Walt Disney World: Maternity Leave Getaway

Like most people who frequently go to Walt Disney World, I went there as a kid and have many great memories with family and friends. I rode the roller coasters so many years in a row I could tell you all the variations of “Tower of Terror”. Shortly after marrying Mark, I convinced him of the Disney magic and we went with my immediate family as a group of adults. Going to WDW without kids? That’s crazy! But it was awesome, and he was hooked.

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Now, several years later, we go regularly, and I’m sure we will revisit some of our earlier trips with just Nolan to talk about what we enjoyed and what we learned. But today, I want to revisit a trip that was just for “the girls”. It was shortly after Annelise was born, and I was on maternity leave, when my parents casually mentioned…”you know, we’re going in January, you could just come with Annelise and stay”. I declined of course, as any mother of a 4-week old would do. But then, 6 weeks rolled around and I thought it would be good to get out of the house. So I booked a flight, moved up her first immunizations by a few days, and headed to WDW, 2 month old in tow (leaving behind Mark and Nolan).

It was really a win-win situation as  the only real cost was the flight for me, since I was going later in the year with the family so was able to use an annual pass. Not to mention my parents were thrilled to spend more time with the second baby in a closer way that they couldn’t do with my oldest running around. So let’s get into the details…

Flying with a Newborn

Having already gone through flying with a 6 month old, 9 month old, 13 month old and 2 year old – I was surprised at how amazingly easy it was to fly with a 2 month old. I packed one big bag for both of us, which I checked, gate-checked my City Mini stroller and then carried-on a diaper bag, and the baby in my Ergo carrier. One of the biggest perks of WDW – no need to bring carseats!

Weirdly, FAA doesn’t allow you to have the baby “in” the carrier during takeoff and landing, so I just unbuckled the main part but kept it around my waist. I held Annelise and nursed her on takeoff (using my Aden and Anais swaddle blanket as a cover). When she inevitably fell asleep I just buckled her back in the Ergo and had my hands free. I read a magazine, took a nap…wonderful.

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Disney World with a Newborn

  • Sleep: We are members of the Disney Vacation Club so we were in a studio which has amenities like a mini-refrigerator and a sink so I could wash bottles. They also have a pack-n-play which I used for Annelise. We had four of us in the room and it was cozy but just fine.
  • Feeding: I was nearing my back-to-work date so I was actually in the process of weaning Annelise, so I had a mix of nursing and formula. I’d say the nursing was actually easier most of the time – I usually could plan enough to be either in the room or near a Care Center when she needed to eat, and if not I had a formula bottle ready, though sometimes I’d need to head to a quiet place anyway to get her to take it.
  • Diapering: I read up on some of the “things to do” before going, but what I was most impressed by were the Care Centers in all the parks. Somehow, with Nolan, we never went to these, but now that I know they are there, we always prefer to go there for bathroom breaks. They have toddler size potties, changing tables, high chairs, eating tables, nursing rooms. So great. For in the room, I purchased some disposable diaper bags before going and they were a lifesaver to prevent the room from smelling like baby diapers (newborns use a LOT of diapers).
  • Carriers v. Strollers: Because the City Mini is so easy to use and I had help, I brought the stroller with me most of the time and I would switch between the Ergo and the stroller. Annelise preferred to snuggle up with me when she was napping, but was ok to cruise around in the stroller when she was awake – or when family wanted to play with her while I rode roller coasters. 🙂 Because she was sleeping or just “watching” most of the time, she was just toted around with the adults, which worked out pretty well.

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Some things certainly didn’t change on vacation like the regular wake-up calls at night, or the need to settle into an evening “calm” before bedtime. However, it was a really nice and relaxing time away for me, and really gave Annelise some extra attention before going back to the craziness of regular life. She certainly won’t remember meeting Mickey Mouse but I will remember it as our first “girls trip”.

Anyone else planning an adventure with a newborn? You should, trust me, it only gets harder!

– Stassja

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