Monday, October 5, 2009

Surviving A Day In The Parks With A Baby: Equipment List

When I became a mom, I discovered that the tiny little purse I had downsized to was going to have to go back into the closet for a while. Or at least into the much roomier diaper bag. Trips to the store suddenly required a shoulder-bag worth of accouterments and careful planning to ensure I was ready for any sort of meltdown (mine or my daughter's).

Of course, if a trip to the store requires significant equipment, you can imagine what a day in a Disney Park requires. However, it's very easy to overpack or underpack, and neither is very pleasant. It's very important to be organized so you are sure you have all you need and a little bit of what you might need. I love to tell the story of when I accidentally left our diaper pad (along with diapers and wipes) in the car when we spent a day at SeaWorld with a five-month-old. We didn't mean to do it, but we did because we were not organized and simply didn't grab all the stuff we intended to bring into the parks with us. Without going into detail, let's just say that a diaper blow-out in a restaurant while the baby is eating her lunch in your lap is a mighty unpleasant experience... ESPECIALLY when one member of your party has to run all the way back to the car to get clean-up supplies.

So here is our strategy. It should be noted that we use strollers instead of carriers, so you may need to adopt this if you are opting to go without a stroller or with a stroller that does not have a basket for storage. We are also a two-parent family that stays together at all times. If you are a single parent or have more than one infant, there may be more need to adapt. As your children get older, the need to carry tons of stuff does decrease. Our plan is for when you have at least one member of your party that is not toilet-trained.

We take two bags into the parks. One is a medium-sized backpack (ours came from R.E.I.) and the other is a J.J. Cole Logic Bag. Neither bag is huge, but the reason we take two is because one stays in the stroller at all times with supplies that are less urgent, but still important. Both bags are carried in a backpack style, and this is important for loading and unloading onto buses and monorails. Because really, you can carry as much stuff as you'd like, but in the end, you have to be able to effectively use your method of transportation without ticking off everyone else in line. And even if you drive your own car, there is a good chance you will have to take a tram to your car, which means folding your stroller.

The reason I recommend the Logic Bag specifically is because of all its very nifty compartments coupled with its ergonomic design. It keeps you very organized and distributes the weight of what you are carrying evenly across your back. The water bottle holder even keeps you a little cool at first. (If you have an infant, you may choose to use this for bottles instead of water).
So what's in each bag? Glad you asked. The lists are below. Remember, the backpack stays in the stroller, even when we park the stroller to visit attractions. The Logic Bag comes with us into every venue.



  • Prepacked snacks or snacks in small ziplock bags or small 1-cup Tupperware-type containers. (the number you take depends on how many kids and how long you will be in the parks... but we always have at least two).
  • Change of clothes for Mom and Dad (for water rides or a particularly nasty diaper blow-out).
  • Plastic bag to hold wet or dirty clothes
  • Burp cloths if you have an infant
  • Extra receiving blanket or two if you have an infant
  • Formula and water if you have an infant and are not breastfeeding. I don't recommend bringing in pre-made formula, even in a small cooler. It's hot in Florida. I just don't trust it.
  • Ponchos (in case of rain)
  • Sippy cup (empty... you can fill it at the parks)
  • Your favorite analgesic for aches and pains
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent or wipes
  • Bandages and antibacterial ointment for the unlikely boo-boo or likely blister
  • Extra camera batteries, memory cards, and a tripod.
Logic Bag
  • Diapers (enough for one day - don't pack too many. Diapers are available at really high prices in the gift shops if you happen to run out. Ask at the counter. But generally, you won't run out.)
  • Wipes in a travel container
  • Hand Sanitizer (or antibacterial wipes if you don't feel comfortable with the ingredients of hand sanitizers)
  • Extra Pacifier (if the child is young enough)
  • Camera
  • Change of clothes for child (specifically for food issues and diaper blow-outs. I recommend two shirts and one pair of shorts per child)
  • Money
  • Tickets
  • Mobile phone
  • Pen and small notepad to jot down memories/track expenses/note photographs
So that's it! Pack your bags and enjoy your day. Rest assured that anything else you need is available in the parks. Cast members will go out of their way to help you. But this should cover you for most situations. Did we leave anything important off our list? Let us know in the comments!

3 comments:

guyofsound said...

Don't forget a park map!! Speaking from experience as a younger park guest not that many years ago I can certainly remember being dragged to the closest "You are here" kiosk. They are ALWAYS across from something that the young one MUST DO NOW. Meltdowns are quick to follow when trying to drag Dad to the next ride while he tries to read the community map while other families are taking family pictures in front of said map... Its much easier to read your private map from the comfort of a nearby bench.

On our last visit (I'm no longer in the MUST DO NOW age category) we were standing outside a shop reviewing our map. A cast member snuck up right between us and asked "may I help you get lost?" She offered us fast passes and answered all of our questions that we'd generated since getting there that morning. It definitely had the Disney spirit!

Scott

Katie said...

Great idea to bring 2 bags, I never thought of that! We also check the weather before we leave and if we see rain in the forecast we buy a cheap plastic table cloth and clothes pins from the dollar store to cover our stroller when we are in the attractions.

We also put 1 or 2 diapers, wipes and a changing table cover in a ziploc bag and place this in our bag so that is all we have to grab when we run in for a bathroom break.

Christine said...

We generally did't leave a backpack/diaper bag in the stroller since it is more likely to be rifled through. Instead dh and I both carried a medium to light bag with the important stuff (small amount of snacks, camera, phone, park info, a few small toys/amusements, dollar store ponchos, etc).. then in the bottom of the stroller I placed two plastic bags (generic supermarket.. WDW ones may be considered full of recently purchased items!). One bag held diapers, travel wipes, and the changing pad from our diaper bag (which we didn't bring in the park) and the other held a change of clothes for the little one as well as sweatshirts for everyone else. Having the diaper changing gear under the stroller allowed dh and I to be more flexible when it came time for diaper duty.
I would also highly recommend disposable sippy cups. They are easy to reuse when you would like to but if left behind in a restaurant or dropped, there are no worries. We generally carried 2 or 3 with us (two stashed away, nestled inside each other).

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