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Preparing for a Florida vacation with Babies and Children

Getting ready to go

 Preparing for a Florida vacation with Babies and Childern                    Preparing for a Florida vacation with Babies and Childern

Is it a good idea to take my baby to Florida? Yes, of course. In terms of child friendly vacations, they don’t come much friendlier than this!  Thousands of babies visit Florida every year and yours will be very welcome too!  But you are absolutely right to ask the question. Of course, there are a few considerations and preparations to make, but common sense, your own instincts, and the information you will find here will help you make the right decisions.

How old should my baby be to travel? If your baby is newborn, he should be able to fly after his two week check up as long as neither he nor you has any health problems and he was not born prematurely. 

Ideally, wait until your baby is at least three months old to give his immune system a chance to develop and give you the chance to settle after the birth.  A vacation can be disruptive to routines, feeding and sleep patterns so it is probably worth waiting until your baby is that little bit older.

Babies in the sun. Once in Florida, your main concern health-wise will probably be the sun.  The sun is strong in Florida and you do need to be very careful, as you would anywhere else, and choose the right baby sun protection. With sensible planning and the purchase of the right equipment before you travel, you need not worry.

A full sunscreen for prams and buggies is advisable for very small babies for sun protection.  Parasols which attach to the buggy are fine, but you need to keep a very careful eye on the angle of the parasol to make sure it is providing full cover at all times.

High factor sun creams are an absolute must and should be applied before you leave Windsor Palms and regularly reapplied.

Baby sun hats and cover up clothes are also very important – always carry a spare hat in case you lose one.

Don’t be deceived by cloudy days!  The rays of the sun are still harmful, even in overcast or rainy weather, so always use suncream and cover up.

Babies in the heat. You may also worry about the heat in Florida.   Be assured that, of course, there are many Florida babies living quite happily in the heat.  Just use common sense and follow our tips:

When you are waiting for anything, wait in the shade.

At mealtimes, choose a seat indoors in the air conditioning to give you all a break from the heat.

Head for one of the Baby Care Centers in all four of the parks at Walt Disney World for a cool down during the hottest midday hours of the day.

Duck into a shop for a few minutes browsing in an air conditioned environment.

Give your baby plenty of fluids to keep him hydrated.  If you are breastfeeding, you will also need to increase your own liquid intake significantly in the heat.

Dress your baby in long, cool clothing.  Use natural fibres such as cottons and linens.  Muslins are also very useful.

If your baby is in a sling, tuck a muslin into the top of the sling to hang down over his legs, keep his arms covered, and apply a large baby sun hat!

Remember that a baby in a sling will also absorb your body heat, so do not leave your baby ‘on you’ for long periods of time.  Alternate with a stroller or buggy.  You can hire infant strollers in the theme parks.  Depending on your baby’s age, a backpack baby carrier can be very useful as these tend to separate the baby’s body from your own.

Pick your travel dates with the heat in mind and choose a cooler time to holiday.

What's the best time of year to travel to Florida with a baby?

It’s all going to depend on whether any of your kids are school age.  If they are not, try to take advantage of the off peak dates outside school holidays, but also remember to consider the American holidays so you can avoid crowds in the parks.  If you are restricted by school holiday dates, a good tip is to look at dates right at the end of the summer holidays.

Consider the heat and try to avoid the hottest summer months if you have little ones.

January is a great time to go to Orlando with babies.  The parks are quiet so the queues are short, the weather is generally good, but not too hot.  Early December is also a good choice, and gives the extra advantage of Christmas shopping opportunities.

Disney gives the following guidance to attendance in the parks:

Lowest Attendance: January (ex. New Year’s Day) through to mid Feb/first week in Sept through to mid-Nov, first three weeks of Dec prior to Christmas.

Moderate Attendance: Mid Feb through early March: Late April through early June (ex. Memorial Day weekend, last weekend in May).

Highest Attendance: US Presidents’ week in mid Feb : Mid March through late April (US school Spring Break) : Last weekend in May (US Memorial Day holiday) : Mid-June through beginning Sept : US Thanksgiving (last Thurs in Nov plus weekend) : Christmas through to New Year’s Day.

