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All the Comforts of Home for Baby on the Go

July 14, 2002|Evelyn Larrubia

Whether to rent baby gear on a trip depends on many factors, including your family needs and budget, the kind of trip you're taking and where you're headed. Some tips:

* Focus on what you absolutely need and would gladly pay not to have to drag through an airport.

* Check with friends, relatives or your resort, hotel or cruise line to find out what equipment they have available.

* Ask the rental company you're considering about the brands, age and condition of the equipment, the methods and frequency of cleaning the equipment, and whether they stay on top of product recalls. You'll find you're dealing primarily with small businesses--some of which are run out of private homes--so quality may vary.

Baby equipment rentals:

A Web site compiled by an anonymous volunteer lists baby gear rental companies in 28 U.S. states (including Hawaii) and some foreign destinations, including Australia, Canada, France and Britain: www.hometown.aol.com/cribrental. I used this site to find the rental companies I tried.

The American Rental Assn.'s Web site offers a search engine that lists member baby gear companies at selected destinations: www.rentalhq.com. Click on "find a rental store," type in your destination city and state or ZIP Code, then click on "find specific products." A list will pop up; choose the "baby equipment" category.

Baby's Away is a baby supply rental franchise operating in 30 locations in 15 states; (800) 571-0077, www.babiesaway.com.

In San Francisco I used Little- luggage, (877) FLY-BABY (359-2229), fax (501) 694-0877, www.littleluggage.com. The company also has a branch in Los Angeles and plans to open another this month in San Diego.

In Portland, Ore., I used Babies On-the-Go Rentals, (888) 677-BABY (2229), fax (503) 246-3502, www.rent4baby.com.

Other Web sites that suggest rental companies are www.about.com (search for "baby equipment") and www.tinytravelers.net. If you can't find a company at your destination, try a party supply rental store. Some of these companies rent a limited selection of baby items.

For the truly decadent, Baby Travel Solutions delivers disposable diapers (sample: $18.50 for 40 Huggies Ultra Trim newborn size), formula, baby food, wipes, snacks and care kits with baby shampoo and soap, anywhere in the country; (888) 989-0302, fax (303) 428-7479, www.babytravelsolutions.com.

Parents who use cloth diapers should call ahead to a diaper service at their destination. Many of them will agree to short-term service of a week or two as a courtesy.

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