How to child-proof your holiday home

Families with children make up a large part of the bach rental market. If that’s the market you want to appeal to then here are some tips to make it happen. The good news is that child-friendly measures needn’t be expensive. But you do need to understand what makes children tick and the safety requirements that parents may be looking for.

First and foremost, your house needs to be safe for children. That includes fencing any swimming or spa pool, applying vision strips or frosted line to ranch sliders and installing railings around decks. See our resource article on Health & Safety for more info.

Different needs at different ages

The family market isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Parents of babies and toddlers, for example, will be focussed on safety and the ease of preparing baby food. A family with children in the eight- to 12-year-old range might instead wax lyrical about RCA plugs on the front of the TV to attach a Playstation, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo or similar, or kayaks and other sports equipment available for their use.

What babies and toddlers need

Safety really is a huge issue for parents of babies, crawlers, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Stairs, open fires, wood burners and swimming pools are a hazard for such small children. So are glass vases, nick nacks, and unstable bookshelves. If you want to cater for very young families it’s important to buy some gates for stairs and decks, fire guards, and ensure your section is fully-fenced. These days you can buy portable stair gates and fireguards, which store away when they’re not needed. That means you don’t need to screw them down permanently. There’s also no need to store bulky high chairs – unless you have a good sized garage or storage shed. Portable baby seats that attach to a dining chair or table are available in most baby shops or large department stores.

School age children

Once they reach school age, children are less likely to need as many safety features – although pool fencing is essential and required by law anyway (See Bookabach’s ‘A bach owner’s guide to health and safety regulations’). At this age a TV, DVD, board games and the use of kayaks, for example, are more likely to wow your customers. Some owners such as The Cove in Omaha Beach go further, providing tennis racquets, bikes and surf boards.

Wet days can be a real hassle for parents of “I’M BORED” children. So some cheap board games, books and even a few DVDs at the bach will go a long way to make their holiday enjoyable. And if you’re smart, you can buy them cheaply at a local school fair, garage sale, or Trade Me. 

Going the extra mile

There are many ways to go the extra mile for children and add that special touch to your bach. For example, you could provide bags of toys in age ranges – or leave some tasty treats for kids in your welcome pack. Some family friendly baches such as the Lake House at Lake Rotoiti, are a real haven for children. That property has a children’s play house and sand pit, Playstation console, two high chairs, as well as an extra portacot available on request.

Buying a play house could cost a bomb. But if you have kids yourself it’s worth keeping their paraphernalia even after they grow out of it.

Marketing your family friendly bach

If families are your target market or one you want to encourage, then it’s a good idea to emphasise this in your marketing. You may even want to highlight the fact in your heading on Bookabach – as this bach at Opunake does: “100m to beach, fully fenced, child friendly”. Another easy marketing idea for family baches is including information about the child-friendly features of your bach and local activities for children in your emails when first contacted.

Parents will often want to know if there are safe swimming spots nearby, local walks, family-friendly cafes and restaurants and other activities such as mini golf, skateboard parks, cinemas, libraries, playgrounds, tennis courts and parks. You could, if you know of any, give a list of local babysitters – preferably those with first aid qualifications.

Putting together a simple welcome pack in an A4 folder with all this information can go a long way to making a family’s stay memorable. Local information such as how to get temporary membership of sports clubs or where to rent videos will be much appreciated.

If there is a What’s On guide for your area, include it in your pack. Your guests mightn’t have the knowledge or taken the time to find this information out for themselves and there’s nothing better for a family than local entertainment to keep the kids occupied for a few hours at a time.

Modern babies and children come with ever-increasing paraphernalia needs. The younger the child the more safety equipment you’ll need and, as they grow up, the greater their needs for entertainment – especially on wet days.

It’s a good idea to ensure that whatever you buy conforms to New Zealand or Australian safety standards and have Standards labels attached.

Anything old or broken is a real no-no with parents. Charming retro toys, for example, may have lead paint on them and young kids often chew toys. Old cots can be downright dangerous.  Parents worry about this sort of thing and a holiday spent worrying won’t be relaxing.

To make it easier for you we’ve come up with alphabeticised lists of toys and equipment that can make a family’s stay more comfortable. Much of this stuff can be stored away in cupboards or garages and brought out only when needed.

Useful links:

A bach owner’s guide to health and safety regulations
Child Safety New Zealand
Plunket – child safety pages


Lake Rotoiti Lake House

Must haves

  • Electrical socket covers
  • Fire guards
  • Microwave oven
  • Pool and spa fencing
  • Stair and patio gates

Nice to have

  • Anti-door slammers
  • Board games
  • Books
  • Extra mattresses or fold-out sofas
  • Fenced garden
  • High chair/s
  • Night lights
  • Porta cots
  • Plastic plates, cups and glasses
  • Toys
  • Television and DVD player

Going all out

  • Baby bath
  • Baby monitor
  • Babysitting
  • Blender
  • Buggy
  • Changing mat
  • Cupboard and drawer locks
  • Dinghy
  • Kayaks
  • Life jackets
  • Paddling pool
  • Play mat
  • Playhouse or tree house
  • Playstation/Xbox/Wii/Nintendo
  • Sandpit
  • Steriliser
  • Surfboards or boogie boards
  • Swings
  • Trampoline
Piwa perched