Home » 10 Helpful Hacks to Make Bringing a Baby to Disney Parks Easier

    10 Helpful Hacks to Make Bringing a Baby to Disney Parks Easier

    Visiting Disney parks with a baby is a unique experience. One minute, your little one is cooing in wonder at colorful flags waving in the breeze… the next, she’s melting down due to a poopy diaper on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

    Managing a baby adds a stunning degree of complexity to a Disney vacation. Between keeping track of feedings and diapers, baby’s temperature and temperament, things can go from magic to less-than-magical quickly.

    I recently graduated from decades as a Disney adult to life as a Disney parent—something I was able to detail in our recent piece on Surprising Things No One Tells You About Bringing a Baby to Walt Disney World. As a Passholder, I’ve been able to introduce our baby to Walt Disney World a few times now (with the flexibility that as a local, I can always take her home if things go to pot), and during that time, I’ve started to identify some of the common pitfalls that can creep up on parents bringing an infant with them to Disney the first time

    I also love a good travel hack, and during our short journey, I’ve discovered a few tips from seasoned Disney parents that can help make life bringing a baby to Disney parks a little easier.

    1. The many uses of an insulated bottle


    It’s easy to assume keeping a baby fed should be a simple task: you either nurse them wherever they are or add some powdered formula to food and POOF! Instant satisfaction.

    The truth is, for a very large portion of parents, that simply isn’t the case. Different babies have different needs and quirks. One baby won’t nurse without being rocked a certain way. Another tosses off any cover mom attempts to use. Many moms have to pump to maintain supply or exclusively pump to feed their babies. In my case, a very complicated start to my little one’s life has meant navigating the strange world of combo-feeding—using a mix of nursing, pumped milk, and supplementing with formula as we continue to grow together.

    Pretty much anywhere I go, I carry some sort of cooler with me to keep breastmilk cold. Normally, an insulated cooler attached to my diaper bag does the trick (I use this one from Tactical Baby Gear). Against the formidable heat of either Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort, however, I quickly learned a normal insulated cooler couldn’t cut it. Relentless heat paired with being limited to using bags of ice (as our hotel room didn’t have a freezer) left my normal cooler soggy and quickly warming to unsafe levels

    Enter the insulated bottle.

    A clean insulated water bottle (like a Yeti or Hydro flask) makes an excellent cooler for keeping a moderate amount of breastmilk cold. Fill your insulated water bottle about halfway full with ice, then put your breastmilk in a sealed container inside, such as a milk storage bottle or breastmilk bags (if you’re confident they won’t leak). I was amazed how cold the milk stayed all day using this system.

    A side benefit? When the heat of the day set in, I had ultra cold milk ready to go as a nice treat to keep baby cool. If your insulated bottle is a little cool to the touch, some parents even opt to tuck it in the stroller with baby to help provide a little more relief. If your ice starts to melt, just pick up some more from any counter service location or first aid.

    For me, this proved a game changer for keeping my ever rotating supply of milk cold. On colder days, an insulated bottle filled with hot water can also be used to heat bottles if that’s what your baby prefers (though I prefer to use this travel sized heater with a bottle adapter for our own bag). If you’re an exclusive pumper and need to keep a lot of milk cold throughout the day, an upgraded option worth considering is the Ceres Chill, an insulated cooler designed specifically for breastmilk transport.

    2. Speaking of keeping baby cool…


    You’re going to need some gear, and you won’t find it easily in the parks.

    I’m pretty new to mom-life, so on my last visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I quickly realized I didn’t have any of the necessary gear to keep a baby cool in the parks besides a good quality stroller cover (I use this one from Quilbie) and a sunscreen stick.

    The basics you need for a hot day at Disney with baby are a sun hat, sunscreen, and a in many cases, a clip-on fan. As a bonus, a cooling pack isn’t a bad idea either (though you could use the insulated bottle trick we mentioned earlier).

    Don’t expect to find the best options for any of these in the parks.

    Baby sunscreen is available, but you will pay top dollar for it. Baby hats were nowhere to be found, not even in the Baby Care Center. As for the fans… oh my.

    Disney’s stroller fans are HUGE. As someone who already carries too much stuff and is ever trying to reduce my diaper bag size, Disney’s fans felt like a choice made in desperation rather than an ideal pick. In hindsight, I wish I would have gotten one online, such as this bladeless model from Amazon or this flexi-clip style from Wi-Hoo. You’ll save yourself some headaches as I’ve found good quality fans really challenging to find in stores.

    Short version: you’re better off pretty much all cooling gear before your trip than trusting Disney to have what you need.

    3. Babywearing is a game changer


    I have become a huge fan of babywearing, and some sort of carrier has become an essential part of my Disney kit.

