Planning on doing Disneyland with an infant? Just the idea of bringing babies to huge theme parks can be stressful and overwhelming for the whole family. Read on for our 5 favorite hacks for keeping everyone happy when bringing a baby to the most Magical Place on Earth.
I’m by no means a Disney fanatic, but I do love taking my family members to Disneyland, especially in smaller groups so we can really have a great, quality time together!
I’ve had to bring along a small baby twice on our Disney trips so far (once when Alice was a newborn, and earlier this year when Dean was teeny tiny) so I’ve collected a handful of hacks that kept me from going crazy when hauling a tiny baby around the Happiest Place on Earth.
If this is your first time bringing a baby to Disneyland and/or Disney California Adventure Park, it’s a good idea to get a map ahead of time to roughly plan your day.
1. Bring along a big kid or adult helper
Back when we took the whole family (all EIGHT kids) to Disneyland a few years ago, we brought along our young adult babysitter and she was an amazing help! It allowed Luke and I to go on rides with smaller groups of kids and to leave the baby behind for a few minutes here and there. Be sure to research the rider switch feature which will allow the parent who stays behind with the baby to be able to go on the ride too, without waiting in line twice.
If you can’t find an extra adult to bring along, older children (think responsible teens) work almost as well. Got an older niece, nephew or cousin that wants to tag along? These kids can be the perfect helpers to take older children on rides while you sit with the baby, or vice versa.
2. Bring a great baby carrier AND stroller
I love baby-wearing but walking around with even a tiny newborn strapped to you all over Disneyland for hours on end is exhausting (ask me how I know). I love a good combination of babywearing to keep baby close, happy and safe from germs as well as a comfortable stroller for baby to nap in and to give your back a break, especially if you’ve got hours of long lines ahead of you.
Double strollers are probably your best bet, because you can pack them full of kids, snacks and supplies! I’ve found that by the end of the day, even the oldest of kids will be begging for a ride in the stroller so the biggest one you can bring, the better! As long as it’s easy to push, it really doesn’t matter if you bring your own stroller or rent one there, although I always prefer to bring one I’m familiar with.
3. Find the Baby Care Centers and plan pit stops
One of my favorite parts of Disneyland is their baby care centers! They have a baby center in the main Disneyland park (at the end of Main Street) and one in Disney’s California Adventure (nest to Ghirardelli Soda Fountain). They are awesome little offices with first aid stations, changing tables, tiny toilets and sinks, baby food and microwaves and private cubicles to breastfeed or even pump milk.
I’ve used these centers countless times and every time I walk in, I just can’t get over how well planned out they are. This is a great place to pop in when baby becomes overstimulated or you just need a nice air-conditioned break to put your feet up and nurse in private.
This is also where you should go if you ever have the terrifying experience of being separated from a child and need help from a cast member to find them. Get more details about the baby care centers and see where they’re located in each park here.
4. Figure out which rides you can go on with baby
There are a surprising number of rides you can go on with a small baby, and many of them allow you to leave baby in a wrap or carrier. This is Disneyland, after all, and there’s no reason to feel left out of the fun just because you have an infant in tow.
Here’s a comprehensive and updated list of all rides and attractions that have no age or height requirement. It’s a Small World is always a great place to rest and recharge and it’s easy to breastfeed a baby in there.
While on this topic, it can be nice to know which popular rides are best left for older kids because they might be a little scary or overwhelming for younger ones. Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Snow White and Pirates of the Caribbean are all dark rides with loud noises and/or more mature elements.
5. Plan for hotel naps or quiet time
This is actually a tip that helps out ALL children under about age 8. If you’re a fan of hitting the park from open to close, an hour or two of rest time in the middle of the day can go a LONG way in avoiding meltdowns from babies and parents!
This is one reason we love staying within a quick walk of the park or better yet, a Disneyland resort; whenever baby starts to get totally overwhelmed and exhausted, we can walk back to the hotel room to rest and recharge. This is also a great time for the other adult/parent to have uninterrupted one-on-one time with the other kid(s).
A few more tips for making the most of your magival vacation:
• I also highly recommend downloading the Disneyland app for help finding the nearest restroom, a good place to eat, ordering food and so much more. Hands down the best feature of the app is being able to see wait times for rides all over the park. If your little kids are just done with waiting in line, you can quickly check the app for a ride that will get you on fast to eliminate tantrums.
• Downtown Disney is also a great place to partake of Disney magic, without even entering the parks. This is where we love to eat and shop before and after heading to the part. It’s a great option for slightly cheaper food and no pressure to book it to the next ride.
• Don’t forget to pack snacks, water bottles and even sack lunches if you want to save as much money as possible. Bringing small children to Disneyland means you get to deal with random requests for food or drink so being prepared with extra food for the entire family makes life so much easier.
I hope these ideas help you have the courage to go forward with your amazing trip to Disneyland with an infant on your hip. Disney parks really are magical for the whole family and they work hard to ensure even tiny babies are accomodated.