By Michelle Rowley, VacaDUN Baby Gear Rentals
Traveling with babies can be a fun, richly rewarding experience for the whole family. Whether it’s a trip flying across the country or a weekend trip driving in the country, “baby on board” can lead to great memories and a needed respite from the daily routine.
But home or away, babies need sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants 4-12 months old need 12-16 hours of sleep every 24 hours, and kids 1-2 years need 11-14 hours. New environments – like hotels or rentals homes – can represent challenges to those goals and needs.
Another challenge is the availability of baby equipment on the road that’s appropriate for infant sleeping. Babies should never share a bed — soft mattresses and sleeping with adults run an unacceptable risk of entrapment and suffocation. Nor should a baby ever be placed on a couch or any flat surface not specifically designed and approved for infant sleep.
Whether it’s bringing gear from home – or renting from a baby equipment service like VacaDUN Baby Gear Rentals – parents increasingly have more options for safe baby sleeping. But be diligent and do your homework; the first priority is safety, and be sure the gear you’re bringing or renting has safety standards first on the list.
Sleep can be in a bassinet, crib, travel crib or play yard such as a pack ‘n play that conforms to current United States Consumer Protection Safety Commission safety standards (i.e. slates spacing less than 2 3/8″, firm mattress with a snug fit to the crib, no drop sides).
Keep in mind that according to experts, “bassinets” (small baby beds with low walls) should only be used until about 5 months. Once your baby can sit up, usually around 6 months, he/she needs something with higher walls, such as a Pack ‘n Play or a real crib.
PACK N PLAYS & PORTABLE CRIBS
Pack ‘n plays – also called playards and playpens – are economical, safe choices for travel. There are many options, for example:
• The Lotus Everywhere by Guava is a portable crib with a unique zippered side opening for snuggling with a sleeping baby. This eco-health option uses materials without flame-retardants and has a soft mattress. According to Guava, the Everywhere has a “greengold” standard certification and is free of flame retardant chemicals.
• The Graco Pack ‘n Play is a quality travel crib and playard for infants to toddlers. It’s great for on the go sleeping. Most families will be pleased with the features, functionality and overall quality of the Pack ‘n Play, especially since it comes with a bassinet, play mobile, diaper storage bag and a changing station making it one of the full-featured options available.
If your child is beyond the newborn stage, baby cribs are usually the go-to option. But beware – not all hotel or rental cribs are created equal, and not all have updated safety features or come with the most appropriate options.
For example, it’s important to have a firm crib mattress until your baby reaches the toddler stages. Softer, cushion-like sleep surfaces for infants may lead to suffocation due to the mattress forming to your baby’s body and face. Your baby should sleep on a firm mattress— an important aspect of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) prevention. All babies need to sleep alone in the crib on a firm, fitted mattress with a fitted sheet only. Your baby should never sleep with anything else in the crib.
This means no bedding such as blankets, quilts, or sheets. And, no crib bumpers, pillows, or stuffed animals. If the hotel or rental agency offers these features with the baby crib, be sure to decline or find another alternative provider for your baby equipment.
When your crib is set up, place two fingers in between the mattress and the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers in the space, ask for another crib or mattress, as it increases the risk of the legs, arms, and head getting stuck in the unsafe space. If it passes that test, press on the mattress with your hand. If the mattress holds firm and spring back in place quickly, it’s firm enough.
When you’re all set, place the baby on his or her back to sleep. Avoid sleep positioners that keep your baby in one position while sleeping to reduce the risk of suffocation. Any other position can increase the risk of SIDS.
A great option for a crib rental:
• Dream on Me 2-in-1 – Meets CPSC and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) safety. Unique hinges allow the crib to fold flat for compact storage or travel. Included is the stationary (non-drop side) rail design, which provides the utmost in product safety. Made of solid pine, this portable crib is one of the most convenient portable cribs on the market.
There’s not a firm age when babies should stop sleeping in baby cribs, but parents should consider switching to a toddler bed once your little one starts climbing or is more than 35-inches tall. According to Andi Metzler, a Certified Child Sleep Consultant based in Ventura, CA it’s appropriate for most children to make the switch sometime between the ages of 2 ½ and 3 ½. In fact, it’s often best to wait until your child is closer to three since many just aren’t ready to make the transition.
Regardless if it’s a pack-n-play or crib, it’s also critical your baby’s sleeping arrangement is close enough so that you can see the baby and easily respond to the need for comforting, and feeding and monitoring. Speaking of monitoring…..
If you are using a baby monitor that plugs into a wall, be careful that the cord from a baby monitor is not close to the crib, as a baby can strangle or choke. Wireless monitors are recommended for those reasons. One monitor recommended by Dr. Craig Canapari, a pediatrician at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, is the VTech Baby Monitor. It’s a simple, affordable monitoring option that doesn’t overly complicate with technology and provides audio and visual monitoring.
WRAPPING IT UP…..
Parents have places to go, people to see, and fun to have. Don’t be tethered to home worrying about how your baby will snooze on the road. The next time you’re booking a room in some faraway place or just going for a weekend road trip, try these strategies to get your baby to sleep anywhere. Safely!
About the Guest Author
Michelle Rowley is a co-founder and chief marketing officer of VacaDUN Baby Gear Rentals of Orange County, CA. She and partner Reggie Bautista founded VacaDUN to provide traveling families with better options for safe, family travel on the road with a wider array of quality, affordable baby equipment. She loves meeting kids and families from all around the world who travel to Southern California and is thrilled to meet people who are nearly as short as she is, albeit temporarily.