HomeAdventureSuggestions for Taking your Toddler on the Highway – Bearfoot Concept

Suggestions for Taking your Toddler on the Highway – Bearfoot Concept


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Once I obtained pregnant in Could 2022, I had been doing van life on and off for six years. I cherished the life-style and was decided to proceed doing van life with our child after he was born. I even declared on this Instagram submit that “Children are adaptable, and I’ve the philosophy that our child will adapt to our unconventional life-style. We definitely don’t have to surrender every part we love simply because we’ve got a child in tow.”

Our little man was born in February 2023 and the day he turned 4 months previous in June, we hit the street in our 170″ Sprinter Van that I had designed to accommodate our rising household. As an alternative of packing our mountain bikes, we packed bins of diapers, child garments, and different child gear that I had learn or thought can be helpful for doing van life with a new child.

Our plan was to go all the best way as much as Tofino, a seaside city on the northwestern fringe of Vancouver Island. Possibly it was a little bit bold going to this point, however the seaside (with a gentle local weather) appeared like the right journey for having a little bit one in tow.

Issues began pretty easily, simply as that they had been at dwelling. To start with, our child was sleeping and touring okay. However then as quickly as we obtained as much as Tofino (over 1,100 miles from dwelling), identical to a lightweight swap, issues began to alter. Fixed night time wakings, problem with naps, hysteria anytime we have been driving wherever.

However I assumed infants have been adaptable, proper? The entire weblog posts I examine doing van life with a child made it appear simple and enjoyable. Was our child simply tougher than these different van life infants? Have been Ryan and I doing it improper?

After two months on the street with our child, it began to turn out to be clear that we would have liked a break from the van. Not solely was the infant comparatively sad in comparison with what he had been prior at dwelling, however I used to be delirious and almost sick from lack of sleep. After all, there have been some good instances, and we made recollections that I’ll cherish ceaselessly, however the ever-changing surroundings and shut quarters weren’t working for any of us.

Sprinter Van campground baby
We spent a whole lot of time hanging out at our campsites to make life simpler on us

Now that I’ve had a while to mirror on the expertise, I’m realizing that almost all of what I noticed on-line about van life with a child was very one-sided. The few blogs and social media posts I examine doing van life with a child solely talked in regards to the good components and led me to have an unrealistic, incomplete image of what doing van life with an toddler is absolutely like. Additionally, each child is completely different and they’re always altering so what works one week might not work the subsequent.

The excellent news is that this: as a result of infants are ever-evolving, our expertise when he was an toddler doesn’t imply that van life received’t be a great match for us as a household as soon as he’s a bit older. In truth, we’re planning to take every part we realized and take a look at once more when he’s within the toddler stage.

When you’re a van lifer (or aspiring van lifer) hoping to introduce your toddler to the wonders of van life, this weblog submit is for you. I share my story to not discourage you, however as an alternative to be sure to have life like expectations and to share the issues I’d have finished in another way if I might do it another time.

On this complete information, I’ll discover the important features of van life with a child youthful than 1 yr previous. I cowl ideas to your van’s format and sleeping preparations, the gear you want, feeding, security issues, methods to maintain your toddler entertained, and different issues to count on. By following the following pointers and recommendation, you’ll be giving your self one of the best probability of getting it’s an fulfilling expertise for your loved ones.

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Suggestions for Taking your Toddler on the Highway – Bearfoot Concept 65
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Van Conversion Suggestions for Touring with a Child

One of many first issues when embarking on van life with a child is selecting the best van and format for your loved ones’s wants. Security, area, and are essential elements to think about when deciding on a van that may accommodate your rising household.

Secure seating to your child

Ahead-facing seats

As your loved ones expands, you’ll want to make sure that your van supplies sufficient area to comfortably and safely seat everybody. The first consideration is you want a seat put in in your van that may accommodate a rear-facing toddler automobile seat. Generally, that is going to be a forward-facing captain’s chair or bench seat instantly behind the driving force and/or passenger.

Car seat in a Sprinter Van
The chair you put in your carseat on will should be ahead dealing with

Due to the rear-facing requirement to your automobile seat, toddler automobile seats can’t be safely put in on a chair that’s dealing with sideways. For instance, when you have a bench seat that faces out in direction of the van’s slider door, this isn’t a secure place for a automobile seat. Sadly, I’ve seen a whole lot of DIY vans with automobile seats dealing with sideways, and this isn’t secure!

Moreover, the seat itself that the toddler automobile seat is positioned on have to be correctly put in within the van, assembly Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration (NHTSA) necessities.

In case you are retrofitting your van so as to add extra seating to your child, you may’t simply slap a seat within the van with some bolts and name it good. To really be a secure place for the infant, the seat have to be affixed to the van’s body in a manner that meets NHTSA rules. This ensures that when you get in an accident, the chair the place your toddler automobile seat is put in can face up to the minimal forces and torques that is likely to be anticipated in a crash.

