I have no data to prove this, but I think children are the second most common reason people decide not to RV. The first reason would be money–being unsure how to make a living on the road.
I’m proof that you can have children, as young as newborns, in an RV fulltime. On Dec. 4, 2016, when Caspian Theodore was one day old, we brought him home from the hospital to live in his new home on wheels. He’s one year old now, and we have no regrets about continuing our lifestyle of travel with him by our side.
Whether you have a one year old already, or you’re considering expanding your family and can’t picture how it will work, this article is for you. I’m pulling back the curtains to encourage you to pursue your dreams of travel.
If you haven’t already, you may want to read “Making Room for Baby in an RV,” which I wrote last year when Caspian was only two months old. If you’re past that stage already, then here’s what you can expect to learn in this article:
- What stuff do we need for our one year old in an RV?
- Where do we store all of our one year old’s things in our RV?
- What do normal, daily routines look like when you’re living in an RV?
Let’s dig into each question.
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What Stuff Do We Use and Where Does It Go?
Caspian slept in a Rock ‘n Play through four months, and then we moved him into the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib by Guava. You might look at the Lotus and think it’s a hip-looking Pack ‘n Play, but it has some unique features like:
- Really light-weight, in and out of the travel case
- Side zipper for easy access
- Mesh that allows for airflow and a full view of your child
- No flame retardants, PVC, phthalates, or lead
- Seriously easy to store and set up, with small travel case
When I was studying sleep training, I read cautions about what you use or what you do to put your baby to sleep. If you give them a bottle immediately before bed, baby will expect to eat before going back to sleep, if she wakes up in the middle of the night. If you play music, baby will come to expect music every time he needs to go back to sleep.
Our only indulgence is the Dohm sound machine. Caspian has slept with it since he was tiny. What I love about the Dohm is that it’s small enough to fit in Caspian’s backpack, when we go to a friend’s home and need to put him to sleep there. We’ve done this so many times in the past year and it’s worked out great. It’s never hard to find an electrical outlet, and it brings Caspian an association from home that puts him straight to sleep. I’m blessed to have such a good sleeper.
Caspian’s high chair has been perfect for RV life. He uses the Inglesina table chair, which affixes to the edge of the table. It’s rated to 37 pounds, so we should have a few more months with it.
The chair is extremely light-weight and easy to transport. We used it at our timeshare in Florida and my parents’ home in Texas. The cover comes off and is machine washable. And there’s a clip-on tray that’s easy to clean. Win, win, win, so many wins.
I cloth diaper in an RV. It’s easy and you can do it, too.
My own words are funny to me because I was completely overwhelmed when I got started. Which cloth diaper style do I choose? How do I wash them? Can I use diaper cream? So many ins and outs. Fortunately, I found some great resources to simplify my confusion, and I’ll share them all soon in a separate article.
In the meantime, here’s the skinny (or chunky, in the case of Caspian’s thighs). I use the Flip Hybrid cloth diaper, which uses a waterproof cover on the outside and cloth on the inside (they’re sold separately). I have 8 covers and 24 “Stay-Dry” cloth inserts. With that amount, I wash every three days.
The Flip Hybrids are one size, which is awesome because you won’t have to replace them. I’ve heard some moms say that they use them for multiple children because they hold up so well.
My reasons for cloth diapering are environmental and financial. The environmental is obvious: using cloth diapers drastically reduces the amount of waste I’m sending to the landfill. But the financial is truly stunning. Did you know that parents spend $1,500-2,000 diapering one child? In contrast, my set of cloth diapers cost less than $250. If anyone besides me wants to save $1,250+, follow the arrow below to Amazon. 👊
Caspian’s cloth diapers live on the top shelf of his cabinet in our bedroom, with his other linens.
Before Caspian was born, Eric and I talked a lot about his clothing. Like our own wardrobes, we wanted to limit his. Rather than buying many pieces of clothing he’d only wear a few times before outgrowing, we decided to buy fewer pieces that we really liked–and we were willing to pay more for them.
We do a lot of Baby Gap and Osh Gosh, and Carter’s for play clothes. And we *scored* on Black Friday, with adorable things from Old Navy and Baby Gap at huge savings.
Other than that, I’ve been loving Target’s current line. Last time we were there, we found a lot of travel-related items. One sweatshirt says, “Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder.” Another t-shirt has a map of the world across the front and back, and says, “See the World.” I couldn’t resist!
