As we approach the holiday season, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma for Thanksgiving to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation.

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest standards.

If your baby must sleep in a soft-sided play yard, it is critical that a supplemental mattress not be used, as it can pose a suffocation hazard. At Keeping Babies Safe, we strongly recommend that you only use the thin pad provided with the play yard. We also suggest that parents remove all soft bedding, such as pillows, comforters, blankets, billowy bumpers, toys, etc. from the crib, and always place the baby to sleep on his/her back.

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While preparing for holiday travel, many first-time parents are unaware that there are federal crib standards for hotels, motels and other places of lodging where families may stay. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has tightened its rules on the safe use of cribs – greatly affecting places of public accommodation. The new crib safety rules require stronger wood to prevent slat breakage, as well as anti-loosening devices to keep hardware secure and prevent detaching. There are also strengthened mattress supports now required, as well as more rigorous safety testing for cribs.

As of December 28, 2012, hotels and motels that provide cribs for the use of their customers or guests must comply with the new federal standards. No longer can they offer traditional drop-side cribs. In addition, immobilizers and repair kits for cribs are not allowed. These businesses now play a key role in the collective effort to prevent crib-related deaths and ensure that children sleep safely when they are away from home.

Please call ahead if staying in a hotel/motel to see what model of crib they are using. Make sure it hasn’t been recalled by checking at www.recalls.gov. Also, please do not use a portable crib, such as a soft-sided play yard, for full-time crib use. A proper crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep.

Parents who bring their babies to places of lodging should closely inspect the cribs and ensure they meet the standards. Also, it is also important that the hotel/motel provides a fitted crib sheet. If one is not offered, do not use a twin sheet. We always suggest that parents bring their own crib sheet to ensure there is no issue.

Keeping Babies Safe, a non-profit organization that advocates for safe sleep practices, is an ongoing resource to parents. We encourage you to visit our website at KeepingBabiesSafe.org, where we have the latest information, such as our “Safe Sleep Environments for Babies” video.

To learn more about crib safety laws, call the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772 or visit www.cpsc.gov.