Secure seat set up

When you’re positive that the seat itself is secure for a automobile seat, it is advisable to be certain that your automobile seat is correctly put in. When you’re uncertain, you may go to a automobile seat inspection station (simply google one close to you), they usually might help you be certain that your automobile seat is securely put in.

Whereas there are a lot of several types of automobile seats, I extremely advocate an toddler automobile seat with a deal with that may simply be faraway from its base. That manner you may take the infant within the automobile seat right into a restaurant or snap it into your stroller if it’s suitable together with your automobile seat. I personally selected a carseat made by Clek, as they carry out crash testing past the conventional necessities, and since we deliberate to spend a lot time within the van, I needed the carseat with the best security rankings.

Variety of seats

One different factor to bear in mind is whether or not you need to have the ability to sit at the back of the van together with your child. Our child had gotten very used to me using subsequent to him within the backseat of our 4Runner. So as soon as we obtained within the van and he was within the backseat alone, he didn’t like that very a lot. A van can also be a lot noisier and bumpier than a automobile, which I feel contributed to his unhappiness.

Inhabit Designs custom floor mats in a Sprinter Van
We solely have one captain’s chair so the infant has to trip by himself

We arrange a automobile seat mirror so he might see us. We additionally taped images of Ryan and I to the again of the headrest. Neither of these labored to maintain him content material. Consequently, I ended up spending a whole lot of time standing up subsequent to him within the aisle whereas the van was in movement, which is clearly not a secure manner for me to trip in a van.

After all, this section will move and finally he’ll be comfy using again there by himself, however for the toddler section, this posed a severe problem.

Including one other chair again there for me to trip in is inconceivable now. If I might begin throughout with my van conversion, I’d no less than take into account placing two seatbelts within the again, though that additional limits your format choices.

Storage for child gadgets

With a child on board, you’re going to want storage for the entire small belongings you want – diapers, wipes, burp cloths, garments, toys, bottles, pump components, and so on. I designed my van with this in thoughts, and we’ve got plenty of handy cubbies and cupboards to place all of this child stuff in. Nevertheless, the extra cupboards you will have, the much less room it’s important to transfer round in your van. And with two canine, two adults, and a child, there may be a whole lot of shuffling round.

As you intend your format, you’ll have to fastidiously steadiness your want for storage with having sufficient area to maneuver comfortably all through the van.

Child proofing your van

We obtained off the street earlier than we would have liked to think about any severe babyproofing, however babyproofing in a van goes to look completely different than in a home. You doubtless have already got cupboard locks on your entire drawers and cupboards, so that you in all probability received’t want to fret about that an excessive amount of.

The largest issues to be involved about as soon as your child is crawling is the infant falling off a tall platform mattress or crawling proper out the slider door when it’s open. In case your van isn’t constructed but, you may take into account methods to deal with these points.

Man sitting in a Sprinter Van bed next to his baby eating a sandwich
When you’ve got a platform mattress and your child is beginning to crawl, it is advisable to be very cautious that they aren’t unattended in your mattress

Some individuals go for a platform mattress that’s decrease to the bottom or a dinette that converts to a mattress. In these circumstances, you’ll lose space for storing beneath your mattress. You can even put some type of gate within the doorway to forestall the infant from falling out the door. Both manner, doing van life with a child means it’s important to keep watch over them always.


Sleeping Preparations

There are a selection of van layouts that work for households with a number of youngsters, however the want for extra seatbelts will restrict your format choices. There’s no manner round it.

Once I was designing my third Sprinter Van, I wasn’t but pregnant and wasn’t positive if I used to be going to achieve success. So I added a 3rd seat and deliberate to determine a sleeping resolution later if a child did come alongside. Meaning we don’t have a everlasting mattress set-up for the infant. As an alternative, he sleeps in a journey crib that matches between the driving force’s seat and the second-row passenger chair the place the automobile seat goes.

Bugaboo Stardust Travel Crib in a Sprinter Van
That is the place our child sleeps in our Sprinter van

At night time, we first must take away the automobile seat and stash that up entrance, after which we arrange our Bugaboo Stardust journey crib. I selected this particular crib as a result of it’s one of many extra compact journey cribs and likewise could be very slim when packed away. It additionally has a bassinet conversion so the infant could be greater up within the crib when they’re little.

Whereas I like how compact it’s and the way effectively it matches in our area, the draw back is at one yr previous, it’s already fairly small for him. He doesn’t have a whole lot of room to roll over or transfer round. As soon as he turns 2, we plan to attempt the Cabbunk, which is a hammock system that goes throughout the 2 entrance seats.

