It's yet another business trip for Hannah Burt.

Her bag is packed, the hotel suite booked and the car waiting to whisk her to the airport.

Wait, did she forget to pack her fuzzy blanket? No, it's tucked near the top of her carry-on bag.

She grabs Daddy's hand and the two head out the door.

Hannah Burt is 4 years old. Her father, Dan Burt, a D.C. lawyer who travels frequently, thinks of her as he does his American Express card: He wouldn't leave home without her -- not even on his business trips.

It wasn't always that way.

For the first year of her life, Hannah stayed at home with Mom, Maree Webster, when her father's law practice sent him out of Washington. But litigation kept him from his family so often that when Hannah turned 2, he decided to try taking her with him.

His wife, busy at that time pursuing her doctorate as well as running a business, did not object. The first trip turned out so well he took her on a second, third, fourth. ... He's now lost count.

Why does he keep it up? "It's very simple. This is my only child. I'm over 40, and I miss her intensely" when away on business, explains Burt, a partner at Burt, Maner & Miller, whose cases over the years have earned him national attention.

Marcia Desmond, 38, knows what he's talking about. As a first-time mother, she also is reluctant to leave her toddler behind when her job in Denver with the American Hospital Association demands she go out of town. So she regularly packs up the stroller, diapers, talky bear and storybooks and heads with 2-year-old Meghan from her Boulder home to Stapleton International Airport.

Meghan, no stranger to airline departure lounges, has waited in lines for seat assignments, baggage pick-up and taxis since she was 8 months old. She even belongs to United's frequent-flyer program.

"When meetings are over with at the end of the day, it's nice to go back to the hotel room and have her there," says Desmond. Not only does Desmond enjoy Meghan joining her on many of her trips, but it gives her husband, Earl Tawney, a break from juggling his work and child care every time his wife is away.

It's anyone's guess how many parents regularly take a child with them on business, but representatives from hotels and sitting services say more and more business travelers are bringing their children with them, due largely to mothers entering the work force and to two-career couples in pursuit of professional goals waiting until their thirties before starting a family.

Just a few years ago, says Nancy Richards, Washington franchise owner of Sitters Unlimited, a national sitting service, business travelers seldom called her office in search of child care. These days, "we get half a dozen requests a week" from a parent staying in a Washington-area hotel who needs a sitter while he or she attends business functions. In addition, her firm is hired by convention organizers about once a month to tend children of convention-goers. "Four years ago, we handled about one convention every six months," Richards says.

It may be just a matter of time before hotels' business clientele are more regularly sighted at the check-in counter holding both a briefcase and diaper bag. Her office staff tells stories of a mother shuttling between meetings and hotel room to nurse an infant -- one reason why mothers bring along a baby -- and a father who dressed his three young daughters in fancy ruffles and hair ribbons and proudly paraded them through the hotel lobby. "He had the routine down. He obviously had done it before," one staffer recalls.

Although a parent traveling alone on business does not commonly take a child along, according to Betsy Bromberg, spokeswoman for the American Hotel and Motel Association, the number of women registering into hotels has skyrocketed from 1 percent in 1975 to nearly 40 percent today. That statistic alone suggests it may be just a matter of time before hotels' business clientele are more regularly sighted at the check-in counter holding both a briefcase and diaper bag.

Burt and Desmond know they are in a minority with their tote-a-kid business traveling.

Many business executives are "astonished," in Burt's words, to learn he's brought his daughter along, and sometimes they'll let him know they disapprove of the practice. Usually the opposition quickly fades, he says, but he doesn't let it bother him if it doesn't. "Tough."

Desmond agrees. "Ten years ago I would have thought it very unprofessional to bring your child with you. Now I could care less what people think."

Daughter Meghan, in White Fish, Mont., on her first business trip, was invited to accompany her mother for what Desmond mistakenly thought was to be a dinner gathering of just herself and a longtime associate. She was dismayed when they were joined by several other colleagues whose faces could not hide their shock at seeing an 8-month-old in a highchair at their table. To her relief, the group's senior executive "ignored the men and me. He spent the evening rubbing noses and playing with Meghan." After that trip, she worried no more.

