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Hotel Childcare Safety
By Amy Ziff
Travelocity's Editor-At-Large

Childcare licensing laws and requirements vary from state to state, country to country. Consequently, there is no regulatory board that oversees the services offered by every hotel around the world. Your best bet is to start by contacting each hotel directly and inquiring about its individual services.

Ask the hotel the same questions you'd ask your own babysitter or local daycare center. Find out the credentials of the employees in charge of watching the children. Are they licensed childcare providers or hotel staff members?

Also note the ratio of kids to adults. When traveling internationally, it's also important to make sure that the caregivers speak your language to alleviate communication problems.

Furthermore, find out where the supervision will take place and what kind of activities are offered at the property. Will the children stay in a cheerful playroom or will they be placed in a less desirable location? Are they likely to sit in front of a television all day or will they get some fresh air and exercise outside?

Remember, you can never ask too many questions when it comes to your child's safety. Case in point: One mother was astounded to find that if she left her infant in the care of the hotel, he would be plunked down in a kiosk by the pool and watched by the towel girl.

Always listen to your maternal or paternal instincts. Check out the play areas, restrooms, toys, and kitchen area--all should be clean and child-proof.

Are the children happy and comfortable or fussy and wearing soiled diapers? First-aid supplies should be readily accessible and the caregivers should be trained in how to use them.

If food is prepared, make sure all the meals are healthy and to your child's liking. Don't forget to mention any allergies your child may have or medications he or she may be taking. Also, be sure to leave a phone number where you can be reached in case of an emergency. (Exactly, what are the procedures the hotel staff takes if an emergency does arise?)

Another good idea is to check in on your child shortly after dropping him or her off to make sure things are running smoothly.

While you can never be too concerned about the safety of your children, rest assured that most reputable hotel chains offer quality childcare services. Just do a little homework to find out what hotels would best suit your needs and the needs of your child.

Remember, once you feel confident that your kids are in good hands, you'll be able to enjoy a little time without them!

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