This article is primarily intended to provide advice and ideas for owners of holiday cottages looking to make their properties truly child or baby-friendly, ensuring they really do welcome and cater for families planning a self-catering holiday in the UK.
If you are planning to search for and book baby-friendly cottages, this article will still be of interest if you have a family with young children, giving you an idea about what facilities you can expect to find in holiday cottages where children and babes are welcome.
If you advertise your cottage as being suitable for babies, toddlers and infants, a cot and a high chair is only the start if you really want to appeal to families with young children. If your property is in a location likely to appeal to such families - and isn't full of natural hazards, then going the extra mile to really appeal to what is quite a substantial market is worth a little investment.
First of all, let's think about what any sensible parent will want for their young loved ones to make their holiday less stressful. We've already mentioned a cot and high chair (buy ones that are not only very safe, but which can be easily but scrupulously cleaned) so let's add the following to the list:
- Child-friendly crockery and cutlery (one less thing to have to pack)
- Stair gate (as many as appropriate)
- Baby listening intercom
- Changing mat
- Baby bath
- Emergency kit for those occasions when guest may forget to pack the nappies or sudo-cream!*
- Bean bags or big squashy floor cushions
- Buckets, spades, a wind break and beach toys for beach cottages
- Bedtime reading books (note how much more appealing that sounds than just 'children’s books'
- Toys (why not put them in a toy box to add to their appeal?)
- Outdoor play equipment and toys*
- Sand pit*
- Window locks – especially in children’s bedrooms and bathrooms
- A little edible something special in your welcome pack – just for a toddler.
* - These facilities can require maintenance - so make sure you're equipped to look after them properly.
These are just some of the facilities found in child-friendly cottages listed on portal sites such as My Favourite Holiday Cottages keep ready to please young parents and their little ones. Why not also think about pampering the parents? Don't forget that having young children does shape your lifestyle, such as having to spend the evenings at home. I remember that when our kids were young, we used to look for cottages that helped to remind us that we could be parents and still be romantic!
Here's a list of the facilities and items that will make baby-friendly cottages just as appealing to parents:
- Spa bath/hot tub
- iPod docking station
- HDTV (with Freeview at least - and/or Sky)
- Meal delivery service
- Great places in the garden for outdoor dining (don't forget the fragrant appeal of roses and sweet peas on a summer's evening)
- Snugly sofas and a wood burner or log fire (with suitable fireguards) for cosy autumn evenings
- Toiletries - the type that make you feel special.
- A complimentary pack of playing-cards in your welcome pack for everything from Snap to Bridge
Do take photographs of facilities and include them within your cottage website’s gallery – so much more effective and easier to see than words.
What if you still want to attract guests without children as well as those that do?
Not every visitor will arrive with a gathering of babes and infants strapped into the back seat, so the trick is to try and ensure that overtly baby-friendly items can be stored out of sight – or, like the big squashy floor cushions, hold a cross-generation appeal.
If your cottage also appeals to friends and grown up families - make it clear in your website that all baby items will be stored in cupboards - well out of eyesight - although you might want to leave those floor cushions lying around!
Tell us about the little things you can do for little people. We'd love to add other good ideas to help create baby-friendly cottages and welcome any suggestions for making a cottage baby and parent friendly. The simpler they are to provide and manage, the better. Looking forward to hearing from you.