Oasis for Infants: Baby Care Centers

by Adrienne Krock, staff writer

All of the Disney theme parks host a “Baby Care Center.” They offer amenities such as changing tables, pint-sized toilets, areas to feed babies and young children (or pump), and sell supplies you might have forgotten. All of these features come with helpful cast members and climate controlled comfort. We asked our Parenting Panel this week: How do (or did) you use the Baby Care Centers at the Disney theme parks?

Mary Kraemer, is an avid Disney fan and travel consultant with CruisingCo/MouseEarVacations who loves to travel with her husband and children to Disney destinations as often as possible. Mary, writes:

I started taking my children to Disneyland when they were infants.

The Baby Care Center always impressed me because I thought it was nothing short of amazing that Disney would devote the space to its youngest (and non-paying) guests’ comfort, with the lovely changing tables, miniature potties, an area with high chairs for feeding, and even a quiet room for private nursing. I knew of no other place that even came close to taking care of families like the Baby Care Center in other amusement parks or beach boardwalks…or even family-friendly places such as zoos or museums.

By the time Disney California Adventure was built, my kids no longer needed the Baby Care Center’s services, so my focus is on the lovely, unique center in Disneyland.

From the time you walk through the doors into the quiet lobby area, with a large photo of Walt Disney as a baby, you find calmness that is completely different from outside in the park. Capacity is limited, so sometimes, there’s a wait, but the friendly cast members will ask about your child’s needs, and you enter fairly quickly to take care of business.

There are several cushioned changing tables with sides that extend several inches high (to prevent roll-offs), and these tables are probably the most posh places to change a table outside your home. My babies particularly loved watching the ceiling fan blades rotate overhead in the room while we were taking care of business. Every time a little one is changed, a cast member is quick to clean and sanitize the changing table before the next little Mouseketeer gets to use it. As a parent, I really liked that!

As my kids grew from babies to toddlers, I appreciated the Baby Care Center even more, because of the two miniature-sized potties in the changing room area. They were the perfect size for little ones, and, again, just like the changing tables, the cast members cleaned and sanitized them after each use. Better than at my house.

We had a ritual when we got to Disneyland back in those days. We’d walk down Main Street, looking at the shop windows (particularly the candy store), and we would stop at the Baby Care Center to go potty before starting our park day.

We quickly discovered that the Baby Care Center is near one of the backstage entrances where characters come into the park, so we had chance encounters with characters there very often. One of my fondest memories was Cinderella meeting my daughter outside the Baby Care Center, chatting with her, and then taking her by the hand and walking to the castle together (with Grandma in hot pursuit to keep track of her little princess!). It was magical!

In addition, the Baby Care Center has a small quantity of supplies, in case you need them, such as formula, diapers and sunscreen. There are places to warm food, as well as cold filtered water (I’ve refilled my water bottles there more than once!).

I was never shy about nursing in public with my kids, but for moms who want a bit more privacy, the quiet room for nursing is perfect. It’s clean, peaceful, and a nice place for a mom and baby to take a break together.

When you have a little one, be sure to take advantage of the free services at the Baby Care Center! It’s a treasure!

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 2 and 4. Jen, writes:

We have frequently visited Disney parks since our oldest kid was just 4 months old, so we are very familiar with the Baby Care Centers at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. We’ve taken advantage of nearly everything the centers have to offer and have been very glad they are available.

Nursing and Pumping: All Baby Care Centers have a private area for nursing and/or pumping. Though there are many good places to nurse a baby in the parks, I liked that the Baby Care Centers are quiet and air conditioned, with comfortable seating. The nursing areas are generally restricted to nursing moms and babies, though once I saw another nursing mom with a female friend in the nursing room at Epcot. I also noticed that the nursing rooms at Disneyland are arranged for a bit more privacy than those at Walt Disney World, especially when it comes to pumping. Disneyland has a separate curtained area with a table, chair, and outlet, while Walt Disney World has pumping moms in the same general open nursing room (though it is pretty easy to turn a chair around to face the wall if you want a little more privacy.) Either way, I found it very comfortable and convenient especially on hot weather days.

Baby Feeding: Baby Care Centers all have small kitchen areas with sinks, microwaves and bottle warmers. We’ve used these to warm and wash bottles. Occasionally, if we were nearby and it was convenient, we also used the high chairs in the centers for feeding a baby. An aside to fellow MouseAdventurers – our favorite use of the Animal Kingdom Baby Care Center was the green-bean feeding of our then 9- month-old son during MouseAdventure World Explorers while we worked the bug quest.

