liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
[personal profile] liv
So a good friend of mine is taking a very short (sorry, USians) maternity leave and we were talking about her bringing her family to visit from the other side of the country during the three months before she goes back to work. Her older kid is a bit under two, and then there's this newborn (well, maybe a young infant by the time we actually sort this visit).

Having no experience of hosting young children for an overnight stay, I appeal to the internet for advice! In particular, both the children still sleep in cots; what do you do if you have visitors who need cots to sleep in? Is there some kind of service where childfree people can hire cots for a short amount of time? Or do most people just have cots in the loft from their own childhood or now older offspring or something?

I will of course ask my friend as well, but is there anything else that it would be good for me to set up to make the visit go smoothly? Given that I have no equipment or toys or anything in my house relevant to under-twos, and I don't want my friends to have to carry masses of stuff across the country. (I appreciate that they'll probably have to carry a certain amount, it goes with the territory of travelling with two babies.)

(More substantial post to follow, I hope.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 09:18 am (UTC)
cremains: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cremains
Being in a new location will be the shiniest toy of all for someone under two. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of getting to know a baby for me was how little toys interest them; they are primarily there to distract babies from their real passion (household items). The more important thing is probably taking a look around and imagining to yourself what could be easily broken by a tiny person with no sense of self-preservation or of the relative value of objects or anything like that. For example, accessible wires will probably be extremely inviting to your small guests.

ETA: Another thing to watch out for are books that might be within a two-year-old's reach. The child will probably respect your boundaries more than their parents', but nevertheless it's good to look over your lower bookshelves to see if there's anything that you especially wish to save from being torn or eaten up.
Edited Date: 2015-05-14 09:21 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 09:28 am (UTC)
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)
From: [personal profile] yvi
In my experience, parents usually take care of the "getting the kid a place to sleep" part, by bringing something with them. My sister has something foldable for travel which doesn't take up that much space in the car - Is that not possible in this situation? I don't think most people would have something at home little kids could sleep in.

Other than that, maybe some child proofing for the two year old? Just things at their level that really shouldn't be reached and thrown on the floor by them.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 04:37 pm (UTC)
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
From: [personal profile] highlyeccentric
Seconding this. Ask your friends if they have a travel cot. If they don't, ask *other* friends - my parents hung onto theirs for ages after we grew up, and loaned it to anyone who needed it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 09:55 am (UTC)
antisoppist: (nah)
From: [personal profile] antisoppist
Parents usually bring their own travel cots, bouncy chairs and some sort of device that will convert a normal dining chair into a high chair, but it is nice if you ask them if there is anything you can provide.

However, I had two travel cots and both were a complete pain to put up and get back down again and the kids hated sleeping in them. A nearly two year-old could sleep on a mattress on the floor but the main purpose of cots is to contain the small child so that it doesn't wake up at five in the morning and wander about attempting to destroy itself or everything you own, or the new baby.

Laundry baskets (the plastic sort) with blankets in make an adequate carry cot substitute. With the baby, you just need places where you can put it down safely and it can look at things going on around it. Your arms may be one of these options for the parent. But safely means out of reach of its elder sibling.

Anything you value needs to be at least four feet off the ground. Much depends on the nature of the small child. I had two who weren't remotely interested in the world around them and then got one who put two tiny chairs on top of each other to climb up and get a glass off the dresser and wandered out of the bathroom one morning carrying daddy's razor (which was on a high shelf) and asking what it was for. Your friend will know what their child is like and have an eye fine-tuned for potential hazards. Accept that they are the expert on their offspring/small people in general and invite them to cast that eye around your home the minute they arrive and be willing to move stuff if necessary.

Also, be prepared to work round their routine. They may not have one - the combination of newborn and toddler can just be freewheeling chaotic - but if they have established a system that works, don't wreck it by messing about with their mealtimes or naptimes, however inconvenient to your plans :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 10:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cool! Hope the visit is fun and not too sleepless.

I'd expect them to have at least one travel cot, but maybe not two. We could lend a travel cot, or other of your friends with kids might be able to as well.

The most usual design of travel cot is like a normal cot, a cuboid open at the top. Ours is more like a very small tent, you put the baby/toddler inside and zip up the door. Bethany slept in it on holidays until she was about 2 1/2 and then moved to a bed, but Zoe at 1 1/2 is already able to stand up in it and tip it over, so it might not be so good for the older child.