What to pack

Read our top tips about what to pack in your main and hand luggage, and those all important air travel restrictions on liquids and baby food.

Baggage Restrictions and Regulations

Airlines are constantly updating their restrictions for baggage allowances and hand luggage so you should always check before you travel both with regard to number of bags allowed and size/weight restrictions.  Children and infants may also qualify for their own baggage allowances too, depending on your airline.

As a general rule, cabin baggage must be no bigger, including wheels, handles and any side pockets, than:

  • 56 centimetres tall (22 inches)
  • 45 centimetres wide (17.7 inches)
  • 25 centimetres deep (10 inches)

As you may know, stricter regulations on hand-luggage liquids have been introduced. They have been eased slightly, recently to allow things like gels, lotions, pastes, liquid cosmetics, foams and other liquid-based items through security check points but it is important to note that the liquids cannot be carried in containers larger than 100ml. These containers must be brought to the airport contained in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, which itself must not exceed 1 litre in capacity (approximately 20cm x 20cm). The contents of the plastic bag must fit comfortably and the bag must be sealed.

Each passenger may carry only one such bag of liquids. The bag must be presented for examination.

Liquids that can not be placed inside the re-sealable bag must be packed into the hold luggage and checked in. Liquids of any amount can still be carried in luggage checked into the aircraft hold so for any liquids that aren’t necessities for the actual flight, place them in your suitcase.

Remember, children are usually allowed to carry a piece of hand luggage.  Even if it’s only a tiny rucksack with a few crayons and toys, give them something to carry.  It will make them feel part of the whole experience, plus it’s one less thing for you.

What to pack for your baby – hand luggage

As a general rule, when travelling with babies, it is a good idea to keep travelling documentation about your person in an easily accessible place eg. a cross body pouch, small handbag (which can fit inside your main hand luggage) or moneybelt.  The ideal hand luggage is a backpack, leaving both your hands free to deal with your baby.

This is a suggested checklist of things to pack in hand luggage when taking a baby to Orlando.  We suggest you take enough of each essential to cover unforeseen flight delays.  Although airlines do carry limited supplies of items such as nappies and baby food, these are never guaranteed.

  • Made up formula milk in pre-sterilised bottles.  You are allowed to take as much baby milk as you need for your flight through security, although you will be asked to sip it.  The same applies to sterilised water and ‘liquid or pasted’ baby food.  Most airlines will warm up baby milk for you on board – this is done by immersing the bottle in hot water.
  • Diapers, wipes, diaper bags
  • Snacks: ricecakes, breadsticks, raisins, carrots, apple and small sandwiches provide maximum occupation for minimum mess.  Avoid chocolate, pastry, and soft fruits – too messy.
  • If you have a long flight take at least one meal you can be sure your child will eat: the flight from the UK to Orlando is around nine hours.  Even if you have ordered a kids meal for your child, there’s a reasonable chance he won’t want to eat it, either at a convenient time, or at all. You do not want to be left balancing a tray of uneaten food.  Bring something he loves as a back-up, so you won’t have to worry.  Some airlines will warm up baby food for you, but not all.
  • Drinks:  You won’t be allowed to take children’s drinks through security other than ‘baby juice’ (which you will have to sip) so you will need to buy them in the departure lounge.  A good tip is to bring an empty tippee cup with you, then transfer the drink in.  This saves on the inevitable squeezing of the juice carton and subsequent spillages.  Also, be aware that the pressure inside sealed cups can build up within the aircraft, so flip up the lid to allow the air out once you’re airborne.
  • Bibs and baby spoons
  • Sealable see-thru plastic bags: invaluable for holding dirty cutlery, half eaten snacks, wet bibs etc.
  • Toys: lots of small toys are better than one big one.  If your baby is very small, bring buggy toys which can be attached to the seat to save you retrieving them from the floor/aisle/other people’s laps.  If your baby is old enough, crayons and paper are great, as are the ‘magic’ colouring sets which use ‘invisible’ (and therefore non-marking) pens.
  • Spare clothes; and not just for the baby.  It is quite likely that there will be a spillage or accident of some sort, so bring a spare set of lightweight clothes for all of you, just in case.
  • Comfort item: could be a blanket, a toy, or a favourite piece of material.  Airplanes are strange places, and your baby will be comforted by the smell of something familiar.
  • Travel changing mat
  • A soother or a bottle to suck on during take-off and landing to relieve ear pressure. Breastfeeding can help at these times too, although you will have to be able to manage it whilst the baby is strapped into his seatbelt on your lap.
  • Something warm: Whilst most aircraft carry blankets for night flights, it can get cold on board at any time.
  • Any medication; eg. ventolin, calpol sachets, bonjela etc.  Remember, all liquids (including creams) must be limited to 100ml unless purchased after security.

