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Vanlife for new parents: Baby proof campervan journeys

Vanlife can be great for new parents

If there’s one thing you’ve heard countless times as a new parent, it’s that life is going to change drastically.

Vanlife for new parents vansage
Image courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

This is true, but if you’re a campervan family always seeking out the next adventure, you don’t have to give it up.

A campervan is a budget-friendly mode of travel (no hotels, remember?), and can quickly convert into a traveling nursery.

Plus, your little one might rest more soundly while being lulled to sleep by those passing miles. So, if you’re living the vanlife and have recently become a new parent, read on for tips on how to combine them while living on that new parent budget.

Make Sure You Are Adequately Insured

Now that the little one is here, your thoughts are often fixed on the precious cargo you’re carrying.

You might be trying to stick to a tight budget, but there are some expenses that pay for themselves.

An accident is something no parent wants to think about, but you need to make sure damage and medical expenses will be covered should the unthinkable happen.

Even a minor fender-bender or scrape can cost you a fortune, so perhaps now is a good time to think about expanding to full coverage as opposed to just liability.

It costs more but pays for itself since it includes comprehensive and collision for the campervan.

It takes some digging, but shop around to compare rates so you can find a policy that fits with your budget.

And while you’re at it, consider roadside assistance insurance so you’ll be able to get tow if needed.

While you’re on the topic of insurance, look into life insurance so that your little one and any future little ones are taken care of should the unthinkable happen to you or your partner.

Campervan Car Seat Options

grow and go car seat vanlife for new parents vansage
Click to see pricing and details on the Safety 1st Grow and Go Car Seat

While a campervan is essentially a traveling home, your little one still needs to be in a car seat for maximum safety while the van is on the road.

Until age 2, your child should be in a rear-facing car seat, at which point they graduate to a forward-facing car seat from age 2 to 7.

Booster seats are the next step at age 8, until about age 12 (depending on height) when the campervan’s seat belts fit in the correct manner.

Read up on the RV car seat laws in the areas you travel to avoid hefty fines.

Car seats should be installed in a forward-facing seat approved for automobiles, with a safety rated seat belt.

Front seat, side-facing seat, swivel seat, or behind tables/counters are not allowed.

If you don’t have such a seat in your camper van that meets the requirements, you might need to make seating alterations or upgrade to a larger van before hitting the road after baby is born.

Minimize All Distractions

There are all sorts of distractions you’ll encounter on the road and some of them are so common in our driving experience, we don’t even realize they’re a danger.

But now you’re carrying extra-precious cargo, so it’s important to be as detailed about distractions as you are about every other aspect of parenting.

Here’s a partial list of common distractions:

  • Phone
  • Music
  • Navigation
  • Children
  • Partner, passengers
  • Pets
  • Heavy traffic
  • Weather
  • Food, snacks, drinks

Your phone serves many purposes, but it’s also a huge distraction. According to the US Federal Communications Commission, as many as 481,000 people use their cell phones while driving.

As a result, each day there are 9 fatalities and 1,000 injuries as a direct result of phone distracted driving.

If you’re like most campervan drivers and use your phone as a GPS, gas station/food finder, or music player, go hands-free by using a Bluetooth headset and a car phone mount.

Better yet, enlist your partner to navigate, DJ, find food…

The driver should be doing one thing, and one thing only: Driving.

Another huge distraction in the van is your little one, and for good reason — you want to make sure he/she is content and safe.

Instead of installing a mirror that makes it tempting to watch your child, eliminate all potential safety/choking hazards while you’re behind the wheel, including bottles, toys, and blankets.

Keep your little one happy and fuss-free with a window sunshade or a noggle (A/C extender) so that you aren’t constantly turning around.

Stick to a Maintenance Schedule

While you’re busy sticking to a feeding, napping, and sleep schedule for the baby, don’t forget about your campervan maintenance schedule.

Checking your tires, vehicle lights, and the battery is free and can save you a costly fix down the road by catching a problem before it escalates.

Make Sure Vanlife is Suitable for Baby

Baby proofing your campervan is an absolute must for your child’s safety and your peace of mind, and it doesn’t cost a lot to do either.

Inexpensive products such as outlet plugs, drawer catches, and corner guards can be installed in seconds.

In addition to any items that can be easily pulled down, ensure that all cleaning products remain out of reach.

The screen door of your van is an easy escape route for little ones as well and can result in a hard fall down the stairs.

Secure the door with a simple hook and latch, or have a motion detector installed if a hook/latch combo isn’t an option due to your campervan’s design.

Living the vanlife with a baby on board is a different experience, but it’s also an exciting one.

Always put safety first no matter what. Ultimately, a successful family campervan experience is about doing what feels right to you, so hold on and enjoy the ride!

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