Many of us have taken our infants to Disney theme parks. This week we discuss babies at theme parks. All of our contributors this week had their experiences at Disneyland as present:
What are your best tips for breastfeeding at Disneyland? Where are/were your favorite places to nurse? When did you find were good times to nurse?
Mary Kraemer is a travel consultant with CruisingCo/MouseEarVacations. She loves to travel with her husband and four children and is an avid Disney fan who visits Disneyland several times a year—and Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line as often as possible. Mary writes:
Breastfeeding has been one of those parenting topics that’s slightly less controversial than religion and politics, but about as hotly contested as cloth vs. disposable diapers or thumbsucking vs. pacifiers.
I have four kids and I’ve nursed each one of them. I have always believed that breastfeeding is the best source of food for a baby, not to mention the most convenient (no bottle sterilizing, mixing formula, etc.) Yet, as the mother of twins, I learned that there are times when a bottle is not such a bad thing! Of course, as with so many things related to parenting, you have to make your own decisions about what’s right for your family.
Some people feel uncomfortable to see a mom nursing a baby in public, but, honestly, I don’t see why if the mom is reasonably discreet (which does necessarily mean throwing a blanket over yourself). My thought to those folks who are bothered by seeing a nursing mom—don’t look! I always wore specially designed nursing clothes that minimized any sort of "exposure" while being convenient for their intended purpose. Not everybody does that, and discreet nursing can still be accomplished easily.
Having babies never stopped us from going to Disneyland, and the babies went right along with us. I’ve never felt the need to find a private secluded place to nurse; I was perfectly comfortable sitting on a shady bench and watching the people go by.
One of my children was an All-Pro Nurser, taking advantage of every possible moment when I’d sit down to nurse (I won’t tell you which child to avoid huge embarrassment on their part). That child nursed not only on the train around the park, but on Pirates of the Caribbean, "it's a small world," Storybook Land Canal Boats, Monorail, Jungle Cruise, Mark Twain, and, my favorite, the Haunted Mansion (although that part of the ride as you head into the cemetery where you’re turned around and heading backward was a little tricky).
For moms who feel that they need privacy, the Baby Care Center on Main Street at Disneyland offers a lovely quiet room with rockers, where moms and babies can go to enjoy a comfortable place away from onlookers. On a hot day, this place is a blessing.
Here’s a few suggestions: The porch on Main Street is a nice place because you’re up a little way from the street level, and not in the midst of the crowds. I also enjoyed the some of the little courtyards in New Orleans Square (some of those have now turned into extensions of stores, though). One of my favorite places was on a bench near the Walt and Mickey "Partners" statue in the Hub because, unless it’s parade or fireworks time, it’s not usually terribly crowded. If you’re in Disney's California Adventure, it’s really nice and cool in the shade in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail—which has the added bonus of being a good place for your older children to play while you nurse.
But really, I think that any comfortable place to sit down with your baby, relax for a few minutes, and feed him or her is fine. After all, you’re at Disneyland, and no matter where you look, there’s always something interesting to see. It gives you a few minutes to rest and revive while appreciating the Happiest Place on Earth!
Parenting in the Parks columnist Adrienne Krock’s three boys are now 11, 8, and 5. They’ve been visiting Disneyland since they were each just weeks old. Adrienne has been a day camp counselor and teacher. Now she’s a mom and a Cub Scout leader and has been a Disneyland Annual Passholder for 14 years.
I breastfed all three of my sons for just over a year each. In addition to the medical reasons behind my decision, I figured that it was a lot less expensive than formula and bottles, and a lot less work. I found this especially true during our visits to Disneyland. I had a lot less to pack in the diaper bags and I always had food “on me.” So to speak. With our eldest son, we visited Disneyland almost weekly so we had quite a bit of nursing time in the parks.
Many people know about the Baby Care Centers in the Parks. I nursed in a Baby Care Center once—and never again. I know that many women prefer a quiet, dark place to calm and feed their babies. In fact, I have often clarified that the feeding area in the Baby Care Center is available not just for breastfeeding but for bottle-feeding as well. The Baby Care Center feeding area can be a great resource for parents who want it.