In hindsight, I may need thought of a seat that folds down right into a mattress, like these discovered within the Storyteller Vans or the Scopema RIB Bench Seat. This fashion we might have set our journey crib on high whereas he was nonetheless an toddler. Then finally as soon as he’s transitioned out of a crib, he might sleep instantly on that mattress.

Both manner, our sleeping association labored okay and it doesn’t matter what you select to your child’s sleep, it’s one thing that’s going to eat area in your van that you’ll have to work round.

Listed here are some extra issues to think about in terms of your child’s sleep in your camper van:

  • Sleeping placement: Having the infant’s sleeping space proper subsequent to the slider door will not be very best. The noise of us going out and in of the van (and shutting the door) as soon as the infant was asleep was often sufficient to wake him up. That meant that after 8:00 pm, we and our canine have been typically caught contained in the van.
  • Carry a monitor: If you wish to hang around exterior at night time after the infant is asleep, I counsel you deliver a child monitor that doesn’t require wi-fi or a telephone connection. We’ve the Toddler Optics DXR-8.
  • Make it darkish: Most infants want it to be very darkish for one of the best sleep. We have been in a position to jimmy rig a setup utilizing some curtains and towels that created a darkish cave-like ambiance for his crib. That manner I used to be in a position to keep up and pump with out inflicting him to get up.
  • We additionally used a bit of cardboard to cowl up the ceiling fan the place ambient gentle was getting into the van. Whenever you’re determining the place the infant will sleep, see if you could find a strategy to partition off that space so it’s darkish and doesn’t have an effect on your skill to maneuver all through the van.
  • Use white noise: I extremely advocate bringing a small transportable white noise sound machine to dam out background noise. Be sure to get one which doesn’t want wi-fi.
  • Pack a nightlight: We introduced this transportable nightlight and it got here in very useful. I used it for my middle-of-the-night pumping periods and to have the ability to see at night time within the van with out waking him up.
Baby travel crib set up with black out curtains in a Sprinter Van
We created a makeshift system to make it darker in. ourbaby’s crib

Journey crib ideas

1. Measure the place it’s going to go

Earlier than you select a journey crib, you’ll need to measure out the area in your van the place you intend to set it up to ensure it’s going to match. As I stated, we’ve got the Bugaboo Stardust journey crib.

Other than how compact it’s, I selected this crip as a result of the underside is elevated off of the bottom. Since we set it up over our desk mount, if the mattress was flat on the bottom, there can be an enormous bump within the center. If we didn’t have the desk mount to fret about, I’d in all probability have gone with the Guava Lotus which has a attachable cowl you should purchase for making it darker.

2. Take into consideration the place you’ll retailer it

For storing your journey crib, some journey cribs fold flat, whereas others collapse-accordion model, and also you’ll want to determine a great place to place it daily whenever you’re driving. The Bugaboo Stardust shops flat, so we have been in a position to match it between the captain’s chair and the wall for simple entry.

I additionally advocate bringing an additional set of sheets in case you will have a middle-of-the-night blowout and there’s no laundromat close by.

A be aware about co-sleeping

Previous to us leaving in our van with the infant, I had gotten some recommendation for different van lifer mothers to co-sleep (that means having the infant sleep within the mattress with us). This fashion we wouldn’t must take up room within the van with the infant’s crib. Whereas I do know co-sleeping is a sizzling matter and in lots of cultures, co-sleeping is the norm. However, co-sleeping will not be beneficial by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With that stated, we did find yourself resorting to co-sleeping about one month into our street journey. His night time wakings turned so frequent that the one manner I might get him to cease crying and fall again asleep was to deliver him into our mattress with us.

Baby sleeping in a Sprinter Van. Baby's face is blocked out
We resorted to co-sleeping when our child began teething

I’ll say that I assumed I’d take pleasure in co-sleeping, however I used to be so hyper-aware of the infant’s presence and place, that my high quality of sleep was very poor. I additionally needed to sleep with out the covers on and with two adults and the infant (and generally the canine who have been accustomed to sleeping in our mattress), it was very cramped.

Finally, I did what I needed to do, however co-sleeping in a small van mattress was not a sleeping association that labored effectively for us.

Incorporating nap and bedtime routines

Sustaining constant nap and bedtime routines is essential to your child’s sleep schedule, and that is a lot tougher to do within the van than it’s at dwelling. Wake home windows are laborious to abide by when daily is completely different.

Since our child was solely 4 months previous once we first began van life, we didn’t have him on any type of a schedule but. In truth, earlier than we left, in addition to the instances he napped within the automobile, 100% of his naps have been in my lap after breastfeeding (referred to as contact napping), and he had by no means napped independently in a crib.

Whereas at 4 months previous, he was nonetheless too younger for any form of sleeping coaching, I didn’t have an understanding of correct wake home windows or what a perfect nap routine seemed like. Most of his naps within the van have been both whereas we have been driving (till he determined he hated his automobile seat) or within the provider whereas we have been on a hike.

