The most magical place on earth- that’s the Disney promise. You know what spoils the magic really fast? An angry baby. If you’re planning to head to Disney with a baby check out this packing list and go into the trip prepared.
So you have decided to venture into the world’s most visited theme park with the baby, by yourself. Knowing that you just committed yourself to a full day of a 1:1 adult/baby ratio in the most stimulating environment imaginable, you think to yourself “Hmmm… I may need to plan for this.” And you are right. You do need to plan for this. A failure in planning could easily result in catastrophe such as a sun burned baby. NO ONE wants to be around a sun burned baby.
Now- what to pack for Disney with a baby? I’ve rounded up the 27 I consider musts. With that in mind feel free to add whatever you like or think would make your day a little easier to the packing list below. Better yet, leave a comment about what you would add to the packing list and share knowledge. What would you pack for Disney with a baby?
What to Pack for Disney with A Baby
I would be very hesitant to leave any of the below items behind, as I consider each and every piece of equipment as essential gear. I know that there are a lot of minimalist Dad’s out there (myself included), but trust me I have done this several times and you want to go well supplied. (Qualifications- Disney trips with oldest daughter at 6 months, youngest daughter at 6 weeks, youngest son at 7 month and 7 months.)
1.) Stroller- You NEED a stroller (with a sun shade). Yes, I like the backpack carriers (current favorite is a metal frame hiking carrier) as well, but you are going to want the mobile base camp capabilities of a stroller (with a sun shade). If you are traveling to Disney World, there is a fantastic company that rents strollers that are PERFECT as a mobile base camp ( and yes, they have sun shades), and can be picked up and returned at the front desk of your hotel. Keep in mind that a lot of strollers look alike so check this article out for ways to make your stroller stand out.
2.) Baby Carrier- But you just told me to bring a stroller? Yes- both come in handy. Especially if your kiddo is younger there are numerous rides you can wear your baby on. If you have a carrier baby can take a hands free nap while you relax and rest. My wife has an extensive collection of wraps, slings and buckle things including a mesh carrier for water (handy in Disney’s water parks and pools) and hands free makes everything easier – especially if you have other kids.
3.) Sunscreen- It does not matter what time of year, or what the weather forecast says it is going to be like. Give yourself a coat, and give that baby a coat. Sunburns sneak up on you in Florida- even when the weather is overcast.
4.) Sun hat- You need one, and the baby needs one. A 360 degree brim is ideal. Think along the lines of Boonie or Tillie hats.
5.) Sunglasses- definitely for yourself, and if you are able to get the baby to wear them then you are likely a god among men, and do not need to be reading this article.
6.) Extra outfits- bring 2 sets… unless you know your little one has a tendency to blow diapers apart, then bring more.
7.) Extra diapers- bring more than you think you will need. Diapers are available in the parks, but they are VERY expensive. Plus, you never know when you will get the chance to bail out a fellow dad who misjudged the manufacturing capabilities of his little darlings lower digestive system. When you NEED a diaper is not when you want to start experimenting with “diaper alternatives.”
8.) Baby Wipes- bring lots of them. They are good for wiping down just about anything, and you will certainly use them if you have them.
9.) Use the Baby Care Centers– This may not be something to bring but is definitely a valuable resource. Each park at Walt Disney World has a Baby Care Center that is air conditioned and extremely convenient. They have anything and everything that you may have forgotten or may be running low on that you will need to care for the baby. There are large padded tables to change the baby, comfortable chairs to sit in while you feed the baby, and small play rooms that are baby proof. Disney really did a great job with these stations and they’ve come in handy on several of our trips. They even have private rooms for mothers to breastfeed in. Stop by and check one out. Based on my experience they are relatively underutilized, and a FANTASTIC resource.
10.) Bottles- Baby bottle for the baby, Nalgene bottle for dad. Over the last few years I have seen more and more water bottle filling stations at water fountains (including in both lines at the new Pandora attractions) which are incredibly convenient. Also, you can go to any quick service food spot in the parks and ask for a cup with ice and water and they will provide you with one, free of charge.
Drink LOTS of water, and make sure the baby is drinking copious amounts as well. This cannot be overstated. If you get to the point where you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Stay ahead of the curve. Pedialite may be a good choice to have on hand for the baby, as it will help keep the little one hydrated (they sell bottles of it in the Baby Care Centers). Another good thing to bring along are Tupperware “spice” containers that are multi sectional. My wife found ones that are divided into 4 sections that are perfect for holding pre measured amounts of formula for making bottles on the run. Our family also brings Gatorade/Powerade packets to mix into water for the bigger kids.
Do you know how to recognize heat emergencies like heat stroke and heat exhaustion? We’ve got a guide to that.
11.) Pacifier – That is, if your baby uses one of course. Some of my kids did, some didn’t. If you do bring one with
you, tether it to the child. There are commercial devices that can accomplish this with a clip, but I am a fan of good ol’ fashioned para cord (1 of a million uses).
