When you have little ones at home, baby proofing is a fact of life. Cabinets and drawers are secured, electrical outlets covered and doors and windows locked. You can never be too safe when you live with toddlers who are eager to explore and learn more about their world. But when you go on vacation, the rules change — especially when you’re staying in a hotel. After a long day of travel, you might be eager to collapse into bed and get some rest, but if you’ve brought your small people along, you’ll quickly realize that the room is one giant safety landmine. Drawers that can close on little fingers, toiletries are just begging to be repurposed as finger paint, cords and electrical outlets are disasters waiting to happen — and that’s before you even get to the balcony. So what’s a concerned parent to do? With a few quick fixes, you can childproof your hotel room to be almost as safe as your home.
Perform a Safety Sweep
The first step to childproofing your room is to check for hazards. Among the greatest dangers to children in hotel rooms are items left behind by previous guests. Housekeeping generally removes anything they find, but it’s not uncommon for things to be missed, especially small items on the floor that the vacuum might not catch but will be a magnet for a toddler who has the tendency to put anything into his or her mouth. Look around the floor for things that may have been dropped, such as medication, jewelry, coins or crumbs that could pose a risk to your child.
You should also check the security of any windows or doors leading outside. Curious children have fallen from hotel balconies in the past, so double-check that you can lock the door; if you can’t, request another room to avoid an unfortunate accident. In fact, if you’re traveling with children, it’s usually best to request a lower floor so as to avoid any balcony issues.
Secure Risky Items
Another common cause of accidents in hotel rooms is electrical outlets and cords. Outlets practically beg for children to insert objects — including their fingers — into the slots, so it’s important to cover them. Pack some plastic outlet covers, or use painter’s tape or duct tape to temporarily cover the outlet. Just remember to remove the covers before you check out.
Cords are another risk, as a baby or small child could become entangled in the cord or pull a heavy item down from a table or desk, potentially causing an injury. Use twist ties or tape to secure the cords and keep little hands off of them.
Things That Go Bump in the Night — or Day
Other common injuries among kids staying in hotels are bumps, bruises and cuts due to sharp corners on furniture. Given the cramped nature of most hotel rooms and the fact that many toddlers move quickly without giving much thought to the obstacles in their way, the sharp corners on tables, desks and dressers should be covered to prevent injury. Secure a folded washcloth over the corner with some blue painter’s tape (to avoid damaging the finish) to cushion at least some of the blow if your child makes contact with the corner.
The risk of an injury goes up at night. A small child in a hotel room might be scared, and even a slightly older child who gets up to use the bathroom might trip or bump into something in the unfamiliar room. Bring a night light from home, or leave the bathroom light on with the door slightly open to help your kids feel secure and avoid accidents.
Protecting your little one from potential injuries isn’t the only thing you have to worry about in a hotel room. You’ll want to remove anything that could make a make a mess. A happy toddler can completely redecorate the room with a single pen left on a bedside table in a matter of minutes — and if he or she gets into the bathroom and gets a hold of shampoo, conditioner and lotion, you could have a sticky, soapy mess on your hands. A good rule of thumb? Anything that you would keep out of reach at home, keep out of reach at the hotel.
In even cheap family-friendly hotels, you can request a baby-proofed room, but even if the room is secured, do your own checks to confirm that it’s safe. It only takes a few minutes, and baby proofing your hotel room gives you peace of mind and keeps you out of the emergency room.
About the Author: Patty Laswell is a parenting blogger who loves offering tips and advice to other parents traveling with kids. As the mother of three, she has a lot of experience with the trouble kids can get into in hotels.