Most lodging facilities bend over backward to help a parent traveling with a child on business or holiday. Some even go so far as to encourage pint-sized guests.

The Hershey (Pennsylvania) Pocono Resort, for example, offers parents its free "Leave the Children to Us" program, complete with a nursery for infants. Resort staff will even take guests' children to dinner so that adults can dine alone.

In Phoenix, The Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs opened its Waterin' Hole Child Care Center for use by guests and local residents, while Tulsa's Sheraton Kensington steers moms and dads to the child-care center in the adjacent shopping gallery.

Locally, the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill features "The Children's Suite," a child-care program available from the middle of June to the end of August for children of hotel guests and local residents. Staff from the local YMCA operate the program, in cooperation with the hotel, in a suite that has been converted into an indoor play area. Tested last summer, the facility earned the hotel national first-place honors for guest services at the American Hotel and Motel Association's annual conference in June.

The Suite offers computers, games, crafts, a rocking horse, play kitchen, slide and sleeping area for potty-trained children. Rates are $15 for up to four hours and $25 for 5-12 hours. Discounts apply for additional siblings. Slightly more than 100 children, mostly hotel guests, visited the facility last summer.

Probably nothing compares to the Las Vegas Hilton, which makes baby-sitting so luxurious and easy that it looks like, well, child's play.

Over a million children have been tended in its $2 million "Youth Hotel," a sort of hotel-within-a-hotel where children aged 3 to 18 can play, sleep, read or relax under supervision for an hour or overnight.

The 17-year-old Youth Hotel, "it's scale unmatched by any other hotel" in the country, is open only to the children of guests of the city's two Hiltons, according to director Stan Plocica. The cost is $3.80 per hour for day care and $20 for the midnight-to-morning dormitory stay, which requires advance notice. (Hotel-room sitters for younger children are available at $4 per hour.)

Telephone booths, a walk-in playhouse, building materials, games and toys are available indoors for young children, and an outdoor playground features swings, a sandbox, climbing equipment and the like. Video games, pool, air hockey, Ping-Pong, football and bumper pool are available for teen-agers. A snack bar and arts and crafts activities are provided for all ages.