Now that summertime is here, vacations are on everyone’s minds. And if you are living in Florida with children, Disney World is probably on your radar. If you’re planning to visit Disney with a nursing child, here is my experience on our first trip there with a toddler.
Nursing for us hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but it has been the single best thing for my relationship with my son, now 19 months. Nursing in public has been something that I have had to grow into doing. The first couple of outings when he was still a newborn, I was nervous and hesitant to nurse while out, fearful of someone making a comment or gawking. I came prepared with a blanket that I could cover him with, but found that I rarely felt the need to use it. As I became more and more comfortable with nursing in general, nursing in public came easier to us both. Now I have no qualms about where I nurse him or who may be watching. I am being a parent the best way I know how by meeting my child’s needs and if anything, I hope that NIP will bring some normalcy to breastfeeding in our culture. Luckily. I have never experienced any negativity while NIP, though I always am thinking of a few one-liners in case I need to keep any naysayers in check ;)
We decided, spur of the moment, do take a trip to Disney World for a few days in early June. A few things you should know about my son; one, he doesn’t like long car rides, two, he doesn’t like sitting in a stroller and three, though he is eating solids, he nurses frequently (5-6 times a day). We were most nervous about the car ride, how many stops we’d have to make to accommodate him, how to keep him entertained, etc. But surprisingly, he did very well. We packed some new toys to keep his interest and only found the need to stop once at Ft. Pierce for a snack and a diaper change. He did get very cranky towards the end of the ride, probably because he needed a nap but rarely will fall asleep in the car. For babies that don’t like car rides, I would just advise to keep a very lax schedule and agenda. We didn’t have any time expectations and even anticipated making many stops along the way. Don’t stress yourself out with strict deadlines if you don’t need to. During our trip, we also didn’t put the pressure of time lines on ourselves. We stayed at one of the resorts, so transportation in and out of the parks was easy by bus. We had hoped he would take some sort of mini nap while being worn in a carrier, but it didn’t turn out as planned (like everything else with children!) So around 3pm every day, we would return to our hotel room for naptime. This actually worked in our favor, because since he took a later nap than usual, we were able to stay out later than his at-home schedule. It’s vacation after all; try not to worry about keeping a rigid schedule (unless the baby needs that, of course). We found it easier to just run by his cues, rather than making plans.
I also mentioned that my son does not like being in a stroller. Since we baby wear regularly and he likes walking a lot, we decided not to bring ours. In hindsight, we probably could have used it, if only to hold our bags, had he decided not to sit in it. I carried a medium sized purse and my husband carried a backpack, so between those, we fit everything we needed. We carried him for the majority of the time, which was a definite workout. We used our Tula soft structured carrier, making the frequent up and downs easy. If your baby will sit in a stroller, by all means bring one. If they don’t, I would suggest bringing or renting anyways. The only challenge we saw to families that had strollers was the frequent closing and opening of it to get on buses, trolleys, etc. With that being said, almost every family there had a stroller, so for the most part Disney World accommodates them in all other settings.
Now onto the nursing. It was definitely not anything that I saw other mothers doing. In fact, I can’t remember ever noticing another mama nursing her child (not to say it wasn’t happening, just that I didn’t witness it). However, we had no problems nursing in the park, and did it frequently. Disney World is definitely a sensory overload for little ones, with gigantic sights and sounds around every turn. My son was able to find comfort at my breast whenever he felt overwhelmed. I nursed primarily while wearing him and no one around knew the wiser. It was very discreet, so if you have a carrier and are hesitant to NIP, I would recommend using one. It will make your life easier. On some of the rides, It’s A Small World in Magic Kingdom, and The Great Movie Tour in Hollywood Studios, I nursed him during the ride on my lap as well. He eats most of the food that we eat, so we didn’t pack any additional snacks for him, but I did see some other families who had packed foods for their kids without problem. Another obvious perk to breastfeeding is no need to pack any bottles!
After we returned from our trip, I heard that all the theme parks actually have baby centers, which even have nursing rooms with rocking chairs. I didn’t have the opportunity to experience these facilities, but what a great idea to take a breather and relax with your baby amidst all wonderful new chaos. I would definitely recommend looking up those locations on your map during your next trip to Disney World.
Overall, our experience was great and we had no problems with any staff or other vacationers. My son loved his time there and was able to experience many new things, all while still having the comfort of having his “milky” whenever he needed it.
Christine a mother of one from Florida. She is also a consultant with Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, please check out her business page here.