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  • Writer's pictureJalin Coblentz

Getting Your RV Ready For a Newborn: Everything You Need to Know

First off, let's start this article by saying that if you live in an RV and are planning to start a family in that same RV, people will call you crazy. However, just because it's untraditional and non-RVers won't understand, it's perfectly possible and reasonable to raise a newborn in an RV.

However, raising a baby in an RV will certainly pose some challenges, both unique and typical for new parents. This article will share what some of those obstacles are, how to deal with them, and how to minimize them as much as possible.

The Challenges of Raising a Baby in an RV

Regardless of what type of RV you have, with very few exceptions, they are simply a small space. As such, the biggest challenge you'll face is finding a spot for all the baby essentials, such as a crib, changing table, bassinet, pack-N-play, and more. The only exception to the small space rule is if you have a toy hauler with an empty garage that you can turn into whatever you desire.

However, because most RVers have travel trailers, motorized RVs, or fifth-wheels, we'll focus on the issues that these types of rigs will face.

Start With Baby Proofing Basics

Regardless of where you choose to raise a baby, there are basic baby-proofing practices that you should follow.

  • Installing outlet covers on all outlets

  • Installing a baby gate if you have a fifth wheel or keep your RV door open

  • Put knob covers on your stove knobs

  • Install cabinet locks on all drawers and cabinet doors

  • Consider a toilet latch once your baby is old enough to lift the toilet lid

Once your RV is baby-proofed with all the traditional tricks, you're ready to move on to the more complicated issues.

Find a Spot For the Crib

First things first, you'll need a good spot for your crib. While you may be able to get by with a bassinet at first, your little one will need a crib eventually, so you might as well find a spot right off the bat.

Finding the perfect spot for your crib will depend on the layout of your camper. If you have a bunk room, for instance, the best spot is most likely in the bunk room. It's possible that there's a spot along one of the walls in the bunk room, but it's also possible that you'll need to remove one of the bunks to make space for the crib.

Because our RV does not have a bunk room, we went a different route. Our layout consists of a master bedroom, bathroom, and a large kitchen/living area that's one large room. In the portion of the living area that used to hold the dining room table, we removed the table and replaced it with our crib.

It ended up being a perfect situation because after installing the crib, there was enough space between the crib and the couch for a small supply cart. The cart served to hold essentials, such as diapers, wipes, extra clothes, and more.

Find a Spot For the Changing Table

Next, after you have a spot picked out for your crib, you'll need to do the same for a changing table. When it comes to changing tables, you have two basic options. First, you can replace another piece of furniture with the changing table, much as you did with the crib.

The second option, and the route we ended up taking, was to purchase a changing pad instead of a table. That way, we can simply move the changing pad to multiple parts of the camper, depending on where our baby is sleeping.

Additionally, most RVs simply don't have space for all the standard baby "necessities." As such, you'll quickly learn that most necessities are actually commodities that you can live without.

Finding a Bath Time Solution

Another obstacle you'll run into with an RV is the bath time situation. Most RV bathrooms don't have a traditional bathtub. Instead, they have a very shallow shower, usually no more than two or three inches deep. Additionally, most RVs are only equipped with a showerhead that's directly connected to the sole spigot via a hose.

Therefore, bath time poses two potential problems: finding a way to quickly fill the small bathtub with water and getting enough water into the bathtub to give your little one a proper bath.

If you choose to use the two to three-inch deep bathtub, you'll either need to fill it via the showerhead, which takes a while, or you'll need to unscrew the showerhead hose from the spigot. If you choose to go this route, bathtime can take what feels like forever, and that's just to get enough water into the tiny tub to get started.

Alternatively, you can buy a separate baby bathtub, such as the Moby Skip & Hop three-stage tub. That way, you can fill the tub with water and give your tot either a true bath or a sponge bath, if their cord hasn't fallen off yet. I highly recommend this route if you're planning to keep living the RV life immediately after your baby is born.

Storage Space For Clothes, Pampers, and More

If you haven't noticed yet, there's a common theme when it comes to getting an RV ready for a newborn, and that's that space is sorely limited. In addition to a crib, feeding supplies, changing tables, and everything else, you'll also need extra space for clothes, pampers, and more.

