By Ashley Rudnick & Chad Rudnick, M.D.
After a magical weekend with the mouse and our 19 month old in tow, we thought we’d share a blog on the trials and tribulations of Disney through the lens of the “Mommy Recommended, Pediatrician Approved” looking glass. Here are some of our best recommendations for a successful trip with a baby or toddler in tow.
1. The Elmo Pandora Station
Mommy’s Comments: The trip from Boca up to Orlando is 3 hours on the dot. We like to leave early in the morning, after eating breakfast, and get everything ready in the car the night before we go. This way, Aria has a nice, full tummy for the trip. Even with packing toys, books, and more toys to cure backseat boredom, the true savior was the Elmo Pandora radio station. I know what you’re thinking. “There is NO way I will be listening to the Itsy Bitsy Spider, sung by a high-pitched red monster for the entire drive.” But I’m here to tell you that Itsy Bitsy Spider beats screaming backseat baby ANY DAY! Our bite-sized backseat princess was clapping, singing, and even dosed off the last hour of the trip listening to Elmo. Mommy and Daddy were quick to change the station as soon as she fell asleep (No offense, Elmo), but the music definitely helped keep her happy and entertained.
Dr. Rudnick’s Comments: Distractions on long car trips are a must. While sleeping for a period of the trip would be ideal, it is easier said than done. Having toys, activity books, and music can help keep a fussy toddler distracted and engaged so that they are happy passengers! Another tip is to avoid periods of hunger for kids while on long car trips. Healthy snacks and drinks can help keep tantrums at bay.
2. Travel Disinfecting Wipes
Mommy’s Comments: As soon as we checked into the hotel, I broke out my trusty wipes and disinfected the crib from top to bottom. When she was a baby (pre-walking days), we would lay a bed sheet down on the floor, so she never was crawling directly on the carpet. Even though our room looked immaculate, it’s never ready until it’s had the “mommy once over!”
Dr. Rudnick’s Comments: It is no secret that hotel rooms are germ filled, even after being cleaned by hotel staff. Sanitizer or cleansing wipes can help reduce the exposure to germs left behind. One area that is often overlooked is the TV remote. This is usually one of the dirtiest spots in a hotel room (even more than a toilet seat)! Cleansing wipes over the remote can help, but another tip taught to me by a pediatric infectious disease colleague is to put the remote in a ziploc bag as soon as you get into the hotel room. The remote will still work and you won’t have to touch it the whole trip. Note: never allow babies or toddlers to play with plastic bags of any kind because of the risk of suffocation or choking hazard.
3. Healthy Snack Options
Mommy’s Comments: We were really impressed with Disney’s healthy snack options throughout the parks. While there are definitely more Mickey ice cream bars around than apples, there are a variety of locations that offer carrots, bananas, grapes, carrots, apples, and bottled water. For special dietary restrictions or allergies, Disney is really great about going the extra mile when you first book your reservation. We also brought a snack kit from home, which helped big time!
Dr. Rudnick’s Comments: Packing healthy snacks is a great way to avoid giving too many unhealthy options to your children during your trip. I often tell parents to buy a special Disney water bottle and snack container to pack healthy options before getting to the park. Give the water bottle and snack container to your child as if it was a new gift for them! For children with food allergies, packing your epinephrine auto-injector (i.e. EpiPen) along with Benadryl is a must.
4. Travel High Chair/High Chair Cover
Mommy's Comments: Perhaps one of the most common places for your little one to pick up germs is in a restaurant high chair. Think of (if you dare) all of the yuckiness that goes on in a high chair. While I’m sure Disney is cleaning these regularly, I’m not sure how often they are cleaned and how thorough the cleaning is. Your best bet to keep your little one out of germ’s way is to bring your own travel high chair or high chair cover. The travel high chair folds up easily and can be stored in the bottom of your stroller. We wrote about the travel high chair in a previous blog, as it’s a great travel companion for the hotel room and for going out and about. You’ll get lots of, “Wow! Where did you get that?” comments from restaurant staff and other parents, and it’s a great way to keep your little one close to you and the table, without any communal high chair germs.
Dr. Rudnick’s Comments: I think Ashley covered this one well.
5. Hand Sanitizer
Mommy’s Comments: There are thousands and thousands of people touching every railing, counter top, finger ticket scan, and ride handle bar every single day. While it’s ideal to squeeze as many actual soap/water sessions as you can in a day, it’s not always practical. Hand sanitizer was our BFF. After every ride, character meet and greet, and before/after eating, we were really thorough with this and voila, we brought home a healthy toddler! I really like the one pictured above from Babyganics!
Dr. Rudnick’s comments: While soap and water should still be used regularly, especially before eating meals and after using the restroom, hand sanitizers work great to keep unnecessary exposures to viruses and bacteria to a minimum. With any of the hand sanitizers available, make sure to rub it in well on your child’s hands and allow the hands to air dry completely before they eat or put their hands in their mouth. If you wipe their hands with a towel before the sanitizer is dry, they you are missing out on the cleaning power of the solution.
Hand washing tip: teach your child to sing the Happy Birthday song twice in their head as they wash their hands. This will ensure proper lather on the hands prior to rinsing. More tips on hand washing from AllThings Pediatric.
Thanks for reading and we'll see ya real soon!
After a day at Magic Kingdom, sleeping beauty was OUT!