Babies are associated with stuff, lots and lots of stuff. If you’re an RVing couple considering a new addition, or have a baby in the family already and are weighing the pros and cons of RV life, you may wonder whether your dreams are remotely realistic. Can you even wash the dishes without waking the baby when your home is 40 feet long or less?
Eric and I have a two-month-old son, Caspian, and are beginning our fourth year of full-time RV travel. We had a lot of discussions about making room for baby in an RV. Some things we could plan for, but other times we couldn’t do much better than, “We’ll figure it out.” We’ve always said the RV lifestyle requires flexibility, and that’s never been more true. Hopefully this rundown of…
- What baby stuff we chose to get
- Where it all goes
- What the daily routines look like
…will be helpful to you. Whenever I started to get anxious about making room for baby in an RV, I reminded myself that many others have done it before me, so I can do it, too! Now two months in, I have absolutely no regrets.
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What Baby Stuff Did We Choose to Get and Where Does It Go?
Baby brands have their talons in every new mom who wants the absolute best for her baby. Just look at overflowing diaper bags everywhere. As fulltime RVers, we had no choice but to be extremely selective about what we added to our baby registry. We stuck to the essentials, and got creative when it came to finding smaller versions of those essentials (a four-foot-wide baby changing table is 10 percent of our home’s length = not an option). Don’t be afraid to state clearly and firmly to loved ones that what you need is on your registry, and you don’t have room for anything else!
While you can opt for a light-weight stroller with a tiny footprint, I indulged myself. Our BOB Revolution SE is a Cadillac, and the largest baby item we own. It lives in the back of the Jeep and we store it in the basement when necessary. The few times it has come inside, it has taken up about a quarter of our living room floor space.
Why get such a large stroller? First and foremost, I’ve always wanted a BOB! I love the way they handle, and they’re built so well I could save ours for Caspian’s kids to use. On a more practical level, the fact the BOB is so durable makes it suitable for our many explorations. While BOB makes a different model especially for rough terrain, the SE is a good balance for city and trail use.
UPDATE: I’m adding this note in November 2017, after using our BOB for 11 months. Right now, this stroller has four and a half stars on Amazon, with over 740 reviews. It’s easy to see why. It’s everything I had hoped for, and hasn’t kept us from going anywhere because of its size. In fact, we’ll be spending three days at Disney World with it next week.
Caspian currently sleeps in a Rock ‘n Play. I consider this item indispensable for RV living with a baby! Buttons on either side cause it to collapse flat for easy storage. When in use, it’s small enough to fit on any side of our bed.
After experimentation, we decided Caspian would take all his daytime naps in the Rock n’ Play at the foot of our bed. We have to make sure we grab clothes or other items we need before he goes to sleep because we can’t access some of the drawers while he’s there. Not gonna lie–I’ve forgotten more than once and had to do an awkward ninja crawl across the bed to get to the closet.
At night, the Rock n’ Play moves to the living room.
We’ll need a bigger sleep space by the time Caspian is four months. I was excited to find the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib by Guava. I describe it as a high-end Pack ‘n Play. Made with quality materials, the Lotus collapses into a tiny carrying case for RV moving days or visits to see the grandparents. The case has straps and can be worn as a backpack. At home, it’ll sit in our living room where Trogdor used to live.
From my earlier comment, you may have already guessed we don’t have a four-foot-wide changing table in our RV. Instead, I use a simple changing pad you would keep in your diaper bag. It sits on the bed during the day and moves to the sofa for the nighttime change. As Caspian gets bigger, I’m going to want some extra protection under the changing pad. We’ve already had some exciting diaper incidents.
Caspian is just starting to have substantial wake times, but we can’t hold him 24/7 (especially in the morning when we’re working). So we recently went out and got him a jungle play mat with lights, music, sounds and colorful hangy things. Right now the play mat is in the space where the Lotus crib is going to live, which means the mat will have to take up some of our living room walkway eventually. Fortunately, it only takes a second to fold it up and put to the side.
We considered getting Caspian a swing, but I don’t think he’d get enough use out of it at this point. In retrospect, this is something we could’ve had for him at birth that he probably would’ve liked a lot.
We already store a few things in our bath tub (yes, we actually have a small tub in our Tiffin Phaeton!) we have to move every time someone wants to take a shower. So I didn’t even consider adding one of those plastic baby tubs to the mix. Instead, I discovered the Puj tub, which stores flat and uses magnets to hold its shape during bath time.
We used the Puj in the bathroom sink when Caspian was super fresh. But now I prefer to bathe with him and the Puj tub. This is one of our most precious times together. Caspian loves bath time and feels really comfortable in his little tub.
First of all, we have a diaper “backpack.” We agreed on a manly variety Eric was willing to carry around. This compromise has paid off for me big time.
