Sleep Safety of babies and toddlers is something that can literally keep parents awake at night. When traveling, the problem gets exacerbated by the fact that the baby is already disconcerted with the break in routine. My son has a tendency to get overexcited when traveling. He just wants to stay up for as long as he can get away with it, up to the very last second he loses to the Sandman. At home, we co-sleep because the bed is large enough to do it safely, and it is backed up to the wall so less chances of our toddler falling from the bed. But hotels and inns often have beds in the middle of the room, and are not large enough to assure me of his safety. This is why I have learned to maximize the use of travel cribs, whether our own or that of the hotel we are staying in. Let me share with you these hard-earned nuggets:
BRING YOUR OWN vs. BORROW
We have our own travel crib which we trust. The pros of bringing your own gives you peace of mind that it is sturdy and it is clean. However, we soon found one very huge con --- it’s wieldy and takes up a lot of space. This is a real concern because we like stringing our trips together, to save on airfare. On a recent trip, we hit up Switzerland, France and Italy, and it was more practical to take the train or the plane to get to places. When we are going abroad and renting a car in that country is not an option, we were forced to borrow from the hotels we stayed in. So instead, I prepared to make sure the borrowed cribs were safe and sanitary for my kid. Here’s what I check for:
First of all, I call the hotels in advance to check if they offer a free option to set up a crib. I make sure they know that there is a baby with us and nicely ask if they could make a special effort to make sure the room they put us in is stroller and crib-friendly with good air quality (which is mom-speak for “nicer rooms with a view with elevator access”). You’d be surprised how accommodating hotels can be, especially if you ask politely and nicely.
Upon getting there, the first thing I do is to check for bed bugs. I make a beeline for the crib and lift the covers (and sometimes thin mattresses) to check for suspicious insects or rust-colored stains. Then I check our bed (including pillows and towels they sometimes put atop the duvet). When I am assured that there aren’t any bed bugs, I’m happy. When I’m not (hasn’t happened yet), the plan is to show the hotel staff evidences and ask to be transferred to another room in another part of the hotel.
We’ve been to hotels (in Manila) who gets overexcited about making the crib ultra-cutesy. One placed matching pillows and blanket on the crib. Often, I take them out. But if they are really thin and looks breathable (like a muslin blanket), I use it for naps when an adult can supervise the baby.
I also refer to some very helpful resources online. One of the best ones so far is this article on the Baby Sleep Advice site which you could read here. Here’s some of the tips I found most helpful on making sure your child’s bed is safe:
No toys, pillows, quilts, stuffed animals, strings in the bed. In short: a safe bed holds the baby and nothing but the baby.
Overall, I just make sure that the room we are staying in is clean and well-ventilated. This may mean choosing slightly costlier rooms in more decent areas of the city we are in. But until my son can backpack like momma, I’d rather stay safe than be sorry. Wouldn’t you?
Lately, I have seen products I would like to try next time so we could bring our own travel crib. Do let me know if you have used the Lillebaby Eurotot and the Baby Bjorn Travel Lightly because they both look like a good idea.
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Smell ya later,