12.) Maps- You don’t necessarily have to bring them with you, but grab one on your way into the park (free of charge). It will make your life a lot easier, and will certainly help you find your way to a baby station when there is an unforeseen diaper emergency. A fantastic alternative/compliment to a traditional map is the My Disney Experience App, which actually acts as a handheld GPS within the park and guides you along the best route to your destination.
13.) Diaper rash cream- There may be no diaper rash at the start of your vacation. Be prepared anyways. It’s likely to be very hot and humid and diaper rash may become a reality while you are there. Plan accordingly.
14.) Snacks- If the baby is old enough bring some for the baby. If you are old enough to breed, you are old enough for snacks. Bring some granola bars or whatever else tickles your fancy. There is a LOT of walking in Disney, and you will want something to munch on. Avoid things that melt (Snickers bars are more likely to be a messy disappointment than a tasty treat). My wife’s snack game is STRONG. Check out her tips!
15.) Rain Gear- Just like I mentioned with sunscreen, disregard what the weatherman says and go prepared. Bring a poncho for you, and one for the stroller. Rain storms kick up FAST and unexpectedly in Florida, especially during the summer. I have been to Walt Disney World several times, and it has rained at least once every time I have gone.
16.) The most comfortable shoes you own- This one should be self-explanatory, it always amazes me how many people are ill prepared for the amount of walking that is required once in the parks. (Hint: This is a good time to finally crush all your friends in a step challenge.)
17.) Pertinent medical information for you and the baby- Lists of medications and/or medical conditions are a must, as well as insurance information. You never know when a medical emergency will happen, and as a first responder I can tell you this information can be extremely important though very few people have it when the need arises. Put emergency contact info for you and the baby on the list (in case you are the one with the emergency, first responders can then contact someone to take care of the baby).
18.) Small Flashlight- Sooner or later I will do a review on my favorite travel flashlights, as I think they are an absolutely vital piece of every day carry gear. Anything that will comfortably fit in a pocket or on a key chain will suffice. You will be glad you have it when attempting to find something in the bottom of a bag, read a label in the dark, or answer the question “what is that sticky substance on the baby” after the sun sets. Kids of all ages love to play with flashlights as well, and they can do wonders with an otherwise ornery baby.
19.) Backpack – Yes, you have your rolling base station of a stroller, but I have always preferred to keep all of these things in a backpack. The backpack can be stored under the stroller when not needed, and keeps things organized for easy retrieval later on (like when you need to fold the stroller to get on the Disney bus). Also, there will be many places in Disney where you can bring the baby, but not the stroller. Just throw the backpack on and off you go.
20.) Gallon sized zip lock bags- When an unforeseen rainstorm threatens to drench you and the baby, throw your electronics into one to keep them waterproof. Also, when the baby defiles outfit number one it allows you a safe place to store the soiled linens without worry of contaminating everything else in your backpack.
21.) Cooling Items- Florida is hot. The kind of heat that sneaks up on you especially during the summer months. Check out items such as clip on fans (for babies stroller) and cooling towels- we use Frogg Toggs (you run cold water on them, wring them out and they stay cool without dripping) which you can use between you and baby if wearing the baby or on them in the stroller. (Cooling towels should only be used in infants over 12 weeks. This is the age where they start being able to regulate their own body temperature.) These are particularly important if you visit the new Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. The experience is amazing- feeling shrunk down to the size of a toy in Andy’s backyard and looking for details could keep you busy all day. Shade though? It’s lacking.
22.) Battery pack charger for phone/camera- Once in the park you will find that you will use your phone for all kinds of things and the battery will drain faster than you thought. Prepare to recharge on the go.
23.) Hand Sanitizer- There are a lot of people from all over the world visiting Disney. The best defense against illness is proper hand hygiene. Use hand sanitizer often and save yourself from trying to experience Disney through the pangs of a new and interesting virus, or worse yet, while toting along a sick baby.
24.) Disney Memory Maker. If this add on is in your budget it will be worth it. Capturing images from baby’s early Disney days will bring smiles later on and remind you of how bad ass you were taking on Disney with a tiny one. Full details on how it works can be found here.
25.) Grandparents. Do your kids have grandparents with some spare time and the desire to be among screaming and gleeful children? We’re lucky that on both sides of our family the grandparents have been able to come to Disney with us. Nothing makes a trip to Disney more fun than involving the grandparents. And it has nothing to do with the fact that you can squeeze in a date night if they come… um, well maybe a little bit. Anytime you can improve the adult:baby ration you will be winning.
26.) A sense of humor. There are tons of hilarious photo opps at Disney. Babies are the perfect accessory. Take lots of pictures.
27.) Adjusted expectations- Remember, you are there to have fun. So have FUN. Adjust your expectations appropriately when you do Disney with a baby, take it slow and enjoy yourself. Experiencing Disney should not equate to drudgery so don’t set unrealistic expectations right out of the gate. You don’t have to see everything on the first day, and you won’t see all Disney has to offer even if you spend 2 full weeks there. Stay mellow and move at the baby’s pace.
Have I forgotten a piece of vital gear? Leave it in the comments below.