To Grandmother's House We Go

Baby and Child Safety Away from Home

It's hard to escape a holiday season without quality time at someone else's home. Having a newborn may get you off the hook once, but traveling with babies or toddlers is practically inevitable. If you're planning to spend the holidays away at grandparents or with friends, do you know what to bring to ensure your young one's safety?

While it may seem easier to pack light for a short holiday trip, less is not more when it comes to an overnight stay with a baby or toddler '- less just means more stress. But you don't need to bring the kitchen sink, either '- the most important concerns are safe sleeping, eating and playing. Don't pack up without consulting this essential checklist.

Safe Sleep

Do you know where your baby will sleep? A play yard or portable bassinet is your most transportable option. Don't assume your host has these or a crib handy or, if the family hasn't had young children recently, that their old crib meets today's stricter safety standards . An adult bed is never an option, and don't forget the sheets! If an adult sheet becomes loose, it's an immediate safety hazard. And it's pretty unlikely your relatives keep a supply of crib sheets in the linen closet.

If your toddler's used to bed rails, putting him in a rail-less adult bed is a disaster waiting to happen. Many bed rails are fairly easy to transport, and are worth rearranging the trunk for. Or, consider an air mattress '- but be sure your tot won't be tempted to sneak out to explore the rest of the house.

Helpful Hint: Remind new babysitters to place the baby on her back in the crib or bassinet, and to never snuggle her with pillows or blankets during sleep. Keep an eye out for older children, who may want to "help" with the caretaking. Teach them not to put toys or stuffed animals in the crib.

Plan for Mealtime

Holidays are usually centered on a big family dinner... or three. If you want to enjoy your dinner while including your children in the memory-making, the high chair or booster seat is a no-brainer. While this is pretty obvious for a weekend getaway, it's wise to bring this essential item along even if it's just an afternoon away. The last thing you want is an upset child who feels like he's missing out on the eating action.

And don't forget this spoonful of safety: Adult spoons aren't right for your tot, and plastic spoons can be a choking hazard. So no matter where you're headed, if baby's started solids, bring along his special child-safe spoon.

Helpful Hint: Make sure your collapsible high chair is fully open and properly locked into place. Buy only those that have a waist belt and between-the-legs strap, and keep your child strapped in at all times. If others '- especially older children '- want to help with feeding, supervise at all times to avoid choking hazards.

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