To circumnavigate this issue, we took a three-pronged approach. First, we purchased a bunch of bins from Target that were small enough to fit under the couch, filled them with baby clothes based on age, and turned the sub-couch space into a mini closet. Next, we have a miniature, two-drawer dresser at the foot of our bed that we dedicated solely to baby blankets, more clothes, and other baby essentials.

Finally, the crib we purchased has a drawer on the bottom that pulls out and makes for an excellent storage bin. We use it for extra sheets, a few changes of clothing in case of a midnight blowout, burp rags, and blankets. Between these three areas, we have just enough room for all of our baby essentials.

Do You Need a Baby Monitor in an RV?

While RVs are much smaller and tighter than a traditional home, you still want to have a baby monitor. Baby monitors will make it so that you don't have to be in the same room as your newborn 24/7. This is important because many RVs don't have master bedrooms large enough for a traditional crib.

Therefore, as the baby grows and needs to move to a crib rather than a bedside bassinet, you'll want a baby monitor to keep tabs on them throughout the night. Baby monitors will also give you peace of mind if you're outside and your baby is napping inside. Either way, baby monitors are a great idea for all parents, and I recommend going with the Lollipop.

Cut Out Non-Essential Items

Like we said before, once you start prepping your RV for a newborn, you quickly find out that there are certain "essentials" that you can do without. Most RVs, especially a towable RV, pop-up campers, and other small rigs, simply don't have room for everything. This is the problem that we ran into, and here are some of the things we decided to cut out.

  • Microwave

  • Recliner or rocking chair

  • High chairs

  • Changing table

  • Booster seats

  • Choose between a bassinet and crib

  • Pack N Play

Essentially, if your baby doesn't need it to survive, and it's not going to make your life that much easier, you can go without it. This is especially true with larger items that take up lots of floor space. Smaller items are ok, though, such as a white noise machine, a Hatch, a high chair, and similar commodities.

Don't Forget to Prepare For Travel Days

Setting up and baby-proofing a travel trailer or motorhome for stationary living is one thing, but taking a baby on an RV trip is a whole other deal. Even if you aren't going on a long trip from one RV park to another, it's just as important to prepare for short trips as it is for long ones.

Traveling in One Vehicle

In general, RV travel with a newborn is much easier when you and your spouse are traveling in one vehicle, such as a motorhome or the tow vehicle of a fifth-wheel or travel trailer. That way, one of you can drive, and the other can keep an eye on your baby and tend them if they get fussy.

The main thing to remember on travel days is to have a car seat that's legal and appropriate for your baby. It's also important to choose one that's recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as this will ensure it's a sound investment.

Personally, we went with the Doona Car Seat & Stroller combination. In addition to being a reliable car seat, the Doona also saves space and hits two birds with one stone.

Traveling With a Separate Car

Traveling with a separate car is much trickier when you're traveling with a newborn, and your RV road trip will usually take substantially longer. The reason for this is because anytime your baby gets fussy, you need to pull over to take care of them.

Traveling without someone in the back seat to keep an eye on them can also be potentially dangerous. As such, you should never have anything in the car seat with them, lest your baby begins thrashing or moving around and accidentally covers their face with a blanket or burp rag.

Whether you're in one vehicle or traveling separately, it's important that the person with the baby has a diaper bag equipped with everything they need. This includes packing extra baby food, whether that be formula or breast milk, diapers, wipes, and any other essentials.

Extra Baby Prepping Tips and Tricks

In addition to everything we've looked at so far, here are a few extra tips and tricks for living the RV life with a newborn.

  • You must have baby gates at the top of the stairs if you have a fifth-wheel, and at your entry doors if you tend to leave them open

  • If you're traveling in a motorhome, make sure that your car seat is compatible with your rig and adheres to road laws

  • Plan your route and stops out even more than you normally would

  • Select baby gear that you can fold up and stow away when not in use

  • Choose quality over quantity in everything you do

  • Know where your nearest ER or urgent care is located

  • Sleep deprivation is very real with a newborn, so stop and rest as needed

Final Thoughts

RVing with a baby takes some work and imagination, but it's certainly possible. The keys are to be willing to part with certain items you currently have in your RV and replace them with baby essentials. Additionally, you'll also likely be short on storage space, so you'll need some creativity in that respect as well. However, if you're willing to baby-proof your rig and have some DIY know-how, you'll have a baby-friendly RV in no time.

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