    Strollers are both a blessing and a curse at Disney parks. On one hand, a stroller can be very convenient for keeping baby cool, giving them a place to rest, and moving your gear from point A to point B on long walks. At the same time, the bigger the stroller, the more the hassle throughout your day, and on many attractions, you have to ditch the stroller well before you get into line.

    Babywearing provides a great option to carry baby without exhausting your arms. I personally use a woven wrap (I like the ones from Oscha Slings because of their Middle Earth Collection, but there are less expensive versions available from other companies like Moby who even has a Disney collection), but a traditional carrier, ring sling, or Meh Dai/Cairis will work as well.  

    Babywearing is great for getting baby out of the stroller to get a better view of the sights, especially at places like Epcot or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We’ve had some great relaxing walks while babywearing throughout Walt Disney World, such as along the path between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It’s also a great option for queues and on baby-friendly rides.

    With any carrier or wrap, do your research to make sure you’re familiar with how to get baby in and out safely, as well as how to position their torso and hips (which should always be in an M shape to prevent hip dysplasia). It’s also generally a good idea to face baby inward whenever possible as the high stimuli of somewhere like a theme park can become overwhelming—if baby is facing in, they can find some refuge leaning close to your chest.

    Oh, and if you’re like me and carry too much stuff, switch things up and put your day pack in the stroller while you wear baby. Sweet relief!

    Continue reading for ways to avoid a pooptastrophe, how best to deal with your nursing pillow and bottle washing…

    4. Avoid a pooptastrophe


    Disney days can do a number on baby diapers. Long times in the stroller combined with Florida/California heat make more quite the explosive combination.

    Theme parks are just about the last place anyone wants to deal with a diaper blowout. Rather than simply hoping for the best, there are a few preliminary steps you can take to keep your trip from becoming a poo-pocalypse.

    First, make sure your baby is in the right sized diapers. This isn’t always easy as different brands use different size measurements. I’ve found Huggies tend to run larger than other brands, for example. Some diapers parents swear by for reducing blowouts include Members Mark, Kirkland, Millie Moon, Rascal & Friends, and in some cases, Hello Bello. I’ve had hit-or-miss luck with Huggies Snug n’ Dry as well.

    Rather than relying specifically on the diaper, we add an extra layer of protection. You can use a cloth diaper cover (like these from Kanga Care) over a disposable diaper to help contain any blowouts. Some parents also swear by reusable diaper extenders to prevent blowouts up the back, especially when baby is between sizes.

    Other essentials that can help with making diaper time easier include a plastic bag roll (I like these ones from Munchkin/Arm and Hammer because they’re pretty durable and contain the smell well) and a mobile changing pad. If possible, I highly recommend using the Baby Care Centers for diaper changes—each station comes with an abundance of disposable liners.

    5. Ditch the nursing pillow


    Ditching your nursing pillow can seem a daunting task, especially if your baby won’t feed without one. You do have some options to lighten the load for your Disney parks excursion, however.

    Some of the traditional methods for ditching a nursing pillow all require some practice ahead of time. These include learning how to nurse in a woven wrap or ring sling (something I have not yet gotten the hang of), or working with a lactation consultant to learn how to nurse without a pillow (such as in cradle or koala position).

    For many of us, the pillow remains a necessity. Sure, you could buy a travel nursing pillow, but there’s an easier option.

    Just bring your nursing pillow’s pillowcase.

    This trick solved so many problems for us on baby’s first cross-country trip. The way it works is that when you need a nursing pillow, just stuff the pillowcase with whatever soft things you have on hand. Anything can work, from sweatshirts to baby blankets, to shopping bags, to diapers. It does require you to carry enough things to fill the pillow out (which works better with something like a Boppy), but this can ultimately prove easier for some moms than bringing the pillow itself.

    Just need a little support for your arm or baby’s head while nursing? Bring a small travel pillow which can act as a mini-boppy. It won’t replace a full nursing pillow, but it can be adjusted as needed to provide a little support in a pinch.

    6. Take that, teether toss


    A Disney park is not the place to learn your baby has a talent for the toddler-toss. The solution requires some prep but is fairly simple: tether everything.

    Seriously, load up on more pacifier clips and toy tethers than you think you need. I find myself using them for everything from pacifiers, to soothy animals, to teething toys. If your little one is old enough to use a snack tray, a suction cup tether or something like the Busy Baby Mat might be the way to go. As with all things, supervise baby’s toy usage and be careful to position tethers where they won’t pose a strangulation hazard.

    7. Bring a bottle washing kit


    Disney’s Baby Care Centers are amazing, but you do need to bring a few things on your end to get full mileage out of them. One of the biggest game changers for reducing your baby kit is the ability to wash your bottles. The Baby Care Centers have sinks and paper towels for parents needing to wash bottles and pump parts, but you’ll need to bring your own cleaning supplies.

