Travelling with Wee Ones? Renting Gear is the Way to Go

By Lesley Cherry   Wee Travel Inc

You’re taking your little one on her first trip to grandma’s house. It’s just the girls travelling this time – aka you and the baby. That means there are 2 hands and 10 fingers to carry a baby, a car seat, a stroller, 2 suitcases, a pack n’ play, carry-on luggage, and a booster seat. And what are you going to do without that swing and bouncy chair for a week?

The thought of travelling is stressful enough. The thought of spending a week without the two hours of daily bliss you get when baby falls asleep in the swing is all the birth control you need for the next little while.

Before you book an appointment with your therapist/energy healer/yogi to help you on this particular journey, you may want to think about renting gear from a baby equipment rental agency in your area.

Renting provides some definite advantages. First and foremost, it means you can still travel with just a suitcase, a carry-on, and a stroller. Secondly, it beats borrowing from friends, as you can never be sure if old or borrowed equipment has been recalled or meets today’s safety standards. Finally, rental prices are very reasonable (even cheap) and the companies deliver right to your door.

Car seats are one of the biggest rental items. However, for parents that want to bring a car seat on the airplane, there is the gogo Kidz™ Travelmate. The Travelmate is a car seat attachment that allows the seat (and child) to be wheeled through the airport just as you’d wheel a suitcase. It can easily manoeuvre down the aisle of an airplane and can remain attached to the car seat without interfering with the seat or the safety belt. If you've tried to strap your wee one into an airplane seat, you've probably realized that the seat belt alone will not keep your child safe. The CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System) seatbelt is an innovative FAA approved restraint for kids 22-44 lbs that attaches directly to the back of the airplane seat and augments the regular seat belt by restraining a child's torso to the seat, and not just their waist. It only weighs 1 lb and takes 1 minute to install. If you're thinking about lugging your car seat through the airport just to keep your child safe on the plane, CARES is for you!

“Infants and toddlers deserve the same protection that is provided to other airline passengers,” says Lesley Cherry, Co-Founder of Wee Travel Baby Equipment Rentals. “We must fasten our seatbelts during takeoff, landing and turbulence. However, airlines do not offer a way for infants and toddlers to be restrained. Many parents want to bring a car seat on the plane, but the sheer challenge of getting a car seat, a child and luggage through the airport deters many parents from doing so”.

Wee Travel currently has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria and is expanding to other Canadian cities. Baby equipment rental companies exist in many American cities, and some Canadian ones, too. While the items and brands available for rent vary from company to company, most carry the essentials such as car seats, strollers, cribs, highchairs, booster seats, swings, and bouncers.

Not all rental agencies have the same high standards. To be sure the company you are considering has the standards and equipment that’s right for you, here are some questions you might want to ask.

]Safety Standards
Do the products meet Canadian safety standards? Although products sold in the US and Canada are similar, only products that meet Canadian standards are legal in Canada.

Does the company monitor for safety recalls and safety inspect their equipment between uses?

How is the equipment cleaned? All equipment should be sanitized between uses using anti-bacterial non-toxic fragrance free products.

How old are the items that you are interested in renting? Look for a company that updates its products frequently so you can be sure the items you rent will be similar if not better that the items your kids have at home.

How long has the company been in business? A company that’s been around for a few years should have most of the kinks ironed out and you can feel comfortable that their equipment will be carefully selected and quality tested to meet the unique needs of travellers.

If you’re renting a car seat, look for a company that offers a variety of brands. Car seats, children and cars all come in different sizes, and one brand doesn’t fit all. If you have a small car, make sure it can easily accommodate the seat you are renting. This is especially important if the car seat needs to be installed rear-facing. If you have a small child, look for seats with removable padding or a body pillow.

Some car seats are difficult to clean and install. Ask the company what they look for in selecting a car seat. The most popular or expensive car seats are not necessarily the best ones to use for rental purposes. Ease of securing a child, ease of cleaning and ease of installation should all be factors that a company considers when making its selection. A company that’s been operating for a few years will have tried out a number of seats and will have found seats that satisfy their needs as well as those of their customers.

When it comes to renting a stroller, keep in mind that the stroller your child has at home may not be the one that’s best to rent for their visit. If you’re going to be out and about all day, shopping, or even in and out of the car, look for a stroller that is small, light, has parent and child trays and a large storage basket.

If you need to rent a crib, look for a company that rents folding cribs. Folding cribs come assembled and don’t need to be put together. Regular cribs aren’t meant to be taken apart and put back together over and over and over again, and there’s a chance that doing so could lessen their safety.

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