Parents spend countless hours researching and reviewing products and baby-proofing their homes to keep their children safe, but what happens when you leave your protective cocoons for a family vacation? While you can’t provide the same level of fortification that you do at home, there are still many ways that you can baby-proof your hotel room.
While you may have traveled often before your baby arrived, there is an entirely different set of rules to follow and things to look for when you are traveling as a family with young kids. Here is a handy list of things to look out for when you arrive at your hotel room with your baby or toddler, and additional information on items you will need to bring with you to make that vacation room safe for your entire family.
Before You Go, Call Ahead!
Before even going on your trip, it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask whether your room has certain features or amenities. You can also check the hotel’s website, but sometimes it’s good to talk with someone who works at the hotel itself, since the website’s information might be out of date.
Some things to ask about:
- Does the room have a sliding glass door or balcony? If so, ask for one without that feature.
- What large furniture is in the room, are the items bolted down or otherwise secured?
- Does the hotel keep a supply of any child proofing items (many do!)
- What should parents plan to bring that the hotel doesn’t supply?
Planning ahead and packing the right items could save you some bit headaches when you arrive!
Child-Proof Packing List
Before getting into the actual child-proofing tasks themselves, here’s a list of items you should pack to bring with you:
- Roll of duct tape
- Six window latches or latch guards
- A dozen or more outlet protectors
- Four or more cord clamps and shorteners (or use duct tape)
- A toilet lock (or use duct tape)
- Door knob covers for interior doors (try to have at least two)
- Wash cloths (to cover sharp corners)
If you travel often, you may want to keep a supply of these items in a toiletry bag or dopp kit – or even a large Ziploc baggie – so that you don’t have to remember to pack them every time.
Baby-Proofing the Hotel Room
When you arrive at your room, here are some things you can do right away to make sure your baby or toddler is safe from any potential dangers. Doing all of these things should take no more than 20 minutes – unless, of course, you are in the Presidential Suite or something!
Hide Outlets and Cords
A package of outlet covers is an inexpensive way to safely and quickly babyproof all of the outlets in the room. Don’t forget to look down by the bed and night stand, near the vanity, behind any chairs, and in the bathroom. Hotel rooms sometimes have hidden outlets that your child can easily uncover, so do a thorough check when you first arrive in your room.
When it comes to cords, you have a few choices. You can completely remove the offending item (such as a small lamp or radio alarm clock) by calling the front desk and asking them to take it out during your stay. If that isn’t an option or it is a larger item like a television, bring a few cord shortening clamps with you. These easy-to-find clamps keep the electrical cords at a short length to prevent strangulation hazards. Duct tape can also work in a pinch!
Don’t forget to check for cords on blinds or curtains and put those out of reach as well. Check bathroom and closet drawers for other corded items such as hair dryers or irons, and secure those cords as well.
Remove All Plastic Bags
Hotel rooms are notoriously full of plastics, since they are easily disposable for one time use. Place all plastic-wrapped cups, cosmetic bottles, or other items securely out of reach (the top of the closet makes a good spot), and move any trash cans with plastic bag liners to a safe spot, such as the bathroom (as long as you bring a lock to baby-proof the door knob!) or closet.
Be sure to check for hanging plastic laundry bags in the closet or dresser drawers, to avoid all suffocation hazards.
Secure All Doors
The front door, the bathroom door, any between room doors, and all windows need to be secured. Bring baby-proof doorknob covers for interior doors, and use latch guards or window stops. Be extra careful with sliding doors that lead to a balcony. Consider asking for a different room, and if that isn’t possible, keep the door securely locked and use a strong window latch.
Also be sure to check and secure all interior doors, such as cabinets, the mini bar, and the closet. Some of these may lock securely, but others may need to be duct-taped shut. Look inside for any small objects. If you’re curious about what items could be dangerous, we wrote about choking hazard warnings here.
Put Glass Items Out of Reach
The ice bucket and glasses might seem innocuous, but if baby gets ahold of them, it can be a different story. The ice bucket (which is often lined with a plastic bag) can be a suffocation hazard, so remove it from the room if you won’t be using it, or put it out of reach in the closet. Remove any glass cups or mugs and use disposable plastic versions instead, which won’t smash into pieces if dropped.
Soften Sharp Surfaces
Dressers, nightstands, desks, and counters can all have protruding sharp corners. If this is the case, tape a balled-up washcloth over any corner that is at your child’s height. This can help prevent the most serious sharp edge injuries.
Disable Access to Water Sources
Drowning can happen at any time, in under an inch of water, and hot water can burn your child’s sensitive skin. Even though you are securing your bathroom door, also take precautions when it comes to water sources in your room – especially if there is a sink outside the bathroom door.
Lock or tape the toilet lid shut. Also, make sure that your baby or child can’t reach the taps in the shower or sinks, since the water will likely get much hotter than your water at home, and it can scald.
Check for Choking Hazards
Loose drawer pulls, items left behind by other guests or housekeeping, even a loose roll of toilet paper, can all become choking hazards. Do a thorough sweep of the room and secure any item that would fit inside a toilet paper tube (which is an easy way to see if it is small enough to choke on). Don’t forget to look under the bed.
Always Consider the Child’s View
After doing everything listed above, it is a good idea to get down on the ground and crawl around at your child’s height. The different perspective may show you a cord, outlet, sharp corner, or loose item that you may have previously missed.
And there you have it! Keeping your family safe while on the go takes a little time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it easily enough, and pretty soon you’ll be able to baby-proof your hotel room in no time at all!