Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby Proofing Update

This year we visited with our more mobile child, and after reading two reviews where young children locked themselves in the bathroom, I wrote in a pre-trip post that I would try to pay more attention to the layout with respect to hazards. Note that I'm not actively endorsing brands or products here; any links are intended as examples of what I mean.

Overall, I didn't find our room to be problematic, although I was glad to have been alerted to the potential for bathroom lockouts.

Electrical outlets: Probably lower risk than at home. There are few outlets generally, and most of them are in use or obscured by furniture. Some of the outlets are at the same height as a table. (These comments do not apply to the Suites, just to Club/Club Family/Deluxe rooms.) Due to the limited number of outlets, if you plan to bring lots of things that require frequent recharging (i.e. more than two things), I would bring a power strip. The outlets work with North American devices.

Drapes: No cords. The drapes are likely to be hung two on a rail, with one that is more transparent for privacy only, and one that is a light blocker. They move back and forth with plastic "sticks" that are at parent height only.

In-Room Door Locks: Most in-room doors have "push button" locks. This includes doors leading to the bathroom, lavatory (which may be separate from the bathroom in some cases), closet/luggage "room", and doors separating parent and child room in Deluxe and Club Family rooms. I tested the locks and they really do work - i.e. a parent cannot unlock the door if you are on the outside and a child is on the inside.
Potential solutions:
1) Door knob covers
2) Door stops
3) Finger pinch guard (foam "u-shaped" things)
4) Throwing bath towel over the doors in question

I have a plastic door knob cover at home that obscures the push button lock but frankly I found it hard to undo to actually get over a door knob, so did not bring those. I did bring door stops and finger pinch guard foam things that are u-shaped, since I wasn't sure which would work best. I used the door stops on doors that we always wanted open, and the finger pinch foam things on the bathroom door. Both worked well, although the finger pinch product would be least accessible to a curious little one, and still allows you to close the door almost all the way. I wasn't familiar with the finger pinch guard product prior to this trip, but will keep both it and the door stops on hand for future hotel stays. I think the bath towel solution would have also worked fine - you just have to remember to hang some over the top of all doors (such as lavatory, bathroom, luggage/closet room) - potentially 3 in a Club room or Club Family room, and more in a Deluxe - and to proactively replace them if they are removed by housekeeping. (You might also need to request more towels in order to successfully carry out this latter approach!)

Porch Door Lock(s): This year our room had two porch doors, one through the parents' room and one through the child's room. I had read about issues with children who figured out how to open the door on their own (it wouldn't be too hard) and who ventured out onto the porch. These door handles are lever style, and while I did look into safety items for lever style handles, few had good reviews (one even involved dismantling the door hardware?!), so I decided to skip it. When we got there, I explained firmly to our child that she was not to open the door by herself. We also positioned our balcony table against the porch door that was more accessible to our child to provide a limited physical deterrent in the event that she tried to open the door. Fortunately, we had no issues here, but it's something to be aware of.

Closets: We had a lot of closet space, but were careful to keep the closets closed when not in use, mainly to prevent curious hands from getting pinched. The doors were fairly large and were not super easy for me to open when both were shut, so I was not worried about a little one opening them.

Corners: There will be at least one in-room table with high corners, and two bedside tables with lower corners. In addition, the rectangular wooden bed frames also have corners when they are not obscured by bedding.

Shower: The shower floor did not seem as wildly slippery as in 2008, when we had a room that was recently redone. We all still used shower slippers as a precaution.

Bathroom sinks: These sinks are fairly high if you have a toddler who can wash his hands independently at home. I requested a stool ahead of time but did not get one. The counter supporting the sinks is about 32" off the ground. The sinks themselves start about four inches into the counter, so it's a good ways to lean in for a little one. We wound up using the stool that went with the desk for teeth brushing, but that required 100% parental support and supervision, as it was really quite high and unsafe if alone (I just couldn't hold my kid up the whole time for teeth brushing!).

Toilet: May be located in same room with sinks/shower or may be in a separate closet size lavatory. I brought a small inexpensive plastic stool along (and left it behind) that was great for the potty but only barely high enough for hand washing and did not provide enough height for teeth brushing. Note that potty seats (the type that fit over the adult seat) are not provided by Club Med, but you can find folding travel potty seats pretty easily if you think you need this type of thing.

Appliances: TV(s) are wall-mounted, so unlikely to be an issue. Each room should have a mini bar type fridge that will be toddler height, and also a coffee maker on the writing desk. The parent's room should also have a clock radio that includes an iPod dock.


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