Bearfoot Theory founder Kristen Bor on a foggy beach in Olympic National Park wearing a gold Patagonia Nano puff and holding her baby in a carrier
Our child solely napped within the provider as soon as we have been on the street

We did one of the best we might, however wanting again, I’d have waited to attempt van life with our child till he had a extra predictable 2-naps-per-day routine (or possibly even 1 nap per day).

The lesson for me was that it is advisable to plan your actions and journey round your child’s sleep schedule to make sure they get the remaining they want. That may be troublesome contemplating infants youthful than one yr previous want wherever from 2-4 hours of napping per day. When you can plan your drives round their naptime, that’s very best!

Contemplate incorporating acquainted sleep cues, similar to studying a bedtime story, turning on white noise, and making a darkish surroundings to assist your child transition into sleep mode.

Temperature management

It is strongly recommended the temperature be saved at 68-72 levels Fahrenheit for infants to securely sleep at night time. Cooler than that, and your child might be uncomfortably chilly, and warmer is alleged to enhance the danger of SIDs.

Protecting the temperature in such a good vary in your van is tougher than it’s in a house. We wouldn’t have a rooftop AC unit in our van, and there have been many nights in our van when the temperature inside was above 72 levels.

On these nights, we had each followers operating and home windows open, and I made positive that the infant was frivolously dressed. Nevertheless, I nonetheless felt fairly paranoid about it being too sizzling. Then generally in the course of the night time, the temperature would drop and it could be too chilly. It was a continuing recreation of adjusting followers and opening and shutting home windows.

When you plan to do van life with a child in the course of summer time, I counsel you intend your route fastidiously to keep away from unsafe night temperatures otherwise you’ll have to have a rooftop AC and the facility to run it. I’ll speak extra about route planning beneath.


Planning your routes

When doing van life with a child, it is advisable to put the infant’s wants first. By fastidiously planning your van life itinerary together with your child’s wants in thoughts, you may create a well-balanced and fulfilling expertise for your loved ones.

Listed here are some ideas for planning your itinerary:

  • Contemplate the climate and don’t go wherever too sizzling
  • Decrease your driving time by selecting locations which can be near dwelling
  • Plan for relaxation and stops throughout your lengthy drives
  • Drive throughout nap time
  • Select family-friendly locations

Suggestions for selecting your locations

1. Decide what sort of journey you need (and may) do

Once I was planning our summer time route in our van with our child, there have been just a few issues I took into consideration. Whereas usually we spend our summers climbing within the mountains, we might not be capable to hike the form of trails we like whereas carrying an toddler. So as an alternative we needed to go someplace mellow the place we might chill. That narrowed it right down to the seaside.

2. Take a look at the climate

Second, we would have liked to go someplace the place the temperatures wouldn’t be too excessive. Ryan and I had by no means been to Vancouver Island and with my newly granted twin Citizenship, I’ve been fascinated about spending extra time in Canada. The local weather sounded good with dozens of seashores we might discover. So we obtained our little man a passport and headed north.

Veer basecamp beach tent set up on Cox Bay in Tofino with a baby inside
Chilling out with our little man on the seaside in Tofino

3. Select someplace nearer to dwelling

In hindsight, touring so distant on our first van journey with the infant was too bold. Technically an toddler ought to solely be in a carseat two hours a day. Whereas we positively pushed the bounds of that rule on a few days, this meant that we might solely cowl a brief distance most days.

We did take pleasure in our time on Vancouver Island, but it surely took ceaselessly to get there and it additionally put us very distant from dwelling in case issues went awry….which they did.

On our drive dwelling, our poor little man had his first two enamel break via and he was so depressing. As soon as we obtained right down to Seattle and realized that driving again to Salt Lake was going to take per week on the tempo we have been going, I made a decision to fly dwelling with the infant whereas Ryan cruised dwelling with the van.

The massive lesson right here is to take a take a look at run in your van nearer to dwelling earlier than you intend an enormous journey to someplace distant. The aim of van life with a child isn’t to have some massive grand journey. As an alternative, it’s a chance to decelerate and reconnect with nature in a brand new chapter together with your toddler, and also you don’t should be tremendous removed from dwelling to try this.

Woman carrying baby strapped to her chest standing on rocky overlook out onto the ocean and beach
We traveled to Vancouver Island for our first van life street journey with our child. In hindsight, I’d have chosen a vacation spot a lot nearer to dwelling

Planning for relaxation and play stops

Make certain your itinerary contains common relaxation and play stops. Infants require frequent breaks for feeding, diaper adjustments, and playtime. Analysis relaxation areas, parks, or leisure spots alongside your route the place you may safely cease and permit your child to stretch, crawl, or play.

I saved my tenting chair useful, and we all the time tried to plan our stops someplace we had a pleasant place to take a seat exterior the place our canine might additionally stretch their legs.

