Editor Note: Emily Helgeson is our newest guest blogger who has just started a family with her husband and is adapting her RV Lifestyle for this special time in their lives.

My husband and I live in Eastern Washington outside of town. We’ve been married for 8 years and love to go on what I call adventures. This may be anything from hiking, a bike ride, paddle boating or snow shoeing. Though we’ve had many great adventures so far, we recently experienced our greatest adventure yet - parenthood. This spring we welcomed our little baby boy in to the world and we couldn’t love him more.

We love his snuggles, smiles and giggles, but early on we found our biggest challenge in caring for this little guy would be getting him to sleep. Though he slept well for the most part once he fell asleep, it was getting him to fall asleep that was the problem. On top of that, he was on a schedule of needing to sleep within two hours of his last nap. We tried to take him on outings with us but since he was not one to sleep well when we were out and about, we soon started limiting our outings significantly in order to be at home more for his frequent need for naps and early bed time. Some days the only time we would get outside would be for a 15-minute walk with him in the stroller.

Things were going well for our baby as he was getting better rest, but we were soon feeling housebound. We longed to go on adventures, but feared the repercussions of an overtired baby at the end of an outing. Feeling torn between meeting our own desires and meeting the needs of our baby, we began discussing what could be done to meet all our needs. It would be so much easier if we could just bring his nursery with us. We couldn’t do that, but…and this began our discussion of getting an RV.

We always knew we would like to get an RV someday, but with our current challenges this soon got bumped up to the top of our priority list. This began our search. We wanted something big enough to allow our family to grow and to have enough sleeping options to bring extra family and friends along on our trips. We wanted a full bath so we could take showers and we needed something used to meet our budget with a new baby. Our search was over when we purchased a 27-foot travel trailer bunk house with a full bath and sleeping for 8. It felt so spacious and yet was short enough that towing wasn’t much of an adjustment. As we drove our new trailer home, we began planning new adventures we wanted to take with our little family of three. We were so excited to take it out on our first trip but before we did that, we had to go back to the reason we bought the trailer- to travel and allow our baby to sleep on the go. To do this we considered four essentials for meeting his sleep needs in a trailer: Location, Light, Temperature, and Monitoring.

Location:

First up was location. Initially we planned to collapse the dinette and set up the pack n’ play in its place but we quickly realized that since this was right in the middle of the trailer, my husband and I would not be able to freely use the trailer while he slept. There was no other space to set up a pack n’ play so we went to plan B- the bunk bed! We turned the bottom bunk bed in to a makeshift crib by placing a baby gate with a swinging door over the opening. The door allowed for easy access for night time feedings and bringing our son in and out of bed. It also provided enough of an opening for us to place a changing mat on the end of the bed and change his diaper without having to leave the area. For night time feedings, I sat down right outside of the bunk bed to keep from moving around in the trailer and chancing to wake him up. It would also be easy to simply set up a stool or folding chair outside of the bunk bed for added comfort. This worked great for us and our son. We loved that this was something easy that we didn’t have to take up and down for every nap or bed time and it could be permanently left in our trailer between uses.

Lighting:

Our second concern was lighting. Our son has always been very interested in lights. He loves to stare up at the ceiling lights or out the window and if it’s bright in his room he has no interest in sleeping. The RV manufacturers are great about creating optimal lighting with lots of windows and with sky lights, but we had to find a way to cut down on the lighting if we wanted our son to go to sleep without as much of a fight. Though there was a curtain over the windows in each bunk bed we needed something darker and thicker to block out more of the light. We cut some fabric to fit the space as a simple “black out curtain”. In the opening of the bunk bed we tucked another dark piece of fabric under the mattress of the top bunk bed and placed this on the other side of the baby gate enclosure. To provide a dark environment for feedings and soothing him to sleep, we set up a tension rod on the top of the ceiling with a long dark blanket to provide enough space for us to stand and move around as we prepared our son for bed. With all these measures in place we had a nice dark space that allowed us to move around easily to tend to our son’s needs.

Temperature Control:

Next up was dealing with temperature control. Baby books today outline a relatively small temperature range that you should keep your baby in to reduce the chance of SIDs. Though there is room for debate in this statement, my husband and I didn’t want to take any chances. Our trailer’s thermostat could quickly address the issue of cold temperatures or excessive heat, but often times we camp somewhere without hook ups. To regulate the temperature in these circumstances we have two go-to options. First, we plug in a power inverter that allows us to position a small fan in our son’s sleeping area. If additional cooling or heating is needed, we have a generator set up that allows us to operate the thermostat. Using these two methods gives us peace of mind that our son can sleep in a safe and comfortable environment.

Monitoring:

Our last issue to address was monitoring. In order to continue our camping experience without being interrupted for the full duration of each nap a baby monitor was a must. While the baby unit monitor requires power or the use of a power inverter, we can bring the battery-operated parent unit monitor with us so we can enjoy activities nearby while our little one sleeps. The quality and range of even inexpensive monitors is quite impressive. We love getting to sit out by the campfire, play in the nearby river or play games all while our baby is sleeping safe and sound.

Since owning an RV, my husband and I keep saying how thankful we are for this incredible blessing. We love getting to add more adventure back into our lives as parents while ensuring our little one gets the rest he needs. Since we’ve given him an environment that promotes quality rest away from home, our son can wake up energetic and ready to join in on the adventure with us. We’re so grateful that our trailer can function as a nursery on wheels.

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