The last thing you want is to arrive at a hotel only to find that it can’t provide a place to sleep for your baby! This article answers all your burning questions: do hotels have cribs, which hotels are more like to keep them in stock, and how to snag your own.
Staying at a hotel with a baby is…interesting. To say the least. If it’s your first time, the more accurate word might be “terrifying.”
Not only is your baby coping with an environment outside of his natural habitat, but you’re dealing with a lot of new experiences and unknowns.
My husband and I are avid travelers. We stayed at our first hotel when my daughter was four months old, and we haven’t looked back since! What is relatively new to us, however, is using hotel cribs.
It all started when our airline didn’t allow us to check our Pack ‘n Play and stroller for free. The cost to check our Pack ‘n Play was roughly the same as buying a new one, so we decided to grab one at our destination.
Then we thought about it…hotels had cribs, right? Right? Yes, they did. And so a new chapter of our lives began.
Using hotel cribs is kind of a mixed experience. If you’re new to staying at hotels with a baby or toddler, there are a few nuances you might want to know before giving it a try yourself. I’m going to attempt to share what I know, so you can know exactly what to expect.
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Do Hotels Have Cribs?
The short answer: most hotels provide cribs or travel cribs for their guests to use. However, availability ranges significantly.
Most hoteliers understand that parents need a safe and secure place for their little ones to rest, just like any other essential amenity. Call ahead. Don’t leave this to the fates. You don’t want to arrive at your hotel at midnight only to discover that your room isn’t equipped with a crib, and Wal-Mart is closed (because, apparently, they do that now).
What Hotels Have Cribs?
Your best bet is to book with a family-friendly hotel chain. Here are just a few that openly offer cribs:
- Hilton’s Home2Suites
- Embassy Suites
- Fairfield Inn and Suites
- Townplace Suites
- Marriott Residence Inn
- Marriott Courtyard
- Holiday Inns
- Disney Resorts (don’t get too excited though, availability is the kicker)
- Hilton Garden
Most hotels we’ve requested cribs from give us the caveat that they are only equipped with 3-4. From there, it’s a toss-up whether or not they can find them. If you’re vacationing at a popular location for families, availability may be a concern.
I think the age of the hotel comes into play as well.
For example, I stayed at older Embassy Suites that was supposed to offer cribs and didn’t. Whereas I stayed at a new Home2Suites (which is less expensive and a little less family-friendly) that offered a like-new playyard.
I can’t stress enough: Call ahead to make sure!
What Kind of Cribs do Hotels Have?
Most hotels use portable cribs nowadays (play yards). It makes sense. Play yards are inexpensive to replace every few years and extremely easy to store.
Having said that, I’ve seen a couple hotels offer the cribs with the white metal slats. If this is what the hotel offers you, I would make sure that you have appropriate bedding for the mattress and inspect it carefully to make sure that the crib is not damaged or behind in safety guidelines (more on that below).
Can I Rent a Crib?
Actually, yes. But only in some locations.
If you’re close to a popular destination for families, rental places will cater to guests traveling with babies. For example, we rented a stroller (not a crib) in Orlando while vacationing at Disney. But, as you can imagine, this is very, very specific to your location and subject to seasonal peak times.
How to Request a Hotel Crib
When you book online, sometimes the intake form gives you an option to request a crib. This allows the hotel to prepare the crib in advance, ensuring a seamless check-in experience for you and your little bundle of joy.
Don’t stop there.
The day of your visit, call the hotel. Be sure to ask guest services if one is available. Let them know that you’ll be staying with an infant. Not only will this increases your chances of getting your baby gear, but the staff will often try to give you a room away from other guests. Because we all know what happens at midnight when the partiers one floor up wakes up baby.
In my experience, it’s usually the maintenance crew or the hotel front desk clerk that wheels the crib back to the room. The thing is, hotel staff often work long shifts with very little support. They can get busy with other customers’ demands.
Once you check in, remind guest services that you will need a crib. Ask if your room is already equipped with one. If you called ahead of time, kindly remind them that someone said they would hold a crib for you.