Woman holding baby in campervan
Taking a break from driving so our child might be out of his automobile seat

The place to camp with a child

Whereas we want free, dispersed tenting, in some methods paid campgrounds made life with a child rather a lot simpler.

First, with a child, you will have restricted time to seek for that good campsite. If the infant has already been within the automobile seat for half the day and is beginning to get fussy, you aren’t going to drive down some unknown dust street in hopes of discovering a spot you noticed on iOverlander. Understanding you will have a assured spot at a paid campground makes this entire course of rather a lot much less anxious.

Second, getting access to water, laundry and different facilities that you just want entry to with a child additionally makes life simpler. Reasonably than having to discover a water fill station each couple of days, you may refill proper at your campground. Identical with doing laundry (often out there at personal campgrounds), because you’ll be doing that extra usually with a child, too. And let’s be sincere. Having common showers is fairly good as effectively.

Bearfoot Theory founder Kristen Bor sitting next to her Sprinter Van at a campsite holding her baby
Staying in paid campgrounds was simpler than looking for free dispersed websites with our child

Moreover the plain downsides of paid campgrounds – like nearer neighbors, leash necessities for pets, the price, and so on – when staying at a paid campground with a child, I fearful extra about bothering my neighbors when my child was crying, particularly in the course of the night time. When that occurred, I closed the home windows to attempt to insulate others from our noise, however there have been some issues I simply couldn’t management.

I counsel you combine it up. A couple of nights at free campsites adopted by an evening or two at a paid campground will help you reap the benefits of the facilities whereas nonetheless having fun with some solitude.

Slowing down and resetting expectations

Once I first began van life again in 2016, I gave up my residence, offered my automobile, removed my stuff, and moved into the van full-time. It was nice again then however not one thing I’d advocate when you have a child.

Having someplace to go when you want a break from van life together with your child is essential. In our case, it was clear that our little man wanted extra routine, and I’m so grateful we’ve got a house base that we have been in a position to come again to so we might give him a extra secure surroundings.

If having a house base isn’t attainable, then I’d advocate having some cash put aside for the occasional week at an Airbnb or planning to crash with household.

Baby lying on his tummy in bed next to dog
We obtained an Airbnb close to Whistler out of desperation on the finish of our two month journey

Feeding your child on the street

Breastfeeding

Everybody’s feeding routine will look a bit completely different. When you’ve got sufficient milk provide, breastfeeding is the simplest strategy to feed your child on the street. It doesn’t require any dishes or additional time and you are able to do it wherever with out having to arrange. I extremely advocate bringing a nursing pillow. I’ve the Luna Lullaby (much better than the favored Boppy!) and it made it a lot simpler to feed him in my tenting chair and whereas sitting within the passenger seat of our van.

Woman breastfeeding baby at campground
This nursing pillow made it a lot simpler to feed the infant at campsites

In case your child is like mine, they prefer to breastfeed whereas in a child provider. If that’s the case, it is best to deliver alongside just a few button-up shirts. This makes it a lot simpler to feed your child extra discreetly within the provider. I principally lived within the Outside Analysis Astroman shirt because it was light-weight and moisture-wicking so I didn’t get too sizzling whereas carrying the infant.

Kristen Bor and her baby sitting on the beach in Juan De Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver Island
I lived on this button up shirt as a result of it made it simpler to feed my child on the go

I additionally packed a nursing cowl so I might really feel a bit extra comfy (and he might be much less distracted) if I wanted to nurse in a restaurant or a crowded space.

One closing factor I say about breastfeeding is you could expertise extra clogs than regular whenever you first take off in your van on account of your altering routine. At dwelling, I take advantage of the Legendairy Milk Sunflower Lecithin capsules and the Wishgarden Pleased Ducts to clear up my clogs, and it really works amazingly effectively. I forgot these and the one factor I discovered on the street significantly upset my abdomen, so be sure to pack no matter it is advisable to cope with these conditions.

Pumping

Whereas we have been within the van, we did a mix of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding with pumped breast milk. Out of the entire methods you may feed a child in a camper van, I feel pumping breast milk is probably the most troublesome. I used the Pumpable Genie Superior which is a transportable pump and doesn’t should be plugged into the wall when you are utilizing it. It’s compact, very efficient, and was good for van life.

My breastfeeding journey was very difficult originally, so once we left within the van, I used to be nonetheless pumping 3 instances a day to maintain up my milk provide. Numerous mothers, myself included, produce probably the most milk in the course of the night time, so I continued to rise up for a middle-of-the-night pumping session identical to I had been earlier than we left.

Pumping in the course of the night time in a van within the pitch black if you end up making an attempt to not disturb your companion or the infant isn’t any enjoyable in any respect. It’s much more difficult when you don’t have wi-fi to assist move the time. At dwelling, after I obtained up in the course of the night time to pump, I made a snack, scrolled my telephone, and watched TV. Within the van, I sat in the dead of night, simply making an attempt to remain upright so the milk wouldn’t spill.

