, I don't want to risk a trip where we are tired, stressed out, and not enjoying ourselves. Disney World maybe the happiest place on earth, but when the whole family is overtired and not wanting to be there, it can still be hard. I don't get to go to Disney that often- I don't want any of my trips to be a chore rather than a joy.

    I think it has to do with what your child is like and how you want to handle them. I'm choosing to wait a couple of years- I'm thinking that in a year or two I'd like to take him to Disney by myself (My wife isn't as big of a disney fan as I am, so she'd probably let me do this). Some of my best trips to Disney were with my dad only, and I'd love for it to be something he and I got to do together...

    But this is exactly what all of the 'smart parents' are saying, there is no right or wrong answer to the baby question, each baby gives you their own answer and based on your post, waiting is what is best for your situation. I think you're being very unselfish and putting his needs before your desire to go to WDW and that's just being a good daddy. What an awesome memory you will make when he is older and can appreciate all the magic that is a Disney park. You have my deepest respect!

  4. By adriennek

    Quote Originally Posted by mkelm44 View Post
    I think it has to do with what your child is like and how you want to handle them. I'm choosing to wait a couple of years- I'm thinking that in a year or two I'd like to take him to Disney by myself (My wife isn't as big of a disney fan as I am, so she'd probably let me do this). Some of my best trips to Disney were with my dad only, and I'd love for it to be something he and I got to do together...

    Sounds perfect.

    My biggest issue is the knee jerk responses that ascribe the same answer to every child and every parent. A baby being at a Disney theme park is not automatically the wrong choice. And even a CRYING baby at a Disney theme park isn't automatically the wrong choice, either.

  5. By Niwel

    We just returned from a Disney Cruise with our 8 month old. We live in L.A. and flew to Orlando (AA of course gate checked our stroller and carseat to MIA instead of MCO so we carried her around Downtown Disney - but that was OK). They delivered our stuff the next morning.

    She was great on the ship -- when she got fussy during the show, we took her out. When she was hungry, we gave her a bottle. She slept great. She loved the its a small world nursery (she was in there for five hours one of the days and for five hours one of the evenings when we went to Palo). She enjoyed Nemo's Reef, but I think she enjoyed splashing in our tub more.

    The deck party was a little loud for her - but she loved the music around the ship and in the DLounge.

    The staff was fabulous.

    We used babiestravellite to deliver the diapers, formula, food and sunshade - DCL provided the diaper genie and pack n play. Our cabin steward was awesome and even brought extra towels since Princess likes to spit up.

    We've taken her to Disneyland/DCA three times and are going again in December.

    She is a pretty easy going child - which makes traveling with her easy as well.

  6. By currence

    My parents and sister planned a re-positioning cruise from Los Angeles to Florida over a year in advance. We made plans to join them once they arrived in Florida and spend the week at Disneyworld with my parents. We were also trying to get pregnant with our second child. After much deliberation we opted to take our then one-month old with us on the family vacation. The trip has some bumps (it turns out that meeting your parents who don't love Disney as much as you do at Disneyworld after they have already been trapped on a Disney Cruise for two weeks and are Disney-ed out before you arrive isn't the best idea) but I don't think it was any harder because we had our infant. The "practice" trips that we took to DL in the weeks leading up to the trip were a bad idea, as I was still in pain from the c-section.

    BUT, I remember my husband and I laughing with each other that there was no way we would have even considered the trip with our firstborn. With him, we let our passes expire while I was still pregnant as there was increasingly fewer rides I was comfortable riding on. We renewed them after he was born and a few months old. I don't recall exactly how old he was now, but I do know that I put it on my calendar as "baby's first trip"

  7. By 3Princesses1Prince

    Our first trip "with kids" was for my oldest's 4th birthday. We opted to leave baby #2 home with grandma (she was 8 months) because it never occurred to us she could come. I don't regret doing it so we could have a special trip for her birthday. But our second trip with kids was when our youngest DD was 6 months and at christmas. We surprised the girls by throwing them into the car at 3 am the day after Xmas and driving to Disneyland. We had such a crazy but magical trip. It was so easy taking her since she stayed in the carrier and the stroller was used for our 2 year old. Then when we had our youngest we got APs. We had 2 under the age of three with our youngest on his third trip by his first birthday. Will he remember his trips to DL as a baby? No. But we always will.

    I totally agree infants are easier than toddlers. Once they want to be out of the stroller and move around its harder.

  8. By Jimbo996

    Babies Are Super Portable!

    Wow. That's so amazing to hear. They are portable if you exclude all the stuff that you must bring with you. You can forget about the stroller on the tram unless you have someone to help you out. If you have many young kids, the amount of work to prepare for the trip jump in multiples. Nonetheless, many people are doing this. I'm not one to try. I didn't take my kid to Disneyland until 2 years old. The second time when 4 years old. It just wasn't worth the hassle. I did take my kid to other theme parks that are better suited with lower crowds and more gentle rides. Legoland, Knott's, and SeaWorld were better fits.

