13 November 2007

Strategies for "darkening" the portacrib at bedtime in a hotel

Graco Pack N PlayAndrea has her husband to thank for this hack:

We spent a weekend out of town with our 5 month-old.  At 2 or 3 months we could have stuck her in the Pack-n-Play and she would have slept.  Now she's a very excited, very distractible 5 month old who had no interest in bedtime.  So my husband got a great idea -- he pulled the heavy bedspread off the second bed and put it part way over the portable crib.  It reminded me of how people put pet birds to bed, but our princess rolled over, put her thumb in her mouth and bum in the air and fell asleep!  I think we will bring our own blanket with us since I've seen the "investigative reports" about the cleanliness of hotel blankets on the news too, but it really helped so we could hang out as a couple, and still have fun with baby the next day!

[Obviously this only works if your baby is in the full portacrib, not the high bassinet. Also, once baby's asleep, remove the blanket. -- Ed.]

This reminds me of a hack we used which I should have written up years ago! We were in the same boat during a trip -- baby wouldn't sleep in the portacrib because there was Too! Much! Fun! going on in the hotel room (Rael and me trying to read in bed...woo hoo.). We pulled the crib behind the room-darkening curtains so it was next to the window (it was dark outside) and our son went to sleep, if not right away, then much faster than he would have had we left him in plain sight. Once he was asleep we moved the crib back into the room.

Related: Lots of great kid-in-hotel-room hacks!

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We used to pack a couple of those luggage belts/bands which, when clipped together would encircle the portacot and secure any blanket we had to hand.

I like this better than turning all the lights off and waiting for him to go to sleep! We try to get 2 room suites whenever possible so the kids have their own room for sleeping, and we don't have to worry about keeping the TV down or being extra quiet. But in those cases where that's not possible, a blanket over the crib is a great idea.

We put it in the bathroom, or even partially in the closet when we can.

We pack two yards of black felt in the pack and play along with a few binder clips just in case we need to "wrap" pack and play in order to avoid being seen, cover the top to block out light or hang the felt over closet doors if the pack and play will partially fit in there. It is also really nice just in case you are staying at a friends house who has blinds that doesn't block out the light enough for day time naps. I never leave the house for a trip without my felt now!

We actually travel with a dark-colored flat (not fitted)bed sheet and a box of thumb tacks. We tack the sheet up to the ceiling around the port-a-crib with enough room that our guy (now 15 months) can't grab and pull the sheet down. This makes a nice darkened "room" and only requires a little extra packing.

I use the larger size receiving blankets and binder clips to wrap the side of the pack-n-play. Our girls share a room and I use the same trick when I need to put my 7 month old down for a nap in another room for some reason.

I wish I'd thought of these great ideas back when I was stuffing Pack n' Plays into hotel closets and hanging out in the bathroom with my husband during naptime.

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