All of Caspian’s clothing lives on the bottom shelf of his cabinet. I used to have shelving from The Container Store, but it didn’t fit right and started to bother me. I now fold his clothing by type and it just sits on the bottom of the shelf. As he gets bigger, I’ll need to figure out how to use all the available space.
We limit Caspian’s toys–the amount and size. His toy drawer is one of the drawers beneath our dinette. Over time, we’ve started to use one of our Ikea baskets for his toys, too. The only problem is that I need the basket on moving day to hold everything on the kitchen counter, so I end up dumping the toys into his crib!
When he’s old enough, we plan to teach him our “one in, one out” rule. He can decide whether he wants a new toy enough to donate one of his old toys.
Our BOB Revolution SE stroller is as good as it was 15 months ago. I love it so much. It continues to be our baby item with the largest footprint, but it’s so worth it.
We went to Disney World with my parents in November. Leading up to it, I did a ton of planning. I was having a hard time picturing our massive stroller navigating the crowds, so I was planning to buy a cheap, umbrella-type stroller for the one week.
All of the blog articles and forum threads I read convinced me otherwise. I took our BOB and had an awesome experience with it. Caspian was so comfy over all those hours of sitting. He had abundant shade. We had lots of storage. And we tied a colorful balloon to the handlebar, to make it easy to spot in the stroller parking. 😉
I would go on a speaking circuit for this thing.
Our stroller is stored in the back of the Jeep.
Caspian’s outgrew his Graco infant car seat around his first birthday. My plans to get a Diono were derailed with a recall in late 2016. But we held out until the adjusted car seats were back in stores, and got an amazing 20% discount at Buy Buy Baby with a first-time subscribers coupon. We didn’t know about the coupon until we were at the register, so it was a really pleasant surprise.
I’m sold on the Diono Rainier for its safety features. It has a full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides. I only wish I had skipped the Graco altogether, since the Rainier is rated for children from 5-120 pounds!
One of the other things that prompted me to look at Diono is its dimensions, depth and width. It’s not easy to find a car seat that fits a Jeep Wrangler because of the narrow seat. Fortunately, we have zero issues with the Diono Rainier.
Where would I be without my carrier? With it, I’ve taken Caspian so many places we couldn’t have gone otherwise. This past week, we completed a 6.7 mile hike at Caprock Canyons State Park with Caspian in the carrier. It was the most challenging hike I’ve ever attempted, requiring me to use both my hands for climbing at some points. But Caspian was a trooper and even fell asleep on the last leg.
I chose to get the Airflow model of the Lillebaby carrier. It has breathable mesh for max air circulation, which really helps during insane hikes.
We still use Caspian’s Eddie Bauer diaper “backpack,” the same one he’s had from birth. It’s held up super well. The only wear and tear is with the changing pad that came with the backpack. It has a small tear on one side, but it’s still usable. All of the stitching on the actual backpack is intact, and the color hides dirt well.
With a whooping 11 pockets, including an insulated bottle pocket, I’m super happy we went with this product in lieu of a diaper bag.
What Is Our Daily Routine?
Alright. So we don’t have a lot of stuff for our one year old. Fine. But what about the actual day-to-day? Can a baby learn how to walk in such a confined space? Does he wake up when we turn on the television or answer the phone?
If there’s anything you need to know, it’s that young children are adaptable. I am fairly convinced that Caspian can sleep anywhere. He’s fallen asleep:
- Rolling over boulders on an off-road trail in the Jeep
- At a SXSW concert just a few feet from the speaker (he had noise-cancelling headphones)
- In a storm shelter during a tornado warning
- Bouncing around in the carrier at the end of a 6.5-mile hike
Is he a magic baby? It’s very possible. But it’s more likely that he’s just an adaptable baby because he’s learned to be.
The following is our daily routine, but it changes because it has to. We travel fulltime in a home on wheels. The good news is that Caspian is thriving, with a beautiful life ahead of him.
On an uninterrupted day, this is Caspian’s current schedule:
- Wake up between 6:30-7 a.m.
- Breakfast at 7:15 a.m.
- Playtime or walk in the stroller
- Snack at 9:15 a.m.
- Nap from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Lunch at 12:15 p.m.
- Playtime, walk, or errands
- Snack at 2:15 p.m.
- Nap from 3-4 p.m.
