2018 Safe Family Travel Report

Parents Want Safety Help When Traveling

As the summer family travel season kicks off, Babierge introduces our first annual Safe Family Travel Report, based on survey data of  US families with children age four and younger. This year’s report coincides with the company’s new safety-focused Baby Gear Rental Policy and is informed by our colleagues at First Candle, a leading national nonprofit committed to eliminating sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths.

Families love to travel! Approximately 98 million US and Canadian families will travel in 2018.* Many have already booked accommodations and carefully considered the beaches, museums, and attractions that will lead to a memorable family getaway this summer. Hotels and vacation rentals are gearing up for what promises to be a busy summer vacation season, and grandparents are greatly anticipating actual face time with their grandchildren as they finally see their smiles beyond a computer or phone screen.

With so many travel details to coordinate, safe sleep and play for their young children at the family travel destination may not always be top-of-mind for many parents. However, this research indicates parents do care deeply about travel safety and they want the travel industry,  and even their own parents who may be hosting them for visits, to offer gear and other resources that provide safer sleep and play options for their children.

 

Cribs are key.

Sixty-eight percent of parents with children under age two believe it’s important for a hotel or vacation rental to have a full-size crib so their baby can sleep more safely, with nearly a quarter (24%) indicating it is extremely important.

What’s not so safe?

Sixty-nine percent of parents indicated they slept with their infant in their beds while traveling, with thirty-nine percent of parents indicating they’ve done this frequently.

This data ties into a concerning trend. From 1999 to 2015, SIDS rates have decreased 35.8 percent. However, the rate of accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed among infants has increased 183.8%, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

 

According to Alison Jacobson, CEO and Executive Director of First Candle, “There’s only one safe environment for a baby to sleep–that’s alone in a crib, bassinet or portable crib. Babies should sleep on a firm, flat surface with a tightly fitted sheet and no blankets, bumpers, pillows or stuffed animals.

 

What else keeps our little ones safe when traveling?

More than two thirds (70%) of parents would like to see electrical outlet covers available at hotels and vacation rentals, and more than half would like highchairs. Other top safety-related items many parents would like available include cabinet locks (43%), safety gates (41%) and bed rails ( 39%).

 

How safe is grandma’s house?

While parents were much more likely to give their in-laws and their own parents’ homes an A (32%) or B (36%) when asked to grade these locations in terms of how safe they were for their visiting infants and toddlers, parents were more likely to award a C grade to vacation rentals (53%) and hotels (49%).

Only two percent of parents gave hotels or vacation rentals an A score. When it came to a failing grade, hotels (6%), vacation rentals (5%) and grandma’s house (2%) all received a few Fs.  

 

 

Can the travel industry help?

Ninety-two percent of parents would rent a “safer baby” hotel room — one equipped with baby gear to help their child sleep and play more safely — if it was available to them.

Parents want other supports available for their families when staying in hotels/vacation rentals too, including air quality monitors for carbon monoxide & radon gas (72%), information about the nearest hospital & emergency room (68%), a drinking water filtration system (46%) and information about the cleaning products used on the premises (32%).

What did we learn?

Wherever they stay, almost all families traveling with young children would like more help when it comes to safety. Ninety-five percent of parents surveyed want access to additional safety-related gear, information, and support from the travel industry, or from their own parents.

Far beyond the availability of cribs, parents would like an assortment of safety-related gear available to them when traveling, including high chairs, outlet covers, cabinet locks, safety gates, bed rails, doorknob covers and infant bathtubs.

Some parents anecdotally told us they would like to see televisions and dressers bolted to walls, and rooms with fewer sharp corners or breakable decor. Clean floor space was also important. Some also suggested changing tables, sippy cups and airport shuttles with car seats.

Finally, as the leading baby gear rental service, one data point surprised us all at Babierge: Only twenty percent of parents were aware they can rent baby equipment when traveling!

 

For more information about this report, please contact trish@babierge.com

Download infographics here.

 

 

*Based on a 2018 survey on Millennial American family travel by the American Automobile Association and a 2017 survey of Canadian travel trends by Skyscanner.ca.

Babierge Talks Safe Baby Travel with First Candle’s Alison Jacobson

Learn About our New Baby Gear Rental Safety Policy

Babierge takes safety seriously. From the beginning, we’ve had important safety standards in place, including mandatory gear safety and cleaning training for new Trusted Partners (TPs) and providing customers with the manufacturer’s instruction manuals for safety-related gear like car seats.  We don’t rent cribs with a side that lowers. When items are returned, we carefully inspect and clean them before they go back into inventory storage. We mail in a registration card or go online to register the products we purchase for our inventory so we can easily be notified in the event of a product recall. We also check products against recall lists and monitor those lists on an ongoing basis.

 

Room sharing without bed sharing

Sadly, we learned that one of our Trusted Partner’s friends lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  While perusing our social media, she saw a post that was not aligned with the recommendations of SIDS organizations.  We then learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends that cribs be bare without blankets, pillows or even a mesh bumper–an item we were renting.   We realized that we could do more to improve our safety policies and set a standard for the baby gear rental industry.

 

Consequently, we quickly dug deep, learning everything we could about baby gear in relation to SIDS safety guidelines. In less than 48 hours, we removed images and content in our social media that was not aligned with AAP recommendations or guidelines from leading SIDS organizations.