Pumping and bottle feeding additionally create a whole lot of dishes to cope with daily between the pump components and soiled bottles. I used the fridge hack to reduce what number of units of pump components I needed to wash every day. However nonetheless, each morning, on high of the entire different issues we needed to do to get the van and child prepared for the day, I now needed to spend half-hour washing pump components and bottles from the day earlier than.

To clean all of these items, I stuffed up a small dish bucket that was solely used for bottles and pump components with heat soapy water. I additionally had a set of bottle brushes that weren’t used for our meals dishes. After I used to be finished washing every part, I left the bucket and leftover water within the sink, and any soiled bottles that gathered all through the day might go in there to soak.

I additionally introduced a compact UV Sterilizer because it sterilizes and dries the entire components with out having to allow them to sit out on the counter all day. You must sacrifice some space for storing, however I assumed it was effectively price it so long as you will have sufficient battery energy to run the factor.

Baby bottle washing and sterilizing station set up in Sprinter Van
My bottle washing and sterilizing arrange

The opposite factor is when you plan to pump when you are within the van, you have to a secure place to retailer the milk. I didn’t really feel comfy placing my pumped milk in the identical fridge with our meals. In our meals fridge, every part is crammed in there tremendous tight, and the door is continuously opened and closed all through the day. I ended up shopping for a separate Nationwide Luna 12V fridge/freezer that we used solely for my milk (and vegan ice cream since when else have we had room for ice cream within the van).

Interior of a Sprinter Van. Photo shows a National Luna Fridge underneath a platform bed
The Luna Nationwide Fridge I used to retailer recent and frozen breastmilk

Lastly, I counsel bringing a few of these small Icepacks to maintain bottled milk chilly on hikes and outings. They’re compact and keep chilly for a very long time.

Components feeding

When you plan to make use of components, issues to consider embrace:

  • The place will you retailer the cans of components
  • How will you sterilize the water earlier than mixing it
  • How will you wash and sterilize the bottles

I like to recommend bringing nevertheless many child bottles you usually undergo in a day so that you don’t have to clean each instantly after utilizing it.

Feeding solids

Our little man wasn’t on solids but on the time of our first van journey, however since then we’ve been making all of our personal child meals. It’s definitely simpler to only purchase meals as you go, however in case you are intent on making your personal child meals like we’re, you’ll want the flexibility to steam greens and a blender or meals processor to mix every part up. You can even deliver a child meals maker if you need an all-in-one resolution.

You’ll additionally want silicon bibs which can be simple to rinse off, a straw cup, child spoons, and jars to retailer the meals in.

A transportable excessive chair can also be a necessity. We’ve this light-weight, collapsible excessive chair that may simply be saved with our camp chairs. There are additionally transportable excessive chairs that may be hooked up to picnic tables, however when you plan on dispersed tenting (the place there aren’t any picnic tables), I wouldn’t advocate this feature.


Diapers and Hygiene

Packing sufficient diaper provides

When you aren’t choosy in regards to the model of diapers and wipes you utilize, you may restock as you journey. We use Sincere Diapers and Wholesome Child Wipes, that are non-toxic merchandise, and sadly, you may actually solely purchase these on-line. To keep away from having to obtain plenty of packages on the street, we packed a 2 month provide of diapers and wipes.

Baby sleeping next to a dog in a Sprinter Van. Baby's face is blocked out
We’ve had only a few leaks and accidents with Sincere Diapers

Altering diapers

You can be altering diapers rather a lot in your van, so that you’ll need to determine an environment friendly system. When it was time for us to alter our son’s diaper, I arrange a transportable altering pad proper on our mattress, and all of my diaper-changing provides – transportable altering pad, diapers, wipes, and diaper balm – have been inside speedy attain.

Soiled diaper storage

When you plan to camp at dispersed campsites, you received’t all the time have direct entry to a dumpster. Meaning you’ll have to carry on to these smelly soiled diapers for a bit. I didn’t need to preserve them within the van, so I obtained the Overland Gear Man Spare Tire Trash Bag that hangs off the again of your van. Inside that, I put a small trash can (for construction) lined with a trash bag, and the entire soiled diapers went in there.

Overland Gear Guy Spare Tire Trash Bag on the back of a Sprinter Van
We put our soiled diapers in a trash bag inside this trash provider

Then once we discovered a dumpster, I might simply toss out your entire trash bag with diapers. This technique labored nice and prevented our small dwelling area from getting smelly.

Diaper bag

You doubtless all the time have a few backpacks in your van for climbing and different outside actions. When you don’t really feel like packing a devoted diaper bag, you may all the time simply use one in all your regular backpacks. When you do deliver a diaper bag, I don’t suppose it’s price shopping for something fancy. That is the diaper backpack I’ve, and it’s been greater than tremendous.

