Keeping baby safe while traveling

Making sure your baby sleeps safely is enough to keep any new parent up at night. The very idea of traveling with baby, which jolts families into unfamiliar surroundings, can add to those fears. As a new father (my son is 14 weeks old), such concerns are at the front of my mind as my wife and I plan our summer vacation. So when I heard about a 2000 study that found 80 percent of hotels and motels in the U.S. have unsafe cribs and playards, I took notice.

I wanted to know if the overall numbers were still that bad. On a personal level, I also wanted to know what I could do to make sure I wasn't putting my child at risk. The good news is that shortly after the study was released, some hotel chains stepped up, initiating safer-crib programs in all of their rooms. Starwood's Westin, Sheraton, and Four Points brands were among these, as were Best Western's properties.

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So some big hotel names got the message, but what about the small, independent hotels and motels across the country, not to mention the larger companies that ignored the study's warnings? That's where Safe Kids USA, which worked with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on the original research, can help. Safe Kids' PDF checklist for parents is a great fallback if you're uneasy about the crib in your room. Among the items to inspect are the strength of slats, the firmness of the mattress, and the tightness of screws and bolts.

But crib safety isn't the only concern when you're out on the road. That's why Baby Road Trip's list of what to pack when you're traveling with an infant is so welcome. There is a portable crib on the list, but there are also diapers, toys, and even a nightlight. This list might not make your travels stress-free, but it could mean you won't have to spend your vacation in search of that one essential item you left in the baby's room at home.

There's a lot to worry about on the first trip away from the nest, but I'll sleep better thanks to the information listed above. So will my son.

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