My baby sleeps in the hotel closet when I travel

My baby sleeps in the hotel closet when I travel ...

Before reserving a hotel room for my now 5-year-old and 2-year-old, I have always called the front desk to ask a few questions about the room Im about to book. Whats the square footage of the closet? Do you have the measurements of the bathroom? (They can only find the answer about half the time, and when they promise to reply to me, I know it will be a dead end.)

I prefer to ask these questions in a nonchalant tone, as if I am the kind of bougie traveler who simply needs a Comfort Inn closet space or a large restroom. Or even in the shower stall. Because the person on the other end of the line changed its tone to thinly concealed horror.

I understood what they were thinking: Who would put a baby in a closet? That seems to be dangerous or at least fanciful. But they dont know my toddler, a kid who believes they should attend a rave if they see a single person in their line of sight during bedtime.

After 8 p.m., I cant exactly book my kids a second hotel room. (And adjoining rooms are rarer than you expect.)

That is all there is to it. I make sure the space is well-ventilated, I close the door, and sometimes I even bring my own nightlights. I am not a monster!

My oldest child was put to sleep in a large shower stall the first time after spending hours in vain in the hotel room. Both were required; the hotel room provided no of either. He was able to cry out in under five minutes, and I was certain that this was going to continue to haunt him for the rest of his life. He would never shower again. He also slept peacefully throughout the night.

I didnt dare to divulge it to anyone. Yet despite the guilt, I did it again and again.

My son had slept in many closets and bathrooms around the world since I continued to travel for editorial work and a book tour. That was when I finally asked my pediatrician if I was the worst mother on the planet. She laughed right in my face, a real snort of a guffaw, and admitted to me she has been putting her own kids in hotel closets since the early 1990s. All of them take regular showers.

I trust my pediatrician fully, but parenting has changed a lot since I was permitted to ride in the back of a station wagon and eat cigarettes in a candy box. Dr. Florence Segura advised me to keep the bathroom door open when not using it completely. She recommends checking for safety hazards like hangers, hairdryers, and razor wires that children can get caught in.

This sounded reasonable, and it provided me the confidence I need as I prepare for another pregnancy and enter the unknown world of a three-child family. The world and especially the world of travel, as many of my friends have taught me repeatedly, is not designed for families of five.

I know a mom who goes further than calling the front desk to request a floor plan. It has helped me determine the layout of a room so I could store the baby, and it has prevented me from getting an additional bed if MacGyver needed it. The bathroom is larger, thus more space for storing the baby.

Regan Stephens, a long-time travel journalist, is one of my favorite travel experts I've ever talked to, having three young children under the age of 10. She explained that she hid her kids in a closet or bathroom every time she traveled with one of the three youngsters under the age of 2.

Stephens remembers a no-frills boutique hotel in Brooklyn that had a tiny bathroom, so we inserted the Bjorn travel crib there when it was time to sleep. It made going to bed in the middle of the night feel like a high-wire act, but it was worth it, according to Stephens.

I wish more hotels would provide information that makes their rooms family-friendly. Sure, a nice kids club is wonderful, but when you have babies, you want a fridge that isn't charging me a grand when I try to empty it of all the booze to put away my breast milk. I'd like a microwave so I don't have to pay for a bunch of restaurant fare my children won't eat anyway, and I want to know if my child can sleep so that everyone can get

When I ask Stephens why hotels don't market themselves a little better to parents, I guess it's because it's unseemly to say, Choose our hotel, we've got the largest closets you can put your baby in, and you'll all get more sleep.

Unseemly is one way to think of it; nurturing for parents is another.

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