The bag I used most as a diaper bag was the Dakine Scorching Laps 2L hip pack. Not like a backpack, I might comfortably put on a hip pack whereas carrying the infant in a provider. This one particularly is a lot massive for diapers, a transportable altering pad, wipes, snacks for myself, and my pockets.

If we have been climbing, Ryan would additionally deliver a backpack with water and different climbing necessities that we would have liked for the day.

Back of woman wearing the DaKine hot laps fanny pack. She is standing next to a stream looking up at the mountains
I additionally used the Dakine Scorching Laps fanny pack after I was pregnant and didn’t like sporting a heavy backpack

Bathing your child

We’ve a transportable, collapsible child bathtub that we introduced alongside. You would in all probability determine one thing that takes up even much less room, like a collapsible dish bucket, however I appreciated how this bathtub propped the infant up since he couldn’t but sit up on his personal. We’d set it up on the counter, and it made it very simple to wash him.

Sprinter Van baby 3
This collapsible bathtub made it very simple to wash our little man in our van

When you don’t want an excessive amount of water for a child tub, the extra usually you bathe your child, the faster you’ll blow via your water provide. When you’re staying at paid websites with hookups otherwise you’re solely bathing your child 1-2 instances per week, this isn’t an issue. However when you’re boondocking and doing each day baths, you have to to refill your water extra continuously than you probably did pre-baby.

You’ll additionally need to pack loads of child cleaning soap or shampoo that you just like, particularly when you use a model that’s not out there in regular grocery shops.


Toys and Leisure

Protecting your child entertained and engaged throughout van life is important for his or her total happiness and well-being. Fortunately, you don’t want a whole lot of toys for an toddler, however there are some things you’ll need to deliver to maintain them stimulated.

Teething toys are important for a child, and also you’ll need to deliver quite a lot of issues the infant can chew on. I additionally advocate bringing just a few toys the infant can play with within the automobile seat whilst you’re driving.

Apart from that, just a few light-weight, compact toys which can be participating, age-appropriate, and encourage sensory exploration must be sufficient till your child is a bit older. Additionally, give attention to issues which can be okay in the event that they get a bit soiled.

Baby on bed in Sprinter Van with toys
We hung some toys from our ipad holder that he appreciated to play with

Van life is a good way to introduce your child to the wonders of the outside. Take nature walks, go to parks, and discover simpler climbing trails appropriate for a child provider or stroller.

Mom holding baby next to a river
Exploring the family-friendly actions on Vancouver Island

If driving is troublesome to your child, you may take into account placing on some baby-friendly music. We found Rockabye Child and Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star on Spotify that are lullaby renditions of everybody from Phish and Tom Petty to Snoop Canine. Our child appeared to love them, they usually have been extra enjoyable for us to take heed to than conventional lullaby music.


Child Clothes

It was so sizzling in Utah once we took off in our van that we underestimated the cold-weather clothes we would wish for the infant. We packed loads of light-weight footies which can be nice for overlaying up their pores and skin, however we didn’t deliver any heat layers for the evenings which we realized we completely wanted as soon as we obtained to the seaside. MAJOR FAIL!

I ended up discovering one fleece footie at Walmart and one other at a child retailer on Vancouver Island. We realized that in summer time, it’s very laborious to search out heat child garments even in colder locations. So the secret is to go away dwelling with quite a lot of layers.

Grandpa holding baby in a camp chair at a campground
Be sure to pack just a few heat issues even for summer time

Now I’ll preface my suggestions by sharing that we aren’t the type of people that gown our child in cute garments. We’re all about sensible clothes that’s simple to get on and off, and he often wears the identical outfit many days in a row, identical to Ryan and I do.

For summer time journey, you’re going to need light-weight, breathable clothes that provides safety from the solar since they will’t put on sunscreen but. That is what I like to recommend packing:

  • 7-10 long-sleeve zippered footies 
  • 7 onesies (or no matter your child wears to mattress below their sleep sack)
  • 2 sleep sacks
  • 3 pairs of shorts or brief sleeve onsies
  • 2 pairs of Zutano booties (one fleece and one regular)
  • 2 heat outfits that cowl their arms and ft
  • 1 solar hat
  • 1 beanie
  • 1 pair of sun shades
Dad holding baby in a baby carrier. Baby's face is blocked out
A sunhat is a should because you shouldn’t use sunscreen in your toddler

You may additionally need to pack a few swim diapers and a swim outfit. Keep in mind, although, that oceans and lakes are usually too chilly for infants, so except you intend to go to a heated pool or the coast of Florida, you in all probability don’t want swimwear.

You additionally don’t want footwear till your child is standing up and beginning to stroll which is usually 9 months on the earliest.