That said, I felt secluded and lonely in the Baby Care Center. There are many “magical” aspects to breastfeeding, but not every feeding is a soft-lens angelic mother and child moment worthy of a poster in an OB/GYN’s office. I had plenty of quiet time at home with my baby. During our leisure time at Disneyland, I wanted to spend time with my family and friends—and I would like to think that they enjoyed their time with me as well! The magic in Disneyland and breastfeeding was that I could comfortably feed my son while I enjoyed time with my family and friends!
To be fair, I was a pretty comfortable nursing mom. When my eldest was only 3 months old, we were in line for a screening of A Bug’s Life outside the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Boulevard when he just had to eat. I have a picture in his baby book of me, squatting outside of the theater, my coat covering all the required exposed part, while our son nursed.
There are several benches located around the parks—from the Hub area in front of the Castle, to the waiting area at Aladdin’s Oasis, the tables outside of Coke Corner and on the alley outside of the Main Street lockers. A mom can very easily sit down with baby and a blanket for a feeding. I was known to take a seat on a floor of Innoventions, inside the Opera House or at the tables outside the restrooms under the Hungry Bear Restaurant.
One of my favorite places to nurse my children were on longer rides. Pirates of the Caribbean and "it’s a small world" are both great rides for nursing, but one of the best is the Disneyland Railroad. Guests can circle the Magic Kingdom as often as they want before deboarding!
I never had any magical tricks to nursing. If I had a blanket and a baby, we did what we “had” to do. Although, at the risk of forever offending many people, there were times when we just did not use a blanket. One of my sons would sweat when he ate. Putting a blanket over his head was torture for him. If my body was appropriately covered, I did not worry about the blanket. I breathed a huge sigh of relief the day that one of my friends turned to me and said “If you’re doing that for me, don’t worry about it. If you don’t need it, I don’t need it.” A blanket was not always necessary to be modest.
My children each enjoyed many trips to Disneyland while they were nursing. As their mom, I was able to relax and enjoy myself too, without worrying about taking care of them!
Elizabeth Peterson lives in Southern California with her husband and two kids. You can follow her adventures on her blog (link).
This is a fabulous topic for me considering my daughter's first visit to Disneyland was when she was 1 week old! When I need to nurse a baby at Disneyland, I've mainly used the nursing section of the Baby Care Center at the end of Main Street. It's a quiet area with rocking chairs. The issue there is that only the mom and nursing child are allowed in the nursing area. So, if you are there with other kids and no adults, you are out of luck. I have babies who don't mind nursing under blankets, so I felt comfortable nursing wherever I needed to at Disneyland. At Disney's California Adventure, the Baby Care Center has a different layout and enables you to have your other children with you.
The other places I've found work well for nursing are: The Enchanted Tiki Room, "it's a small world," and in the restaurants. I have a friend who nursed her son successfully while on the rides with him in a sling. I recall her specifically mentioning she did this in The Haunted Mansion. Every baby is different and I know some babies need to eat in total quiet while others are fine to nurse wherever they are. Since Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure are not that big in area, I feel that making your way to the Baby Care Centers is not that inconvenient. Otherwise, find a good spot that works for you and your baby and take a break and relax. Some of my most peaceful memories of Disneyland are when other members of my party are off on a ride and I can just take a nice break on a bench with my baby and soak in the happy Disney vibes.
It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!
Visit the Parenting on the Parks section of our MousePad discussion board, and share your best tips for what you bring when you're at the Disney theme parks (link), or send your suggestions via e-mail (link). Reader-submitted tips might be used in a future article, and you might be selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion!
Next time: Kid leashes in the parks: yes or no?
(Send an email to Adrienne Krock)
Adrienne gathered experience taking children to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job: being mom to her three boys. Adrienne, Matthew, Spencer, and Colin visit Disneyland frequently, usually with Dad, Kevin.