Top 4 Must-Haves for RV Life with a Toddler

This should go without saying, but RV life with a toddler is a lot different than it would be without one! We’ve managed to find some “hacks” and ways around difficult situations while in the RV. I got to thinking about things that we use every day for Calla in the RV, and so I present to you…our Top 5 “must have” list for RV-ing with a toddler!

Protection for the Stairs

Want an instant shot of adrenaline? Just put your young child near a set of stairs. When we set out on our RV lifestyle in August 2017, Calla wasn’t walking, but she sure was crawling. Before we left, we knew that protecting her from Trudy’s interior stairs would be a priority. Tim built a cover that sits right inside the stairwell, so it completely blocks access to the stairs. It’s pretty sturdy, and Calla can (and does) stand on it, but I wouldn’t trust it to hold an adult.

We also have to make sure Trudy’s deadbolt is locked any time we are inside and using the stair cover because Calla doesn’t understand to not put her weight against the door, and it could easily come open unless it is dead-bolted. This means that if one of us is outside, and the other one wants to come inside, we have to knock every time, and the person inside has to undo the deadbolt, remove the stair cover, and then replace it once the other person is inside. It’s a pain in the butt, but a necessary one as it alleviates our worry that she will fall down the stairs. I hope that once she gets a little older she can understand to stay away from the stairs completely, but we have tried, and there are buttons in the stairwell, and we know how irresistible buttons are to a toddler.

Motorhome Stairs
Trudy’s steps as seen from the inside. Even with the door closed, the 3 stairs are deep and you wouldn’t want your child falling down them!

 

Motorhome Steps
The stairs covered up with the cover Tim made

 

Here I am lifting up the cover. See my hand in the lower-right corner? We added handles to it to make it easier to lift up (and so we wouldn’t keep getting confused on which direction it needs to face – it only fits one way)
Calla sitting on the bench seat with stair cover below. Imagine the heart attack we’d be having if the stair cover wasn’t there!

 

Tablet and Tablet Mount

On travel days, we use videos to entertain Calla and we aren’t sorry about it. They preserve our sanity and hers too. Our tablet (just one we’d had laying around for a few years) recently bit the dust after a rough time in airport security, and we really need another one! We are probably going to buy a Kindle Fire for Kids tablet as soon as we can get a package. Being without our tablet has made us realize just how valuable it is in our travels.

A tablet isn’t much good in the hands of a toddler (we learned this the hard way) because they press the screen constantly and turn off the videos. Tablet mount to the rescue! Trust me, you need one of these. It attaches to the headrest of the car, so it holds the tablet above her (she can’t touch the screen) but it’s at a good viewing angle for her since she’s rear facing. The one I linked to is the one we have, and we haven’t had any problems with it.

Tablet mount without tablet

 

Tablet mount with tablet (RIP)

Bathtub

Most RVs come with showers, not bathtubs. They do make some that have small bathtubs, which would actually be great for a toddler. Alas, Trudy was manufactured before those were ever a thing, so she has a standard shower. We wondered how we would give Calla a bath while living in the motorhome, but before we left I did some research and saw other people using large buckets. Luckily I found one and it’s been working fine! We sit the bucket in the bathtub to contain the splashes and spills. I know she’d prefer a larger bathtub, but this works for now, and most nights she enjoys splashing in there with her boats.

bathtub motorhome
Our bathtub setup. Quite simple!

White Noise Machine

We love our Dohm white noise machines. So much, in fact, that we owned two of them before we left in the RV, and we brought them both with us. Boy, am I glad we did! We use these every day. All 3 of us are very light sleepers. The white noise from the Dohm is actually loud enough to drown out most things. It’s basically a fan inside a box, so it’s not a recording.

The walls of an RV are very thin. If your neighbor shuts their car door, you will hear it. If the wind blows more than 5mph, you’ll hear that, too. If someone’s dog barks while Calla is napping, we don’t have to cringe and hold our breath, because the Dohm is in there doing it’s thing! I’ve been known to put the other Dohm right next to my head, on the mattress, in the middle of the night if noise is waking me up. I love that thing, and when we don’t have an electric hookup, it is sorely missed!

Dohm white noise machine
The Dohm, bedside

There you have it – our top 4 must-haves for RV life with a toddler. Why not 5, you ask? 5 is a much more “typical” number for lists, but if you want the honest truth, I couldn’t come up with a fifth. So 4 it is! I hope this was helpful for you if you’re considering RV life with young children.

 

Edited: I thought more about this. If I added a fifth, it would be a good stroller that can handle rough terrain. We love our Bob jogging stroller.

2 Comments

  1. I had a white noise machine that was plug in or batteries. Unfortunately I loaned it to somebody a few years ago and never got it back. Worked well either plugged in or on batteries. (Your blog is quite interesting and informative.)

    1. Thanks for reading, Brooks! A battery powered one would be perfect for us! They are handy machines when you’re sensitive to noise.

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