What to pack for your baby – main luggage

Clothes: Florida has a tropical climate so it is usually warm, sometimes scorching, and often a bit wet.  In the winter, the evenings can get chilly.  So that means a wide range of clothing.

For your baby, clothes should be loose, comfortable, layered and provide good skin cover.  In the Florida sunshine, it is very easy for even a small exposed section of skin to become badly burnt, so bring long sleeved t-shirts and thin, long trousers.  These will also provide good protection against mosquitoes in the evenings.  Baby sun hats or a cap with a brim are also essential.  Bring a spare too.

All Windsor Palms homes are air conditioned, so bring adequate pyjamas or sleep suits.

  • If your baby is walking, make sure that shoes are well fitting before you go and bring the most comfortable and hard wearing shoes he owns.  For a ‘cruising’ baby, a spare pair of shoes is useful in case you lose one.  You don’t want to have to change all your entertainment plans to go shoe shopping.
  • Baby swimwear, including swim nappies and armbands, rings etc.  A cover up, UV sun protection suit is also advisable.
  • Baby monitor with adaptor if you are sleeping in a separate toom to your baby.
  • Stroller with parasol or sun screen.  Sling and or baby backpack.
  • Day coolbag.
  • Baby sunglasses.
  • Sarong: folds up small and very useful for keeping off the sun, hanging inside car windows, covering strollers, sitting on, or wearing if your own clothes get wet.
  • Sun cream: put this somewhere easily accessible in your luggage in case you need it on arrival.  Choose high factors for babies.  The coloured, spray on type is easy to apply and ensures you won’t miss any spots.
  • Sterilising equipment if needed.
  • Mosquito repellent, there will be times when you will be outside at dusk, when the mosquitoes will be at their most active.  Make sure you buy sprays which are suitable for your child’s age range.
  • Some staple food you can rely on; eg. wrap up a few Weetabix, a couple of jars of baby food, some of your child’s favourite pasta in a plastic bag, etc.  Although you will be able to buy everything you need in Orlando, there may be times you get caught out and you won’t want to interrupt your schedule to go shopping.
  • Formula milk.  Although you can buy formula milk in Orlando, you might prefer to maintain consistency by not changing your baby’s brand. Don’t forget your travel bottles.
  • Non-bio washing powder.  Your baby may have an upset stomach or have the odd accident, and you may need to wash clothes or sheets out.
  • Baby cutlery, bowls and cups.
  • Favourite CDs to play in the car.  Disney tunes go down well…
  • First Aid Kit including: Calpol, diaper rash cream, calamine lotion (for sunburn), anti-histamine, teething gel, plasters & bandages, antiseptic, cotton wool, rehydration powders (such as Dioralyte), thermometer, cough medicine.  Any other prescribed medicine. If you have room:
  • Non-slip travel bath mat.

Other Florida Baby travel advice

Baby supplies can be bought from various outlets in Orlando.  Head to Walgreens, or try Publix, CVS, Goodings or Walmart all close by on US192. 

When you make your booking with your chosen owner, pre-book a cot/crib if you need one. To avoid confusion, ask for a ‘crib’.  The word ‘cot’ in the States means a rollaway bed (for which there is always a charge).

If your baby requires medication which has to be refrigerated, advise your airline before you travel.