  9. By currence

    My parents did special "kid's first trip to Disneyland" with my sister and me just before each of our third birthdays. The other child stayed home with a grandparent.

    Sometimes I go with friends/family who are taking older kids for the first time, and the wonder in their eyes really is Magical. I periodically lament that I've deprived my kids of that lasting memory by taking them at such an early age. But then I remember that they enjoy Disneyland as much as I enjoy spending time together as a family and we move on.

    There is definitely no "right age."

    p.s. I'm now reminded of a 1st trip with a girl in the 5-8 range. She was super happy/excited and had done enough research with her parents before hand to know that she wanted to go on the teacups. She and her younger sister feel asleep at Dinner, and her parents made the decision to not wake them up and just head home. I don't know what they actually did, but they told us they were going to tell her that they went on it after dinner and that she had a really good time.

  10. By *Nala*

    Quote Originally Posted by 3Princesses1Prince View Post
    Will he remember his trips to DL as a baby? No. But we always will.

    This!!

    Cub #1's first trip was at 4 months and #2 was at 5 months. It was a totally different experience than previous Disney trips, and different than taking our now-toddlers, but it was still very special. I have loved seeing what has caught their interest from baby age to toddler and look forward to what will come next.

  11. By DebT

    I found this topic surprising. It never occurred to me to stop traveling because I had babies or to leave them at home. I too always considered my babies"portable". By the time my daughter was 4 she had been to DLR three times, WDW once, and in 36 states. Her first road trip was at one month old. I traveled less with my son only due to less flexibility with my job.

  12. By nursechrissy32

    <<<<<<<NICU nurse says...if the baby is high risk such as one of our premature love bugs who has been recently discharged....RSV (Respiratory virus) season extremely high november through March....absolutely...not exposing them to the virus that can literally make them extremely ill and put them back in the hospital...recycled airplane air, etc....

  13. By candles71

    A very valid arguement Chrissy, but A got it from her school going siblings, we hadn't been really anywhere. Precautions need to be taken.

  14. By newhdplayer

    We took DD to DL since she was ten (10) days old (first trip), and have been going ever since.

    If you can hadnle the accessories, and don't sweat a time table, it's easy peasy.

  15. By dsnyredhead

    We've been taking Arg to the parks since he was an infant. Honestly, he was easier as an infant than as a toddler. He's almost 10 now so it's been while. Other than hauling all the stuff around, dealing with multiple stops, it was easier.

  16. By nursechrissy32

    RSV for adults and older children is disguised often times as the common cold...unfortunately RSV for an at risk infant can literally make them so sick they end up as patients again and sometimes worse.

    Agree Candles, it can come from anywhere...just have to be advocate for our babies

    http://kids.emedtv.com/rsv/rsv-in-infants.html

  17. By 3Princesses1Prince

    Quote Originally Posted by nursechrissy32 View Post
    RSV for adults and older children is disguised often times as the common cold...unfortunately RSV for an at risk infant can literally make them so sick they end up as patients again and sometimes worse.

    Obviously at risk infants need different precautions. And parents of those children are aware of that early on. This would fall in the "you know your child best" and "do what's best for your family".

  18. By GusMan

    Quote Originally Posted by 3Princesses1Prince View Post
    Obviously at risk infants need different precautions. And parents of those children are aware of that early on. This would fall in the "you know your child best" and "do what's best for your family".

    This also falls under the category of if you have any doubt or any questions, you should contact your childs doctor to see if there is a reason you should not travel or if there are special precautions to heed.

  19. By adriennek

    Quote Originally Posted by GusMan View Post
    This also falls under the category of if you have any doubt or any questions, you should contact your childs doctor to see if there is a reason you should not travel or if there are special precautions to heed.

    Agreed.

    My children visited the parks from the time they were as young as just under 3-weeks old. Now, my sister, the pediatrician, was not entirely happy about our choices. (Bonus irony: The middle son's first visit was the day after her medical school graduation - which he went to - at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Then we spent the night at a hotel where we had her graduation party, and went to Disneyland the next day.) But. My kids never had RSV (that they were diagnosed anyway,) and were never hospitalized for anything. They were also all born at term, very healthy, nursed for a year, had ALL THEIR VACCINES based on the AAP and CDC recommendations at the time (soapbox issue for me), never missed a well-baby visit EVER, etc. And, like candles mentioned, my youngest son had an older brother in school and Cub scouts. So anything he could've gotten at Disneyland, his brother was bringing home quite regularly.

    In other words, I made an informed decision.

  20. By GusMan

    Quote Originally Posted by adriennek View Post
    In other words, I made an informed decision.

    I think this is key. Parents need to feel comfortable caring for their baby outside of their home. Each parent will be different. While Disney does a great job helping parents and their youngest guests alike enjoy themselves, parents still need to be comfortable.

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