We could also lend a booster seat to put on top of a dining chair and strap a toddler into. We can't lend an actual highchair as Zoe is still using it, but others might.

One major thing: will your friends drive to visit you, or get the train/coach? We've had problems if we want to visit friends on the train or plane, because we can't easily bring our kids' car seats, so we can't legally go on outings with our friends in their car, or even have them pick us up from the station/airport.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 10:15 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
I don't know of any services, but e.g. my mother bought a cheap buggy and cot off ebay for our visits to her with baby N. I've already given away our cot to freecycle or I'd offer it.

Something like this folding cot can be cheap and not too space consuming when stored:

We can lend/give you some of our baby toys, and bring a reference 2 year old round to see what they can reach that you might want to move ...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 11:59 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
a reference 2 year old

Every project needs one!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 10:20 am (UTC)
mathcathy: number ball (Default)
From: [personal profile] mathcathy
Whenever friends with little ones have visited me they've brought travel cots. I did consider getting one myself once, when a lot of friends had little ones, but they're not so difficult to transport and it never became necessary or even helpful.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 10:35 am (UTC)
damerell: (food)
From: [personal profile] damerell
"Honey, there are very few childcare problems that can't be solved with duct tape." -- Uncle Duke

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, also, you/they might want to consider a stairgate. It depends on the individual toddler, whether they're able to use stairs safely, and if not, whether they'll obey an instruction to stay away. And where the stairs are in the house (ISTR they're right in your front room?) We have a spare one of those - it attaches with outward pressure to the wall on either side, no permanent fixings.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 12:00 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
The most important thing will be to put away anything breakable or sharp within reaching distance of the toddler. We used to call this "childproofing." You might want to make sure you have some plastic cups and dishes for the toddler to use. Also you will have to think about how to raise up the toddler to the table -- giant books in their chair, or you might be able to borrow a restaurant kid seat if you have a friend who works in a restaurant.

Also the toddler still might be in the age range where they are putting everything they find into their mouths -- so small things are also an issue; beads or Legos or jewelry.

Probably the most difficult room will be the kitchen -- you might think about relocating your knives, for instance, and noticing if you have anything poisonous in the bottom cupboards in there or in the bathrooms. If you have a dog the toddler will almost certainly get into the dog food and water bowel. And the cat litter box if you have one will have to be watched.

Age 1-3 is basically the age of constant supervision! LOL.

You could ask your friend if she is bringing what we in the states call a portable crib -- a playpen/crib contraption that the baby can also sleep in. It was a terrific invention for us.

She'll need a handy surface for changing diapers; a bed will work. You might want to have ready a bunch of old towels and dishcloths that can get dirty without harm.

I imagine she'll want to sleep in the same room as the kids since they'll be in a strange place.

Have fun!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 12:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think we have both a big carrycot and a teeny new born carrycot (like this: which can be borrowed if you like, but be aware that lots of parents (including me) are concerned about reusing mattresses. A had sleep apnoea and needed me close when he was tiny so he almost never went in it, but I can have a look.

We have stair gates you can borrow. I think we still have the chair that turns a dining chair into a high chair, too, and some toys A has mostly outgrown which I can seek out for you.

The thing that I found most helpful was an offer to buy nappies so that I only had to travel with a couple. That's the bulk of luggage with tinies - other than that, I found that the easiest travel time. Baby on front, toddler on back, and luggage in a rolling case, we're good to go. Alternatively, pushchairs make good sleeping place - B slept in his pram until about 6 months.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 02:36 pm (UTC)
watersword: Brendan Dean, played by Joe Flanigan, from Thoughtcrimes, resting his chin in his palm, looking disgruntled. (Stock: bored now)
From: [personal profile] watersword
I can't help on the sleeping arrangements thing, but in my experience as a temporary caretaker for wee ones, I would ditto the "toys are there to distract from the cool and dangerous stuff" and "new places are the ultimate toy". Kitchen implements will be a huge hit, i.e., wooden spoons and pots to bang on. You can wrap empty boxes in paper and allow him/her to rip the paper off and play with the remnants (kids under two don't really grok the "wrapped boxes contain presents" things, ime). If you have costume jewelry with no small breakable parts (colorful plastic bracelets, for example), those can be great fun. Two is a little young for dress-up, but it's worth a shot.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 05:32 pm (UTC)
kass: "let love be your engine," image of Kaylee and of Serenity (let love be your engine)
From: [personal profile] kass
When my young fellow was two, I traveled a few hours to visit my sister. If memory serves, he mostly played with her wooden spoons and measuring cups on the kitchen floor. :-) The biggest challenge was that her house is full of stairs, and he wasn't safe to be left alone around stairs yet, so I was forever chasing after him to prevent disaster. But there's really nothing she could have done about that; it wouldn't have been reasonable to expect her to put up baby gates for us, so it was just an occupational hazard of the trip.

