Nursing in the Parksby Adrienne Krock, staff writer
Those of us who regularly visit the Disney theme parks often field a number of questions from friends and family. This week’s question came from a Facebook conversation among some young moms and soon-to-be-moms Where are the most comfortable and inconspicuous places to nurse? Our Parenting Panel answers apply no matter how you’re feeding your babies:
Jen, also known as *Nala*, is an engineer, a Disney fan, and a MouseAdventure fanatic. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two future MouseAdventurers, ages 11 months and 2 1/2 years. Jen writes:
Babies get hungry, even at the Happiest Place on Earth. For breastfeeding moms, spending a day at the parks with our little ones, it's good to keep a few comfortable and convenient places in mind to feed the baby.
I've found three types of locations in Disney parks for nursing babies: Baby Care Centers, benches or chairs, and attractions. While I've used all of these on occasion, each has its definite advantages and disadvantages.
Baby Care Centers: In my opinion, Disney's Baby Care Centers are by far the nicest and easiest places to nurse a baby in the parks. They are quiet, air conditioned, and staffed by friendly and helpful cast members. The nursing rooms are reserved for moms and babies only, so they are the best option if you're concerned about privacy.
Since my first baby preferred bottles to nursing, I've also had to use a pump at the Baby Care Centers. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have separate curtained areas for moms to pump. The Walt Disney World parks send pumping moms into the main nursing rooms, so I usually turned a chair around to face the wall in this situation.
While the Baby Care Centers are great, the disadvantage is that there is only one in each park. As we all know, Disney parks are big, and babies don't always get hungry on a convenient schedule. With that in mind, that leads me to the next location…
Benches and Chairs: Park benches have the advantage of convenience. Unless you find yourself on a parade route at 3 p.m., you can almost always find a spot on a bench. However, in my opinion, this is the least comfortable—and least private—option. The few times I've nursed on a park bench I've used a nursing cover, though your comfort level may vary.
While I've never had the occasion to try it, I have always thought the big comfy chairs in the lobby of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa would be a great place to nurse a baby.
Attractions: There are a lot of options for nursing on attractions throughout the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. In general, I look for an attraction that is long enough, quiet and calm, and can provide some level of privacy. I have nursed a baby on "it's a small world" and Pirates of the Caribbean (after the drops!). For both rides I asked for the back row when I knew I planned to feed the baby. I did find this worked best with a younger baby, because as my daughter got older she became much more easily distracted on a ride
While I've only used a few attractions for nursing, I can think of several others that would fit all of my criteria. At the Disneyland Resort, these include the Disneyland Railroad, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, and the Animation Room at Disney California Adventure. At Walt Disney World I'd be comfortable nursing in the Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, The American Adventure, Impressions de France, Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land, Wildlife Express Train, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Each breastfeeding mother has her own comfort level with nursing in public locations. Fortunately, Disney Parks provide moms with plenty of options for just about any situation.
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:
Like many other details, Disney has moms and little ones taken care of. The thing is that people without infants might never know about some of the fantastic cast members that staff the Baby Care Center at each park. This turned out to be my wife’s all time favorite place to take a break and take care of our son’s needs.
Not only were there quiet, private places for nursing, but also places to change diapers, use the restroom, and grab a drink of water. Not to mention, they have a small store fully stocked with anything you might need, or might have forgotten, to take care of your child. She even reminded me about one time where she entered the Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom and the cast member offered to hold our sleeping son while my wife used the restroom. It was a small detail that meant a lot to my wife.
Other places where my wife nursed our son during his infant years:
- Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Since our son could sleep through the louder segments of the attraction, it provided a dark, cool spot for nursing. Sitting in the back of one of the rear ride vehicles seemed to work best for keeping things inconspicuous.
- Carousel of Progress. A longer attraction that is not too loud that provides a good seating arrangement for tending to your child.
- Tomorrowland Peoplemover / Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Considering that there may be several empty cars in front of behind you, it may provide a nice ride while getting some privacy as well. For some reason, the constant moving around also lulled my son to sleep at times.
- Spaceship Earth. Similar to the Peoplemover, the combination of darkness and slow, constant movements tend to work out well for my wife and son.
You might see the general theme of what influenced some of our choices. For us, if going back to the Baby Care Center was not very convenient. Finding a dark, air-conditioned attraction where such a natural activity would not draw too much attention worked out best for my wife and son. The nice part is that there are so many different little secluded resting spots at the parks and even some resorts, there are bound to be choices for moms, and dads alike, to take a break with their child.
Elizabeth, who posts on our MousePad message board as eabaldwin, has been a Disneyland Annual Passholder since 2010. She and her husband have 2 daughters, ages 2.5 and 8 months. Elizabeth writes:
I think the most comfortable place to breastfeed in Disneyland Park is at the Baby Care Center at the end of Main Street near the Corn Dog Cart. When you go in, the nice ladies direct you to a comfy chair to sit where you can feed your baby. They have several chairs, and they also have a place to pump if you ever need to. It is climate controlled, so if it’s too hot outside the Baby Care Center is nice and cool, or vice versa. There is also a Baby Care Center in Disney California Adventure, though there aren’t as many chairs. I have seen mothers recently out in one of the other rooms using covers since there are people coming and going to the diaper changing area. The Baby Care Center in Disneyland Park is the most private place in the parks to breastfeed, in my opinion, and ideal for anyone who may not be comfortable with breastfeeding in public.
Depending on the level of comfort for the mother, just about anywhere can be a good place to feed your baby. There are lots of benches where you can sit, and the bonus is that while your baby eats you can take advantage of the great people-watching at the park. Honestly, there are a few attractions that work really well as well. I fed my older daughter a couple of times on Pirates of the Caribbean before they redid it. (I think the fog/smoke is too stinky now for me to take my little ones on that one anymore.) "it’s a small world" is a good one for smaller babies or ones who aren’t easily distracted. I use a cover when I’m out in public, even on an attraction, because that’s what makes me most comfortable.
Currently, my favorite place to breastfeed my younger daughter is in the Ergobaby carrier. We can walk around and I don’t have to worry about taking the time to sit and feed her. She is covered up and most people just think that she is sleeping. Being able to feed my baby while on the go is key with a 2.5 year old who wants to go see Mickey at his house in ToonTown and then go over to DCA to go on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
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!