Outside Child Gear to Pack in Your Van

We introduced a bunch of drugs that we by no means ended up utilizing and it simply took up room in our van. The gadgets beneath are the gear we used frequently that I take into account to be important for doing van life with a child.

Stroller

We’ve a compact journey stroller (the Babyzen Yoyo) and a cumbersome all-terrain stroller with full suspension (Bumbleride Indie), and we debated which one to deliver with us. Finally we selected the all-terrain. It’s a lot extra comfy for him, has an even bigger cover for shade, and provides extra storage for carrying different child requirements throughout our excursions.

It took up a ton of room in our van storage, however we have been very proud of our resolution. We have been ready to make use of our stroller on gravel paths and campground trails which might have been very bumpy with our compact journey stroller.

Kristen Bor on the beach with a stroller and two dogs in Sooke, BC
We have been so comfortable we introduced an all-terrain stroller!

Child provider

A child provider is a should if you wish to hike and go locations that your stroller can’t. I like to recommend a provider that has each inward and outward-facing choices, in order your child grows, you may carry them in both place.

I attempted just a few completely different carriers. My favourite was the Pleased Child OG within the Tencel cloth. I discovered it to be a bit cooler than the linen and the provider itself isn’t cumbersome. I additionally just like the Pleased Child Revolution which permits the infant to be dealing with in or out. That is the one we introduced because the ahead dealing with possibility makes it extra versatile.

The Pleased Child carriers are fairly streamlined with out a whole lot of padding or additional options. In order for you one thing extra structured, I’ve additionally tried and just like the Ergo Child Breeze and the Kinderpack.

Kristen Bor standing on a rock holding a baby in a baby carrier with the view of the mountains around Whistler in the background
Our child appreciated the Pleased Child Revolution provider

Irrespective of the fabric, child carriers do get sizzling in the summertime, so that you’ll need to gown your child in light-weight, breathable clothes in order that they don’t get too sweaty. Make certain to cowl up their legs and ft in order that they don’t get sunburnt.

Child backpack

As soon as your child is a bit older, you may transition them from a provider to a backpack. This makes it a lot simpler to hike and journey together with your child.

Utah Park City hiking baby
As soon as your child is sufficiently big for a climbing backpack, it’s a recreation changer!
Deuter Kid Comfort Pro Child Carrier
Suggestions for Taking your Toddler on the Highway – Bearfoot Concept 66

Deuter Child Consolation Professional

We’ve the Deuter Child Consolation Professional (minimal age is 9 months) and our child loves using round in it. It’s comfy with adjustable, supportive straps so each Ryan and I can put on it, and it has loads of pockets to retailer water, snacks, and layers.

Bouncer

The Child Bjorn Bliss bouncer was so useful. Our child cherished bouncing in it, and it gave us someplace to securely put him if each Ryan and I have been occupied. This bouncer particularly is nice as a result of it’s mesh, so it breathes effectively, and it folds fully flat making it simple to retailer.

Baby in bouncer at campsite next to a Sprinter Van
Suggestions for Taking your Toddler on the Highway – Bearfoot Concept 67

Shade tent

As a result of infants can’t put on sunscreen, you’ll need one thing you may shortly arrange at camp that gives shade to your child. We used the Veer Basecamp. I selected this one particularly as a result of it zips up fully, so it additionally protects in opposition to mosquitoes and different bugs. It’s so fast to arrange or take down, it has a detachable UPF 50 solar/rain cowl and solely weighs 7 kilos.

We used ours at camp and likewise took it to the seaside. I did purchase the Airpad to go beneath it to offer some cushion from the bottom which made it much more comfy for the infant to put in. You would additionally simply use a yoga mat or a sleeping pad when you don’t need to purchase this.

Baby lying on stomach in a state tent set up at a campsite
Our Veer Basecamp supplies good shade and safety in opposition to mosquitos

Transportable playmat

We introduced this transportable playmat, and it match completely contained in the Veer Basecamp tent. We hung completely different toys from it to entertain the infant. It was additionally good for tummy time. It packs up actually small, so it didn’t require an excessive amount of room within the van.


Conclusion

Van life with a child is an unimaginable alternative to introduce your baby to the wonders of the outside and create lasting recollections as a household. By fastidiously contemplating your van alternative, implementing security measures, and packing the fitting gear, you may guarantee a secure and comfy expertise to your child.

Keep in mind to plan your itinerary with family-friendly locations, incorporate nap and bedtime routines, and handle each day routines and chores successfully. By staying linked with the outside group and looking for assist when wanted, you may navigate the challenges and embrace the thrill of van life with a child.

So, pack your baggage, hit the street, and embark on an unforgettable journey together with your toddler!

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Have you ever finished van life together with your child or baby? What has your expertise been? What ideas are you able to add? What questions do you continue to have? Go away a remark beneath!



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