The thing I remember appreciating most was when she was willing to sit and look after the two-year-old so I could take a long hot shower in peace. An act, rather than a toy per se, but it was so helpful omg. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 07:30 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
Things that my siblings have requested when bringing small people to visit:

- buying in nappies / wipes / baby food / toddler snacks, ideally in familiar brands and flavours. This can hugely reduce the volume of stuff that needs to be carried.
- the ability to do small loads of laundry frequently
- Car seats, if travelling by public transport: having them means being able to use the visitor's car for both day trips and logistics.
- plastic crockery for toddlers
- willingness to baby proof on request (eg parent visitor rocks up and looks at visitee's house and says 'could we move that giant floor vase to somewhere else, where toddler won't try and pull himself up on it and bring a towering pile of broken glass down on himself?' and visitee whisks floor vase away without arguing)
- stair/door gate, depending on layout of house. Closable doors may be all that's needed.
- travel cot, depending on age of kiddie - infant small people largely slept in their pram/mosses basket which is how they *got* to the visiting house, and older toddlers ended up sharing a double bed with parent, with the bed pushed against the wall on one side and parent on the other, but there was a spell between those two settings when a travel cot waiting in the house was useful.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-14 08:33 pm (UTC)
ayebydan: (charmander)
From: [personal profile] ayebydan
I would put anything breakable out of either child's reach and as someone said, maybe move books or fancy pillows or anything you don't want chewed, drooled or sicked up on out of the way. Be open to requests of the parents when they arrive. Something that looks safe either to damage or hurt in your eyes may look different to them.

Truly though, the responsibility is not yours. I feel no one has pointed this out but there is only so much a host can be expected to do if they themselves have no children. When I was at aunts, friends or grandparents it was my mother's job to make sure I did not touch anything I should not or get myself into trouble. You offering and trying to do this is amazing but if you miss anything you later regret then it is not your fault.

The sleeping arrangement is very much a case of this. That is in no way your responsibility. Travel cots are common for those needing one and frankly many couples will just take the child in with them if they have to. A pram can make a very safe bed until the parent goes down too.

Offer a clean place for changing the baby, but even that can just be making sure carpets are well cleaned and spare towels to lay the baby on as it is changed. Life seems to have a gadget for everything these days but travelling with a baby is really not the mess it sometimes seems. We used to take my brothers around all the time and most of the time nothing of the above was done for us. The child is the responsibility of the parent at the end of the day. They will make sure they don't get into trouble.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-15 12:36 pm (UTC)
altamira16: A sailboat on the water at dawn or dusk (Default)
From: [personal profile] altamira16
Kids like to play with things and put them in their mouths.

Buy a toy gift for the one that is a little under two. This looks like a good option because it has wheels, is reasonably small and can go home with the child, and it is colorful. That child will not know what she/he is allowed to play with and will be constantly trying to play with everything and will potentially get into trouble for this. Having something toy-like will reduce the amount of mischief and give him/her something that he/she is allowed to play with.

If there are breakables sitting on tables, remove those. If there are choking hazards sitting on tables remove those too. Coffee tables with pointy corners are a hazard that the kids will have to learn their way around. Most people with kids under two do not have these in their house, especially the ones with the glass tops with sharp corners.

Glass coffee tables with pointy corners can be a hazard to children this age. If the kid is closer to two than one, he or she should be able to navigate stairs.

I am assuming that the smaller one is not mobile yet so that one is not a problem, but probably should not be put on couches due to ability to unexpectedly roll onto the floor.

Some places do have cots that you can rent, but I typically see this in tourist areas with a lot of kids (like near Disney World.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-15 04:12 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
My (very) limited experience of small children suggests that a stick and a muddy puddle go a very long way to keeping them happy... the parents may (or may not) be thrilled with the idea (the mud gets *everywhere*).


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