    You don’t need much for a simple bottle washing kit—at a bare minimum, some dish soap and bottle brushes. While there are travel brush kits available, many of these are too bulky for a Disney day (the Boon one can work well for a hotel but not for the parks). A better alternative is to get a pack of dental swabsticks which have a small sponge on the end. These are basically what NICU’s give out to parents to keep bottles and pump parts clean, and they are both cheap and work great.

    If you want to level up your bottle / pump part washing game, bring a microwave sterilizer bag with you to quickly sterilize whatever you need using the Baby Care Center microwaves. If you can’t wash your bottles without a basin, Ceres Chill has a rather nice portable one that can work if you don’t mind adding a little more to your kit.

    Continue reading for advice on how to hack your baby’s bed space, pumping in Disney parks as well as understanding all the Disney baby perks you can get your hands on…

    8. Hack baby’s bed space


    Depending on your baby’s age, there are a few ways you can improve their sleeping space wherever you are staying.

    I developed a dislike for hotel cribs pretty much the day my daughter got out of the NICU—I realized quickly that they’re a better fit for older toddlers than teeny infants. We ended up using our daughter’s stroller bassinet as a sleeping space in that situation (when she was far too small to safely visit a theme park).

    We travel often enough now that we ended up purchasing a very compact travel crib. We’ve been very happy with Guava’s Lotus Travel Crib using their bassinet kit (as our little one is still under the weight limit for the full crib) as it folds up to about the size of a tall backpack. We even managed to fit it in the floor space of an Amtrak bedroom. Babybjorn also has a nice lightweight travel crib. If you travel a lot, an ultralight crib might be a worthwhile investment as hotels can run out of cribs if they get busy enough.

    For older kids, you have more options such as making a floor nest out of pillows, or making a DIY bedrail using chairs.

    On a related note, if you travel with a portable baby monitor, you’ll want to take an important step to make sure it is secure if it uses Wi-Fi. The easiest way to do this is to add a layer of security by using your laptop as a mobile hotspot. This will prevent your baby monitor from being directly on hotel Wi-Fi. If you have access to a VPN, even better.

    Oh, and if you’re staying at a Disney resort, don’t forget to take advantage of their bedtime story channel on resort TVs!

    9. Pumping in the parks


    Pumping is a pain and a half. Unfortunately, it’s an absolute necessity for many moms, myself included. While the Baby Care Centers are an ideal place to pump, you probably don’t want to spend your whole day there… and pumping in a bathroom is not a great alternative.

    If you know you’re going to be pumping at a Disney park, you have a few options to make things easier. For one thing, either a wearable or ultra-portable pump can be a huge help (I use a Medela Freestyle Flex a fellow mom gave me when we were in the NICU). Collection cups like those sold by Legendairy Milk or Freemie can convert a portable pump into something more wearable as you tour the parks. Medela actually just released a wearable pump that combines these ideas. Do your research ahead of time as some of these  hands free pumps are easier to clean on the go than others.

    If you have a traditional pump or need to put pump cups in place, a good nursing cover can give you more freedom of movement (I use one from Milk Snob, who ironically also has a Disney collection). It’s still ideal to find somewhere quiet to pump so milk doesn’t get spilled in the hustle and bustle, but it at least opens up your options. A pumping bra is probably essential equipment if you’ll be attempting this.

    For moms who aren’t pumping a lot, a hand pump might be sufficient. If you decide to hand pump on a dark ride, keep in mind that all the rides have night vision cameras, so a cover is probably still a good idea.

    10. Understand Disney’s Baby Perks


    In truth, Disney parks are largely marketed towards families with older kids for good reason—it’s hit or miss if your baby will enjoy a Disney day or just prefer time at the hotel with you.

    Disney does provide some helpful perks for parents: for one thing, babies get free admission, which is great. The parks Baby Care Centers are also excellent, providing quality changing areas, bottle prep stations with filtered water and warmers, microwaves, nursing rooms, and a basic supply shop.

    Probably the best perk available for parents is Rider Switch, albeit with some caveats compared to its older form. Rider Switch allows parents to check in with cast members and ask to switch off who watches baby while the other parent rides a ride (do this at the beginning of the queue). The perk is that the second parent doesn’t have to wait in the queue all over again.

    The system used to be fairly simple and allowed the switching riders to have buddies with them, but supposedly people abused the system, so Disney has tightened it up to the point it can get a little convoluted these days. On some rides, only one parent can wait in the queue. On others, you can’t take a buddy with you on the second ride. It’s a bit of a mess. Despite this, Rider Switch ultimately is a boon to parents who want to enjoy rides baby can’t go on.

    Bringing a baby to Disney parks isn’t always ideal—indeed, in many cases, it’s best to wait until children are older. If you do find yourself with the opportunity to do so, however, there are certainly ways to make the day go smoother for you and your little one.

    What are your best hacks for bringing a baby to Disney parks? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook! Thanks for reading!