Updated: Jun 19
Staying in a hotel with Baby can be so much fun. You may have access to a pool, room service, cleaning services, restaurants, and more. It can help make your trip truly feel more like a vacation.
However, the hotel also has some downsides.
There is not always a lot of space. If Baby needs a quiet and dark place to sleep or nap, you too will be spending your vacation in that quiet and dark place.
You might not always have a lot of counter space to clean and dry bottles or, depending on the room and hotel, a refrigerator or microwave at your disposal. This would be something important when storing or heating up milk and food for the baby. (You can find more of the pros and cons of staying in a hotel or vacation rental on my blog here.)
Because of that, I have come up with a few tips to help your hotel stay run a little more smoothly:
Make sure they offer a mini crib or pack n play and reserve it immediately.
These items typically book on a first come first serve basis so reserving them once you book is a good idea. This will save you the trouble of having to bring your own. I also always call the hotel a week before the trip to confirm that a pack n play or crib will be provided.
Bring your own pack and play sheets
Most of the time, hotels will either give you a folded regular size sheet or no sheet at all.
The folded sheet is hazardous to young babies since it slips and loosens as the baby moves in the crib. When there is no sheet at all, due to hygiene, the mattress or pack n play can smell of chemicals or may be wrapped in plastic wrap.
Bringing your own sheets will help in each of these scenarios by providing Baby with a safe, clean, and comfy surface to sleep.
Bring more than just a portable sound machine
We always bring both the portable sound machine and our full size white noise machine on all vacations. Hotels can be noisy, both outside the window and in the hallway or in rooms next door. Having a full size white noise machine will drown out all of the unexpected noises and keep baby sleeping.
For more on keeping baby's sleep schedule on vacation, see my blog post here.
Create Separation The hardest part of staying in a hotel room with baby is the room sharing aspect (at least for older babies once you've moved them to their own crib). Baby can see you so they are more likely to want to stay up and hang out with you. You can see them so you're more likely to get up and hold them with any little whimper.
For this reason, my biggest advice when staying in a hotel is to create some kind of separation.
You have a few options on how to do this:
Put the crib in a bathroom or closet if there is room
Create a physical barrier by covering the crib/pack and play - We have done this by covering the crib with blankets or towels however you need to still make sure there is plenty of ventilation and that they do not fall into the crib itself. You can also purchase a low cost pack and play cover like the snoozeshade.
Invest in a Slumberpod (discount code applied) - Having this has been such a game changer for our vacations. Before, we were putting the baby down for a nap or to sleep and kept getting stuck in the room. We couldn't leave, move, watch tv, listen to anything, talk, go on the balcony… we couldn't do anything without waking her up. Additionally her naps were not great because we could never get the room dark enough during the day. When Baby doesn’t sleep, everything else on the trip is so much more difficult. We also appreciated the longevity of the slumberpod as opposed to just a cover. It can be used with a toddler mattress while a cover lasts right up until baby is able to stand up in the crib... so not long.
Set up baby's sleep area first thing after you arrive
Whenever you're traveling, both Baby and yourself are likely to be very tired by the time you get to your hotel. By setting up the pack and play or crib first, you'll have a safe place to put Baby that they can sleep or play in while you unpack or set up anything else in the room.
If the pack and play or or crib has not been delivered to the room when you get there, be sure to call down as soon as possible for it to be brought up as this usually takes a minute to be done.
Ask for extra sheets
You can never be too sure about the cleanliness of the floors in hotels. If this is something that may concern you, you can always ask for extra sheets. Lay them out on the floor for a clean surface for baby to play.
See if the hotel has high chairs
If your hotel includes continental breakfast or a restaurant where you will be eating multiple meals, it is a good idea to call your hotel and confirm that they have high chairs available. This will keep you from having to either bring a portable version, renting one, or sitting baby on your lap for every meal.
Confirm the type of bathtub or shower your room will have
Many hotels are getting rid of their bathtubs in exchange for the nicer looking and easier to clean standing shower. If they don’t include a bathtub you can either shower while holding Baby or we have loved using this inflatable bathtub (below).
Lastly, choose hotels that have suite options if you can
We have personally had a lot of luck with Homewood Suites. The rooms are nice and clean. You may be able to get a room with a separate space for the bed as well as a lounge area. The best feature however is that the rooms include a kitchen/kitchenette which is perfect when traveling with babies! You don’t realize how useful a refrigerator, microwave, full size sink and counter are until you don’t have them.