You might feel like this is nagging, but in my experience it does take quite a bit of “reminding” to get one. Once again, the hotel staff gets busy.
Do Hotels Charge to Use Cribs?
Most hotels offer cribs to their guests, free-of-charge. In fact, I’ve never been charged for a hotel crib. Having said that, I recommend double-checking beforehand. You never know.
Are Hotel Cribs Safe?
In theory, yes. Hotel cribs must pass inspection before they are offered to guests.
But get this: in 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission randomly checked the cribs in over 90 hotels. Do you know what they found? Over 80% of these cribs had at least one safety concern.
Now, I’m sure hotel chains have developed a lot more safe practices and standards since 2000. Still, as a parent, your child’s safety is always a top priority. It’s important to take a proactive stance on safe sleep.
A few things to look out for with cribs:
- The mattress must be firm and tight-fitting. No gaps that your baby can get stuck in.
- No missing, loose, broken screws, brackets or other hardware.
- No cutouts in the headboard. That’s the perfect place for your baby’s head to get stuck.
- No more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats. Also keep an eye out for missing or cracked slats. Some kiddos like to gnaw on them so…there’s that.
- No corner posts over 1/16th inch high
For play pens:
- Mesh should be less than 1/4 inch in size
- The mesh and top rail cover should not have any tears, holes, or loose threads.
- The mesh should be securely attached to top rail and floor plate.
- Look for exposed staples
Before placing your baby in the crib, carefully inspect it for any damages or signs of wear and tear. Look for any broken parts, splinters, or loose hardware that could pose a safety hazard. If you notice anything amiss, immediately request a replacement.
Also, keep in mind any potential recalls. While the crib may have been inspected initially before it was made available for use, chances are, the hotel staff isn’t avidly checking manufacturer websites for recalls.
To find out if the crib has been recalled, you can check the CPSC website or other reliable sources that provide information on crib recalls.
What to Do if the Hotel Doesn’t Have a Crib Available: Exploring Alternatives
Many boutique hotels, and Airbnb or VRBO locations do not offer cribs. Or maybe the hotel you’re staying at does have a crib, but the quality is than desirable. If that’s the case, we’re looking at a BYOC situation; Bring your own crib.
Play Yards, Portable Cribs or Pack ‘N Plays
If I have the space, I will always bring along my own baby crib. For one, my children recognize their own equipment. It smells the same. It looks the same. For another, I’m 100% sure that the sketchy looking crusties on the sides are from their own noses. Not someone else’s.
When you bring your own portable cribs, you’re minimizing the chance of spreading germs and potential inconvenient situations.
But which one to bring?
I’m a little biased, but I love Graco’s Pack ‘n Play. My daughters have been using Pack ‘n Plays for trips across the country to afternoon naps at Grandma’s house.
We’ve purchased three Pack n Plays in our kids’ lifetimes and love each one dearly. They’re pretty inexpensive and very useful in multiple situations. For example, if you arrive at your hotel room and discover that the floors are a touch…um…untouchable…a Pack ‘n Play is the perfect spot for your baby’s tummy time.
However, there’s quite a few other portable travel crib options out there:
Guava Lotus: If your top priority is durability and comfort, this is the play yard for you. The Guava Lotus is really the Cadillac of travel cribs. It’s Greenguard Gold Certified, which means you don’t have to worry about icky chemicals in the materials. It also folds up into a backpack (very cool)
Baby Joy Travel Crib: This is a really cool option that we probably would’ve used had we known about it sooner. Machine-washable mattress pad, sleek design, and it’s super lightweight. Just check out how small it folds up! I also love that this option has a side-zipper for those babies that like to crawl/toddle out.
If your little one is less than 15 pounds, you can use a travel bassinet.
The Munchkin Brica Fold ‘n Go travel bassinet is a popular choice for parents. It’s foldable, a few pounds lighter than a playyard, and can even be taken as a carry-on during your flight. The only thing to consider: Munchkin does not mention that this crib is safe for nighttime sleep, and it’s really only appropriate for use on the floor. With the dust bunnies. And bugs.