This is a weird item because I need it accessible, but I don’t use it every day. I’ve ended up keeping it on my side of the bed under the mattress platform ledge, where it’s mostly out of the way.
We chose our car seat based on our Jeep Rubicon. The Rubicon has a narrower seat and only a couple of car seat models are safe to use. Ours is the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35. We pretty much never bring it inside because–again–it takes up a huge percentage of our floor space.
Until Caspian can hold his head up, we use the Graco Car Seat Adapter by BOB to put his car seat into the stroller.
Smaller items I opted for include:
- Maya sling
- LILLEbaby carrier
- Inglesina table chair (not using this for a few more months)
- Dohm sound machine
One thing we don’t have yet that I wish we did is a baby monitor. Eric was incredulous when I mentioned it before Caspian was born. How could we possibly need a baby monitor when we live in a 40-foot RV? Well, it turns out that when we’re trying to grill dinner outside or actually relax for a few minutes, it would help to know whether Caspian has woken up yet without having to go inside. In the meantime, Eric has jury-rigged our walkie talkies as a make-shift baby monitor using the VOX function.
Is there anything we got that we didn’t actually need? As I glance down my registry and shopping list, if I’m being absolutely honest, I have to say no. Like I mentioned, I was really selective to begin with. We started with the absolute basics, and have only added a few things we realized we needed or would like to have.
What Do the Daily Routines Look Like?
Newborns don’t do a lot. Caspian’s routine at two-months-old is as follows:
- Wake up
- Diaper change
We repeat that exact cycle six times during the day, and wake up once at night for eating and a diaper change.
All that to say there aren’t many routines yet. This will change in the future and I’ll be sure to share as we cross those bridges.
Caspian wakes up in the living room around 6:30/7 a.m. every morning. Eric and I wake up around 6:30 a.m. and try to be as silent as possible as we go about our morning routines, which mostly consist of making the bed and eating breakfast.
Before Caspian’s first nap of the day around 8 a.m., I move his Rock n’ Play and sound machine into the bedroom. This works well, since Eric and I don’t use our bedroom for anything during the day (other than grabbing clothes or other items that are stored there).
Our nighttime routine has changed since Caspian’s arrival, perhaps the most “inconvenient” routine change for us. With the Rock n’ Play and sound machine back in the living room, Caspian goes to sleep for the night around 9:30 p.m. I’m not a night person and am usually ready to read in bed by that time, but Eric likes to watch TV as he winds down. Before Caspian arrived, I could have my quiet time in the bedroom while Eric watched TV in the living room. Now we both have to be in the bedroom by 9:30 p.m., so we take turns compromising for the other person.
I used the word “inconvenient,” but it hasn’t been a huge deal so far. However, I know Caspian’s bedtime is going to get quite a bit earlier as he gets older. This is one of the things we’ll have to figure out because I’m not sure what it looks like yet. Maybe he’ll go to sleep in the bedroom, and then we’ll move him into the living room when we’re ready to sleep? I know neither of us want to be relegated to the bedroom by 7 p.m.!
Caspian easily spends four+ hours eating every day. I knew I’d need a place with good back support to sit and feed him. Our passenger chair has become that place. It’s a comfortable leather Flexsteel captain’s chair with a footrest. Even better, there’s a fold-out table right beside it where I can keep water and whatever else I need. I never sat in this chair before Caspian came, but now I’m so grateful for it.
One thing I have missed is good back support in bed. We took out the cornice box and blinds and replaced them with a curtain. Even if it was comfortable to lean against the window behind our bed–which it isn’t–I couldn’t do so without putting strain on the curtain rod.
I already covered this. I use a simple changing pad on our bed during the day, and move it to the sofa at night. I keep diapers, diaper cream, etc. in the cabinet right beside our bed, which is super handy. That’s also where Caspian’s clothes are.
We hold Caspian to talk and play with him whenever we can. When we’re working or need to have our hands free, we place him on a blanket on the floor with a book and his stuffed monkey, Tickles, or we use his jungle play mat. His length of interest varies, but it’s been working well so far. I have no clue what we’re going to do during work hours once he’s crawling/walking. We may need to work in shifts or put a dog pen in the living room (half joking)?
Making Room for Baby in an RV
Making room for baby in an RV is completely doable. We have it easy; there are families with six or seven children who live in RVs smaller than ours! It’s a matter of perspective. Reality is that people in cultures throughout history have lived with three generations in one-room homes. We’re blessed to have a choice, but we should all be honest with ourselves about what we really “need.” Isn’t it more important to be together as a family than it is to have a posh nursery both parents rarely get to see because they’re too busy working full-time jobs to pay for all the stuff?
I’m learning as I go, but I’m here as a resource as you contemplate RV life with a baby. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
You can check out the Facebook Live video version of this article, where Caspian and I give you a tour of our RV, sharing the products and routines mentioned in this article.