Or should I use the hotel’s crib instead?
Thank you to Kerri in San Francisco for asking that question. (Got a baby product question? Bring ’em on!)
When you’re traveling with an infant, a hotel crib or play yard can be a safe haven for your baby provided that either meets current safety standards. Trouble is, “You don’t know how old the crib or play yard is,” says Rachel Moon, M.D., a pediatrician and SIDS researcher at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. And if it’s not brand new, it’s probably out-dated and not up to today’s safety standards. To play it safe, bring your own play yard from home when you’re traveling, she advises. Place it next to your bed, within arm’s reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rooming-in with your baby (but not bed sharing) until your baby is at least 6 months old, whether you’re at home or on the road with your baby.
Since the bassinet feature in play yards can only be used for sleeping for babies up to 15 pounds, you’ll need to go to plan B after that. One option: You could put your baby to sleep on the floor of your play yard; it’s closer to the ground and uses the same mattress/floor pad as the bassinet. If you can’t or don’t want to travel with a play yard, another alternative is to go ahead and use the hotel’s crib or play yard, but to be sure do your own recognizance. For hotel cribs, check to make sure the mattress is firm and tight-fitting. You shouldn’t be able to fit two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the crib side. You shouldn’t be able to fit a soda can between the slats. There also shouldn’t be any missing or protruding parts, screws, or bolts, or high corner posts, which pose a strangulation hazard, or cutouts in the head or footboard. (Do the same tests at home and at Grandma’s house, too.) Ask for another crib if the one you’re offered doesn’t pass muster. If all a hotel has to offer is a play yard, check it out as well. (These criteria also apply to your baby’s play yard at home.) It should have mesh panels, which foster air flow, but a weave that’s small (less than one-quarter-inch openings.) Ask for another if the mesh is larger or has any tears, holes, or loose threads, or the top rail cover has tears or holes. The sides should lock securely (press on them to be sure), and the play yard should include a snug, tight-fitting mattress/floor pad. Use only the mattress or pad provided by the manufacturer. To either a hotel crib or play yard, don’t add a second mattress, pillow, comforter, or other soft bedding.