For an elevated travel bassinet, check out the Regalo Baby Basics Infant Bassinet. This is a little bulkier than the Brica, but it’s sturdier and includes a travel bag.
Additional Tips for Using a Hotel Crib
Bring your own universal crib sheets
It’s the safer, more sanitary option. Plus, there’s no guarantee that your hotel will provide sheets. Most of the hotels we stayed at didn’t, even if they provided a playyard.
Pack a White Noise Machine
Getting your baby to sleep is hard enough. Getting your baby to fall back asleep is impossible.
Even the most laid-back hotel is loud when you’re traveling with a baby. Doors shutting, heavy footsteps, and nevermind the partiers in the next room over. We brought our Hatch or our Rohm white noise machine for every trip and never regretted it.
Plus, if you use a white noise machine at home, using one at the hotel will create a familiar sleeping environment.
Use Something to Block Out Light
Back in the good ol’ days (i.e. right now) we’ve tried blocking out stuffing towels under the hallway door and putting sheets over the windows. Anything to block out light for another fifteen minutes.
Another mom introduced me to the SlumberPod and I’ve got to say…it’s pretty ingenious. Basically, it’s a ventilated black-out tent for your baby. The Slumberpod creates a dark, cozy environment that I would love to curl up in for a few hours.
New models include a baby monitor pouch, fan pouches, and updated ventilation flaps. Just put the playyard inside, turn on the fan, and say goodnight. If you don’t have the cash to drop on a SlumberPod, Amazon does also sell some playyard covers. I would just thoroughly investigate the manufacturers and customer reviews before using.
Book a Suite Instead of a Studio Room
Our firstborn absolutely could not sleep in the same room with us. Our presence energized her to the point that she would happily lie awake for hours. We discovered very quickly that the key to success (and our sanity) was to spend $20-50 more and book a room with a separate bedroom suite.
If your child is used to sleeping independently, you might want to consider this as well.
Read the Reviews
People talk. Online reviews from other parents who have stayed at the hotel can provide insights into the quality and condition of the cribs. We try to post constructive and honest reviews of the hotels we stay in to help other parents make their decisions. Other parents do this as well!
Always Wipe Down the Hotel Crib
I’ve gritted my teeth while using a hotel Pack ‘n Play because of all the crusties, stains, and gnaw marks littering the equipment.
Once again, no offense to the hotel staff, but public travel cribs are not thoroughly sanitized. No one will care for your baby’s safety and hygiene like you do.
Bring a Baby Monitor
If you happen to book a suite and you’ll be staying in a separated bedroom, I highly recommend packing a baby monitor. Preferably the kind that doesn’t require WiFi connection.
This is for two reasons: 1., In an unfamiliar environment your baby is much more prone to do unusual things (climb out of his crib, cry, etc.). 2., Most baby monitors are equipped with temperature sensors. This allows you to monitor his room’s temperature and ensure that he’s comfortable.
What Are Your Baby Travel Tips?
Alright, to sum it all up: Most family-friendly hotels these days do offer cribs for your little one. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and reserve one to avoid any crib-hunting stress. When you get to the hotel, give that crib a thorough check for damages and make sure it meets the safety guidelines.
We’ve got precious cargo to protect!
But hey, if the hotel doesn’t have a crib or it’s not up to your standards, no biggie! You can always bring your own travel crib like the trusty Graco Pack ‘n Play or go fancy with the Guava Lotus. There are even cool travel bassinets.
Bring those universal crib sheets, pop in a white noise machine for some soothing sounds, and block out that light for better zzz’s. And don’t forget to read reviews. Oh, and just in case you’re booking a suite with a separate bedroom, pack a baby monitor for that extra peace of mind.
I hope this article answered your questions on hotel cribs! If you need more awesome tips and fun baby-related stuff, check out a few of the articles below.
Keep on adventuring!