Diapers and Potty: All the restrooms at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts have changing tables, but the Baby Care Centers have nice, padded tables. While we wouldn’t go out of our way just for a diaper change if we were at the other end of the park, we definitely took advantage of the nicer and cleaner changing tables if we were nearby. Our kids are now past the diaper stage, but they will still sometimes use the toddler-size potties at the Baby Care Centers. Our 2-year-old newly potty trained daughter especially likes and asks for these smaller potties as she can do it “all by herself.”

Sheena, also known as Mermaid, teaches first grade in Arizona where she lives with her husband two children, Matthew (3) and Katie (2). She visits Disneyland as often as she can and has passed on her love of the parks to her little Mouseketeers. Sheena writes:

During our first Disneyland trip with a baby, I noticed a lot of fathers doing diaper duty in the Baby Care Center on Main Street. At that point, I struck a deal with my husband: If we were near the Baby Care Center when one (or both) of our children needed a diaper change, he would do it. If not, I would take care of it in the restroom. So, do we use the Baby Care Centers? Heck yeah- every chance I get!

We like them because they are specifically designed to meet the needs of the park’s youngest visitors. There are many changing stations, so we can be in and out quickly without waiting for the table to open up which has happened more than once in the restrooms. We used cloth diaper and used a hybrid form of cloth and disposable for travel when our kids were under 18 months. In the Baby Care Center, we felt like we had a little more room and could take more time to get everything packed away again.

Although harder to get to, we like the Baby Care Center in Disney California Adventure better than the one in Disneyland. It is less crowded, brighter and more spacious. At times, the one in Disneyland has felt crowded and hot, but not more so than the restrooms. Although we have never had to buy anything, knowing the Baby Care Centers sell essentials, such as diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers etc has given me peace of mind and prevented gross overpacking for a day at the park. Both of my babies were sensitive to the type of formula they took, so I was always careful to have plenty, but formula is also sold there if needed.

We primarily use the Baby Care Centers for diaper changes, but we have also fed babies and toddlers in there when we needed a quieter and cooler place to do so. We have both bottle and spoon fed babies using their chairs and high chairs. I visited with a friend who needed to pump for her baby who was at home and she was also able to do so in a private nursing stall. They are not able to store the milk or the pump, so she brought a cooler and rented a locker, but she was grateful for a quiet place to pump her milk. [Editor's Note: The First Aid Station at Disneyland and the Baby Care Center at Disney California Adventure will store your pump for free.]

So, although the Baby Care Centers are not always the most convenient choice in terms of location, I find them to be preferable to the restroom changing tables or crowded restaurants for feeding. My husband may have a different opinion though.

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 (4) and Josie (2). Elizabeth writes:

I am a huge fan of the Baby Care Centers. We regularly visit Disneyland and we rarely have a park visit, even these days, without a trip to the Baby Care Center. I love the little, old Grandma-type ladies that work there. I always feel welcome and feel that they are there to help.

When both of my girls were babies, I frequently would go to the Baby Care Center to breastfeed them. It is quiet, which is great for the age when they are so easily distracted and don’t want to be under a cover. In the summer months, it is a great place to hide in some nice, cool air conditioning. I am all about breastfeeding where one is comfortable, so I absolutely breastfed my girls in numerous other places around the park. But if it was convenient, I would go to the Baby Care Center. The chairs they have there are much more comfortable to me than a bench. I also used the space reserved for pumping when I needed to do that as well. I also loved using the gliders in California Adventure. Since I don’t have one at home, it was a very nice change for me.

If we are in Disneyland on Main Street, or near the Hub, we will go to the Baby Care Center for a diaper change. While there are definitely places in the restrooms to change a diaper, the changing area of the Baby Care Center is nicer. They have a nicer padding than the hard, counter-tops in the restrooms. When they are super little, the ceiling fans give them something to look at. They love to find Bambi and Thumper on the wall border. In Disney California Adventure, the room is a little more bare, but still nicer, and cushier, than the restroom changing table.

Now that my girls are older, we go to the Baby Care Center for the “little potties.” I would even credit Disneyland with some assistance in potty training my 4 year old. She loves the little potties! She will use other potties around the park, but if we offer up the little potty, she will gladly go. Hopefully they will be a good incentive for my 2 year old to start potty training!

Another thing that we like about going to the Baby Care Center is the water fountain. It is a small thing and we won’t go there specifically to get cold water there, but if we are going anyway we would use the opportunity to fill our water bottles with nice, cool water.

We have also been known to purchase a diaper, and some diaper rash ointment when needed. Though we don’t buy things there often, it is reassuring to know that they have many baby supplies available when/if we do.

I think that I may even be a little sad when the time comes when I don’t need to go to the Baby Care Center!

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!