- Dinner at 6:15 p.m.
- Bath and bedtime routine at 6:45 p.m.
- Bedtime around 7:15 p.m.
I believe in structure, and have had Caspian on a schedule since he was a few weeks old. I don’t stress when life gets in the way.
The other day when we were eating grilled bratwursts outside, Caspian was toddling up to my patio chair for a bite, then toddling off to pick up a rock or climb around the patio. I said to Eric, “We were never going to be those parents.” We both appreciate structure and value the way our parents disciplined us. But there’s something adorable about a one year old exploring the world between bites.
We don’t have room for a changing table in our Class A motorhome, even at 40 feet long. But it hasn’t bothered me a bit. I use the Skip Hop Baby Pronto changing pad, taking it into whatever room I need it in. Typically, the changing pad sits on my bed, partially within Caspian’s crib. I had no idea the side zipper on the Lotus would come in so handy!
Caspian’s cabinet with his cloth diapers, cloth wipes, coconut oil, and diaper cream is within arm’s reach of the bed.
Free Play Time
Baby-proofing an RV is both easier and harder than baby-proofing a house. It’s a smaller space with minimal, stream-lined features. That’s the plus. But it was designed by people who didn’t think a second about babies crawling around.
Example #1: When the foot rest on the passenger captain’s chair is up, the underside is all jagged metal pieces. For the longest time, we couldn’t use the foot rest when Caspian was crawling around.
Example #2: In the bathroom, there are two switches for the light and water pump that are at Caspian’s eye-level. How am I supposed to cover those up while keeping them usable?
And this doesn’t apply to babies as much as children in general, but…
Example #3: Caspian won’t be able to open the fridge until he’s like 10. No, seriously. There’s one of those tabs that you need to push down before pulling the door out, and it’s a solid four feet off the ground.
Anyway…free play time is in constant flux. Caspian’s interests and capabilities seem to expand daily. From a mobility standpoint, he took his first set of steps in early January when he was 13 months. But he used crawling as his primary means of transport for weeks after that. This past week on March 6 was the turning point–the day he walked more than he crawled. I’ve been purposely taking him outside to practice walking, and that’s made a huge difference. It’s still surreal that my tiny baby is walking.
RVers can’t live inside. It’s maddening for adults by themselves, and it’s maddening when you have a one year old. I try to get outside with Caspian as often as possible, whether it’s to take a walk with the stroller, sit on our patio rug, find a playground, or just run errands.
Working With a Baby
I think the topic of working with a baby will need an article of its own. It’s been hard. At this point, it looks like:
- Not working while Caspian is awake
- Aka fitting a full day of work into about two and a half hours during his naps
- Aka working late at night after he goes to bed
- Aka not working out so well
Honestly, I’ve learned to work more efficiently and work isn’t a complete disaster right now. This is a temporary phase that won’t last forever. So even if I don’t find a solution–and I am still trying to delegate more and work smarter–I just have to hang tight until Caspian is a bit older. I want to stay present in the hear and now, rather than wishing things were different.
Naps and Bedtime
During the day, the Lotus crib sits on top of our queen bed in the bedroom. Caspian takes his naps and starts his nighttime sleep there. The size works out perfectly so that there’s ample safe space on each side of the crib, with no danger of it falling off the bed.
When Eric and I are ready to go to sleep, Eric holds Caspian while I move the crib to the living area. It sits between our kitchen and fold-out table, across from our sofa.
All I have to do to fit the crib through the hall is to turn it sideways, slightly angling the “feet” through the doorway. It can be annoying when I’m tired and running into things (yes, funny mental picture), but this phase of life is short. Caspian will be out of this crib before I know it, and I have no desire to hasten that day. 😭
Making Room for a One Year Old in an RV
I love living in an RV with a one year old. He sits up on the spacious dashboard and happily watches people, vehicles, and wildlife go by. The other day during one of his meals, he spotted a stunning cardinal outside the window right in front of him, before Eric saw it. Here at Caprock Canyons State Park in north Texas, we get to see a prairie dog town and free-roaming bison on our daily walks. Caspian is drinking it all in.
Yeah, there are challenges. But I’ll take them because I see how this lifestyle is already benefitting my child, making him flexible, appreciative, empathetic, and wise.
I’m far from an expert, but I want to be a resource to you. Feel free to ask me any questions, and I will answer them transparently.
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.