If you are like most people when it comes to traveling, sometimes it’s hard for you to get comfortable and settle in at a hotel when traveling. Babies and toddlers often feel the same way. When they get out of their routine or out of their normal environment, they can struggle to function in their normal way. In order to set you and your children up for success when traveling, it can be good to use a travel crib. Helping your child get a good night of sleep is extremely important, especially during travel. Whether you are in the comfort of your own home or out exploring the world around you, there are several general rules of crib safety you should always follow.
Organizations such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have developed a list of safe practices for when it comes to your child’s sleep — and specifically your child’s sleep in a crib. These guidelines therefore should be practiced with travel cribs as well. Sleep safely for children will change depending on age and varying stages of development.
- Do not place an infant on a soft mattress, pillow, sofa, or other soft surface to sleep. This is probably the main reason why you packed a travel crib. Babies need to sleep on a more firm surface in order to help avoid risks of problems like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Infants should sleep on their backs on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib.
- Pillows, quilts, comforters, blankets, stuffed animals, or any other sleep accessory should be removed from an infant's crib.
- Instead of blankets, use a sleeper or swaddle or other sleep clothing as an alternative. A good rule of thumb is that however many layers you are wearing to sleep is a good number for the baby. For example, if you are wearing a t-shirt and sleep under a quilt, the baby could wear a short sleeved outfit under a swaddle.
- Instead of draping a blanket over your baby for warmth like you might do for yourself, consider swaddling your baby in that blanket instead. This will provide the warmth your baby needs without risking loose items in the crib to get in the way of their breathing.
- Always keep your baby’s head uncovered while they sleep. If you are traveling somewhere cold, simply adjust the temperature in the room before adding too many layers to your baby while they sleep.
Keep in mind that as your baby grows into a toddler, the general guidelines about sleep safety will change as well. The varying stages of development also have their own varying rules for safety. For example, a bassinet is more appropriate for use with an infant, but would be too small for a toddler and therefore unsafe. Another example is the height of the mattress. For an infant, the mattress can sit higher in the crib, but the mattress must be lower to the ground for a toddler who can stand. Look for features like a bassinet add-on or mattress height adjustability when looking at travel cribs in order to find the perfect sleep space for your family.
Not only are travel cribs an easy item to pack for trips, but they’re a great way to provide a safe place for your baby or toddler to play as well. Hotel rooms are not going to be baby-proofed so to prevent your child from having access to every drawer and light socket, using a travel crib as a playpen in the room can offer an extra feeling of safety. Here are some extra tips for parents who plan to stay at a hotel with their baby or toddler and plan to use a travel crib.
- Be sure to follow the instructions when assembling your travel crib — especially the first time you use it. Each brand of cribs will likely have its own steps that may not necessarily be universal or may not be common knowledge when assembling the crib for the first time.
- Use a crib with some type of mesh siding if you are traveling to a warmer destination to allow for more airflow through the crib. This feature will prevent your baby from overheating and will allow for visibility.
- Pay attention to the size of your travel crib. Most travel cribs will have certain weight restrictions that may determine how you are able to use your crib. For example, some families with multiple children may want to allow more than one child in the crib to sleep or play.
- Most travel cribs will aim to be lightweight and portable for accessible travel. For some, the weight of the crib itself may be more important to you than other features. They will also come with a travel bag that will expertly carry the crib so that you don’t have to worry about finding a bag that may or may not fit properly.
- Don’t be afraid to wash parts of your travel crib. Hotels aren’t always the cleanest places, so washing your travel crib after a trip can give you some peace of mind that you aren’t carrying germs back into your home. Most travel cribs will have machine washable parts that should make this easy. Just be sure to read the care instructions before washing.
- When it comes to the mattress of a travel crib, look for how high it is off the ground. Most travel cribs sit directly on the ground, while some may have adjustable mattress heights. The benefit of a mattress sitting directly on top of the ground is that you have less chance of your child being able to climb out of the crib. The negative side of the travel crib mattress being so close to the ground is that it may make it harder to get a child in or out of the crib smoothly. This can especially be a problem when attempting not to stir a sleeping baby.
- If possible, find a travel crib with a side zipper feature. This can help prevent some of the issues listed above. This feature allows for easier access to your child on their level, and it can help avoid some back pain for the adults as well.
- Look for a travel crib with easy setup and takedown. Some feature compact folding or fold flat while others may pop into place. Make note of what the crib is like when taken down so you can best prepare for how to transport it and store it. When the crib is taken down, be sure to store it in a place where it is not going to be at risk of falling on top of anyone.
- Some travel cribs may have wheels for easy mobility and maneuverability, but always make sure they are locked whenever a child is in or around the crib.
If you are still looking for a travel crib, we are proud to offer our baby and toddler playpens, mattress, and mattress covers. We have designed our pop-up baby tents to be lightweight, portable, and compact enough for any family adventure. We use high-quality materials, such as fiberglass framing and weave-mesh netting, to assure durability while still remaining lightweight. Our pop-up baby and toddler playpens only weigh 7.2 pounds and our patented “pop-up and down” release makes them easy to setup and takedown. When it comes to mattresses, our self-inflating mattress perfectly fits inside to add an additional one-inch thick layer of comfort for your little ones to enjoy as they sleep or play. Plus, the playpens are safety certified. We strive to do our part when it comes to safe practices for play and sleep for kids.