Many new parents realize that life with a baby is drastically different than it was before the little bundle of joy made their appearance. The changes that come along with welcoming a baby into the world are rarely more evident than when it comes time to take your first family vacation with your baby or toddler in tow. And, most hotels are far from “toddler proof,” so you may need to take some extra steps to keep your toddler safe when staying at one. Here are a few tips to follow to make your first overnight outing, as parents, go a little more smoothly.
Research your chosen hotel beforehand to help prepare
Luckily, parents these days are able to access plenty of hotel information before even arriving at their destination. Take advantage and look at your hotel’s website to get an idea of what your room will look like and what type of baby proofing might be required. Some higher end hotels offer baby proofing options for families, but we recommend always bringing your own gear to baby proof, just in case.
Upon arrival, set up a safe area for your toddler or baby
It can be difficult to assess for immediate hazards with your curious toddler already running around. So it’s wise to set up a safe playpen or travel crib where you can set your toddler down and know they are contained. A travel crib or playpen is a practical item to pack when staying at a hotel with a toddler because it offers a safe play area as well as a sleep area. Some hotels do offer cribs for your hotel room but you’ll have to call ahead to be sure this is an option.
How to assess your hotel room for any immediate hazards
Once your toddler is safe in their playpen, you can take some time to look around the hotel room and check for any immediate dangers. Most people can relate to finding small, random items on the floor of their hotel room such as paper clips, pens, or safety pins. You’ll obviously want to pick any of these items up off the floor to prevent your toddler from getting a hold of them and potentially putting them in their mouth.
Check under bathroom sinks for any cleaning fluids or other hazardous chemicals. Assess for any cords or outlets that your toddler could get into or pull on. If you don’t plan to use the hotel phone or other electronic items such as digital clocks, you could unplug them to prevent your toddler from pulling on the cords or knocking the electronics over.
Assess any furniture for sharp corners that your toddler could fall into. Some parents opt to cover these corners by taping washcloths to them. Plastic bags of any sort can be suffocation hazards, so you may want to remove the plastic bags from trash bins or move the trash bins out of your toddler's reach.
How to toddler-proof your hotel room
As mentioned above, some hotels offer baby proofing services but we recommend doing the job yourself, since you know your child best and can more easily assess the real risks. There are a few easy items you can pack that will help you make your hotel room more toddler-friendly. Here are the items we recommend bringing:
- Outlet covers to seal off power outlets. Toddlers love to check out power outlets and will stick their fingers in them if they can.
- Some type of tape such as painter’s tape can be beneficial to have on hand. You can use this tape to cover sharp corners, and secure cabinets shut. Duct tape is also an option but might leave a sticky residue on hotel furniture, so we recommend painter’s tape to avoid getting charged by your hotel.
- Rubber or plastic corner covers are also important since they allow you to cover sharp corners and prevent any injuries.
How to practice poolside safety
Most hotels offer a pool, which is one of the best parts of staying at a hotel with kids since it serves as a great way to keep them busy and tire them out. Pools come along with plenty of safety hazards as well so it is very important to exercise caution when taking little ones to a hotel pool. If your kids aren’t yet swimming, always make sure they are wearing floatation devices when around the pool area. Never leave children unattended to play at the pool, even if they do know how to swim.
How to communicate safety rules to your toddler
One of the most important steps that parents can take to keep toddlers safe at a hotel is to clearly communicate safety measures. Obviously, younger toddlers and babies may not be able to communicate well yet and might not fully understand but reinforcement is important and it’s never too early to start setting boundaries and limits. Clearly explain to your child what they are and aren’t allowed to do and explain why. Helping them understand why a rule is set in place will help them understand the importance of honoring it. Some examples include: no running in the lobby, down the halls, or around the pool deck and determining a meet up plan, in the event that you get separated by mistake.
How to practice elevator safety
For toddlers who are old enough to walk, it's possible to get separated on elevators. Sometimes the door doesn’t open back up when you need it to, or your child isn’t following behind you as you thought they were and you get on the elevator without them by mistake. Either way, it is important to think about this possibility and come up with a plan in case it does happen. Have a meeting spot, such as the hotel lobby, where your toddler can meet you in the event that you get separated. If your toddler is too young to follow these types of instructions, utilize the closest phone to notify the front desk so that the hotel security can help you and your child find each other.
The Pop N’ Go Playpen by California Beach Co. is a great travel accessory for parents of young toddlers. This spacious, lightweight playpen is the perfect travel crib and safe play spot for traveling families.