As we burrow out of the snow and head into warmer days, we're getting closer and closer to vacation season. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing but when you have kids in tow, they're often downright exhausting. There are plenty of tips online for traveling and staying in hotels with toddlers, but what about when you've got a baby on board? Disrupting a baby's routine isn't easy, but a little planning can go a long way towards making your hotel stay a pleasant one.
Babies require a lot of gear, so the first thing you'll need to do to prepare for a hotel stay with your infant is make sure you've packed all the necessary supplies. Try to get the basics covered first, and then work from there. Request a portable crib or Pack 'N Play for your room when you make your reservation and bring a clean sheet or two if you're squeamish about hotel bedding or just want it to feel more like home.
If you're bottle feeding, make sure you've got a bottle brush and a small travel bottle filled with dish soap. Bring formula in a resealable plastic bag, or even buy a small can once you arrive and keep it in a designated spot in the room. If you need disposable diapers or premade baby food, wait and buy those at a store near the hotel as well so you don't have to give up the extra space in your bag. For bathing, consider investing in an inflatable infant tub (your baby will need to be able to sit up), as these are easily foldable and will take up very little room in a suitcase. As for baby's clothes, pack twice as many as you think you'll need. Always better to have too much rather than not enough.
Once you've got your eating, sleeping, clothing, and bathing needs covered, consider your environment. If it's possible to request a room away from the pool, elevators, or any sort of group space, definitely do that. If not, bring a small white noise machine or download an app on your phone that will create soothing noise to drown out sounds while your baby is asleep.
Suites are great options for people traveling with infants, as they often have a separate living area where the baby can rest without being disturbed. They also usually have a small fridge and sometimes even a microwave. Of course, a suite is not always a viable option. Don't worry: you can always make a normal room work for you. Pick a spot in the room where the baby will experience the fewest disruptions. Don't be afraid to move the crib partially into a closet or even halfway into the bathroom if you feel like the baby will be easily disturbed by you moving about and watching television. White noise should drown out the sound from the TV, but if you think any activity post-bedtime will keep the baby awake, bring a book light so you can at least read quietly in the dark until it's time for sleep.
As soon as you arrive at the hotel, request extra towels and extra trash bag liners to dispose of dirty diapers. If you think you'll need extra pillows, go ahead and get those too. Find out how to get in touch with housekeeping to schedule your room cleanings and make use of your Do Not Disturb sign. You do not want someone knocking and interrupting your baby's precious sleep.
Next, consider how dirty hotel rooms are. No, I'm not encouraging paranoia, but there are certain surfaces that are just going to be gross no matter what. Wipe down the remote, phone, and any other oft used stuff your baby might end up touching. Consider bringing a play mat or even just a thin fabric shower curtain or table cloth to spread out on the floor so your baby isn't playing on the gross carpet.
Above all else, try to maintain some semblance of your normal routine. Make naps a priority and keep bedtime around the same hour it usually is, even though getting baby down to sleep might be more difficult. Give your little one extra time to get used to their new sleeping environment and try to mirror whatever routines you have at home. Your hotel might not have all the usual comforts of home, but you can still make it a functional space where the tiniest member of your family will settle in with ease.