Then, we introduced a Comprehensive Safety Program, requiring all TPs to be in full compliance with this policy and subsequently inspected each Babierge site. In addition to mandatory gear safety training, registering baby gear and providing customers with instruction manuals, our new safety policy requires each TP to Not offer certain products for rent, including:

  • Blankets for cribs;
  • Extra mattresses for Pack ‘N Plays;
  • Bumpers of any kind or products to be used in the crib, such as wedges or sleep positioners, as per the AAP’s safe sleep policy;
  • Car seat protectors;
  • Teething guards;
  • Dock-a-Tots or similar sleep products.

 

 

Opt for a wearable blanket like a Halo Sleep Sack

Our new safety policy also requires 100% image compliance. We don’t allow images of cribs, or other gear in which a baby sleeps, to contain soft bedding, blankets, bumpers, pillows or soft toys on the site or on Babierge social media channels.

Finally, we looked at messaging in relation to our gear and made some safety reminder messaging mandatory. For example, copy for rental bed rails must say: “Portable bed rails should not be used with infants.” We also warn customers that “pressure-mounted gates are not approved by the manufacturer for placing at the top of stairs.” As we know, only hardware-mounted gates should be used there. It’s important to acknowledge how quickly Babierge TPs made these changes. Everyone wants to get this right.  

 

To keep the safety ball rolling, I chatted with Alison Jacobson, the CEO/executive director of First Candle, a leading national nonprofit committed to eliminating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths, about our safety program and what else we could do to ultimately help families keep their babies safe when they travel.

 

Alison’s first child, Connor, died of SIDS in 1997, when he was four months old. We understand how deeply infant safety issues resonate with her, and with parents worldwide. In addition to her role at First Candle, she is also known as the “The Safety Mom.” Here’s what Alison has to say about our new safety policy—and more!

 

Q: What do you think about Babierge’s policy and campaign? Is there any way we could further improve it?

A: You’re off to a good start. But I would add a couple of things to Babierge’s safety policy: In addition to not renting blankets, include pillows too. I would also stress that only the fitted sheet that’s made for the Pack ‘N Play should be used. If a sheet becomes loose, it’s a hazard.

 

In addition to the bed rail copy, it would be great to remind parents, whenever possible, that infants should never be placed in a bed. For customers, you want to have everything spelled out. Social media is a great place to promote this message and everyone appreciates when brands and organizations do so.

 

Q: What are the most important things traveling families need to keep in mind in terms of SIDS prevention?

A: Over the years, the SIDS’ rate has gone down, which is great. But the infant mortality rate hasn’t. What’s happening? Accidental suffocation is on the rise. You can reduce the risk of SIDS, but there’s no 100% way to prevent it. But you can 100% prevent accidental suffocation. It’s something parents and grandparents need to hear. It’s an empowering message. There are steps you can take to save your baby’s life.

To reduce the risk of SIDS and prevent suffocation, traveling parents need to make sure their baby is in a safe sleep environment. In a new surrounding or if they haven’t rented a crib or Pack ‘N Play, there’s a tendency to bring the baby into bed. To prevent accidental suffocation, you don’t want that baby in bed with you. Don’t let your baby sleep overnight in a stroller either. It’s not safe. Move him to a crib.

Q: Our TPs recently had a question about Rock and Play sleepers. Does First Candle have an opinion about these type of sleep products? Are they appropriate for overnight sleep?

A: The only safe environment for a baby to sleep is alone, in a crib, bassinet or portable crib on a firm, flat surface with a tight fitted sheet and no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or bumpers.  Opt for a wearable blanket like a Halo Sleep Sack.

 

Q: Babierge works with a lot of hotels and vacation rental companies. What role can these companies play regarding SIDS prevention/safe sleep options when accommodating traveling families?

A: If hotels and vacation rental companies provide Pack ‘N Plays and cribs, I would love them to provide safe sleep language with these products, including:

  • Always place baby on back for every sleep time
  • Use a firm sleep surface covered with a fitted sheet
  • Room sharing without bed sharing
  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of baby’s sleep area
  • Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime
  • Avoid overheating
  • Do not use home breathing and heart monitors to reduce SIDS
  • Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce SIDS

Again, have everything spelled out.

 

Put babies to sleep on their back

Q: What about grandparents? Are there common safety mistakes grandparents make with baby’s sleep environment? How can Babierge TPs work with grandparents to make sure these customers use baby products safely?

A: Talk to grandparents about why you don’t rent crib bumpers, that a safe crib environment is bare. You also want to talk to them about putting babies to sleep on their backs, not on their tummies or their sides, and to not place babies to sleep on a soft surface, like the sofa. One of the biggest arguments people have for why they place babies on their stomach is they’re afraid of them aspirating. But babies are more likely to choke when they’re on their stomach. It’s the opposite of what most people think.

 

Q: In addition to renting the safest baby products and avoiding those that aren’t safe, what else can Babierge do to help keep babies safe, in general, when customers rent baby gear?

A: This is more the Safety Mom talking, but encourage your customers to rent baby gates. If they’re going to visit grandma or grandpa, a rental home or a family with no kids, baby gates are an easy way to make unsafe areas off limits, such as the area near the china cabinet, the kitchen when you’re cooking, the big screen TV, the home office or the home gym. Use a pressure mounted gate at the bottom of the stairs and between rooms to keep babies out of there. Caution customers to never use a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs.

 

Also, if your friends or grandma or grandpa has a dog, encourage your customers to use a gate to keep your baby away from the dog’s food. We’ve unfortunately seen bites from the most docile dogs who become territorial when baby gets near their food.

 

Q: Last question: Have any other baby gear rental companies reached out to First Candle?

A: No! It’s surprising. You’re the first.