Burt is so comfortable with his daughter's presence that he arranges for her to visit him at the client's office where he's working.

Hannah's typical day on the road with Dad starts early, with the two awakening before 6 o'clock so that they can spend at least an hour together before Burt leaves to work.

The key to Burt's travel success is the nanny who accompanies him and Hannah. After Burt departs in the morning, the nanny bathes Hannah and the two then stroll in a park or tour some city sight. They visit Burt in midmorning, followed by a snack at the hotel, a recreational activity, lunch and a nap for Hannah. They return to Burt's office around 3:30 or 4 for her midafternoon appearance.

Her visits are no big deal, he says. No matter what he's doing, he drops it, introduces Hannah to whomever is around, inquires about her day's activities and then returns to work. She may stay five minutes or as long as an hour. He says the interruption doesn't perturb business associates, who only care that Burt does his job.

Burt's unbroken rule is that he spend between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with Hannah so that the two dine and read together before she goes to bed. "I don't let anyone else put her to bed." After settling her between the sheets, Burt frequently returns to the office or joins associates for dinner.

Desmond has to plan ahead when Meghan joins her, calling in advance to arrange child care and, if a rental car is needed, reserve an infant safety seat. In most cases, the lodging facility provides her with the name of an individual or a bonded baby-sitting service (hotels in metropolitan areas usually recommend bonded services only) that it has located through referrals or the Yellow Pages and found to be reliable. Before departing home, Desmond makes it a practice to telephone the sitter for added reassurance.

Sitting charges vary by city, usually ranging from $3 to $6 per hour with 24-hour notice, or a dollar more per hour without notice. "So far I've not had any unpleasant experiences," notes Desmond.

Not that some awkward moments don't arise.

Burt recalls the late-night meeting in his hotel suite with two men "who had severe {legal} problems. We were having a very serious discussion, and Hannah pushed the door open, wanted to come out and join the festivities. I said, 'No, none of that. Back to bed.'

"I remember that incident well because the men were quite non-plussed. They didn't really know what to do."

A memorable moment for Desmond was when she opened her briefcase atop a conference table only to have a pacifier topple out in full view of everyone.

Are such incidents embarrassing?

"Only if you're insecure," says Burt. "It's a matter of priorities. My daughter is more important than the business."

Actually, he finds Hannah's presence bolsters his relationship with clients. "I'm a lawyer with a reputation for being very hard. Clients are rather more comfortable with a person who has a human side to him," says Burt.

While it may appear costly to include a child on business trips, the additional expense is not significant, says Desmond, who must pay for a sitter anyway when her daughter remains at home. Meghan flew for free until age 2 and now qualifies for a child fare, when it's available.

Desmond, whose business expense account does not cover child care, once paid the round-trip air fare for a friend who agreed to care for Meghan while Desmond attended daylong meetings.

"I figured it out that it was only going to cost me $20 more to fly her to Washington than to pay for a sitter once I got there," Desmond says.

After numerous business trips with their children, Burt and Desmond are able to offer some practical advice to others contemplating similar excursions:

"First," says Burt, "you have to love that child very much. Second, you must be very imaginative."

He recalls:

"Just the two of us were traveling together on a small commuter plane and suddenly she had to go to the bathroom. This plane didn't have a bathroom. I looked around desperately. She wasn't wearing diapers at the time. Suddenly I seized upon the air-sickness bag.

"It worked perfectly. When she was finished, I quietly bundled the bag up and put it on the floor. The man in back of me thought that was very funny and congratulated me."

Burt also advises against changing the child's diet or the times for naps, bed and meals and insists the parents be available to the child during the day. "You can't disappear for 10 hours at a stretch."

Desmond recommends you try to stay in a hotel that provides rooms with refrigerators so that it's easy to keep a baby bottle. If you're finicky about hotel cleanliness, take your own crib sheets and a can of disinfectant.

Neither Burt nor Desmond regard their daughters as exceptional in their ability and fondness to travel, but acknowledge they've been spared serious mishaps and problems. "The big challenge is when she goes to school," says Burt, anticipating when Hannah's education will conflict with his desires to travel with her.

"She's going to miss a lot of school."

Wanda Warner is a Loudoun County free-lance writer.