Babyproofing While Traveling: A Whole New World
Just like everything in your world as a new parent, traveling with a baby is different than when you were flying solo or road tripping as a couple. You can’t just throw a few things in a backpack and jet off anymore now that you have a little one in tow. While it may no longer be simple and swift, it doesn’t have to be complicated either. After a couple of trial runs, you’ll get the hang of traveling with your tiny companion, know what essentials you really need for baby’s safety, and can focus on spending time with your family.
Are We There Yet?
Keeping kids safe at your vacation destination is of utmost importance, whether it’s a highrise hotel room, grandmother’s house in the woods, or a condo rental on the beach (and everywhere in between). Knowing what to take will keep you in your comfort zone and baby out of the danger zone. Let’s break this down into two types of travel prep:
- for a quick getaway, when you must travel light
- for that long-awaited dream vacation with lots of time to plan ahead
Know Your Surroundings
If you haven’t examined the photos of your new home-away-from-home on the location’s website or contacted staff ahead of time to find out how kid-friendly the place is, be sure to survey the area before you unbuckle baby from the car seat.
- Are there stairs to the entrance?
- Is there a pool or hot tub? Not for you to make a splash upon arrival, but so you know how easily a baby-on-the-go could access them?
- Is there open space or a busy street? Meaning, could a curious kid go wandering?
- Do you have access to a balcony or deck? Is it up to safety standards that prevent little ones from slipping through railing or getting stuck? AND, is there furniture near the railing that could tempt a tiny climber?
If you’re staying in a hotel room, you have less to investigate. If it’s a home, take a tour first with your babe in arms or safely supervised. What to look for:
- Kitchen access? Appliances on the countertop.
- How many?
- Bunk beds? Tall furniture? Window blinds with cords?
- Any tippy bookcases or TV? Large or breakable decor? Freestanding lamps?
- Electrical outlets and power cords? Trash cans?
Once you’ve taken a sweep through your destination on foot, it’s time to take another look from your little explorer’s point-of-view, and then set about babyproofing so you can move on to R&R.
Don’t underestimate a determined army-crawler. To kid-proof your new surroundings, go low, low, low. Meaning, get on their level on all fours, crawling and scanning the room. See and feel what is within their reach; find outlets you hadn’t noticed behind a chair; remove small objects that could become choking hazards or are just plain icky for them to shove into their mouth.
Keep in mind, your little newbie that’s never left that cute playmat may hit the roll-over milestone while you’re on vacay. Unstable furnishings or breakable objects pose a threat to your little rolly-polly. If you’ve got a mobile baby, move pointy tables out of the way or consider covering the corners. It’s no fun for you to bonk your shin, but for them, it’s their chin. You definitely don’t want big boo-boos sending you on a field trip to the ER for stitches (sadly, we speak from experience). Rearrange furniture to block cords. Pro-parent tip: Take a pic of the room with your phone first, so you can put it all back to the way it was before you leave.
Outside your room or home, check for small objects, sharp nails, missing fence boards, overly weathered, wobbly furniture or garden decor, buckets, or any area of stagnant water, BBQs, firepits, patio umbrellas, and garbage cans. Basically, clear away anything that could topple over or is toxic for baby’s touch and consumption.
Up, Up and Away
Anything that is a potential safety hazard for baby needs to be removed or put up and out-of-sight.
Hide garbage cans, especially ones with plastic bags. Unplug appliances when not in use and remove them from countertops so they can’t accidentally get pulled down on baby’s noggin (or your bare toes). Rearrange the furniture to block outlets and cords.
Check that the TV is stable or move it to a safer spot. Stash breakable objects in a closet your tot can’t get to. Block access to a room deemed unsafe or a staircase by stacking your suitcases.
Parents become creative geniuses when it comes to protecting their tiny travelers, and no doubt you’ll find ways to kid-proof your destination according to the mobility level of your little one.
Baby Travel Safety Items to Purchase and Pack
If you have more time to plan and prep, or are going for a longer stay, here’s a list of items that may not all fit in the diaper bag but are light and portable enough to pack.
- Outlet protectors - easy peasy to plug in, and hard for baby to pull out
- Cabinet slide locks - keep stuff where it belongs and out of your little swiper’s hands or mouth
- Door grip covers - keep a room off-limits altogether
- Stove knob covers - keep baby safe near the hotspot
- Power strip covers - keep you connected safely
- Toilet locks - so the only stuff being flushed is what’s supposed to
- Soft corner protectors - to prevent bumps and bruises
- Safety gate - keeps baby away from stairs or other danger-zones
- Portable bed rail - keeps tots tucked in, not tumbling out
- Spare baby monitor - keeps you connected when you’re not in the room
Traveling with your new MVP is not as simple to do on the fly, but can be done easily enough when you have a checklist ready. Plan for safety first, so you can switch to vacation mode sooner than later.