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Prepping for Baby: Lessons from a Travel Trailer

The amount of baby things on the market now is staggering!  I look at the must have lists that stores recommend having before the baby arrives.  I can’t believe some of the stuff that they say is a necessity!  My family lived in a travel trailer for a good portion of my baby’s first year of life.  I really had to pare down and use only the things that I really needed.  I didn’t have room for a baby swing or even a pack n’ play!  All moms have their favorite baby items.  Some of these things really help make our lives easier.  But this is my list of absolute must haves, things that I used regularly and wouldn’t have been without (even in our little travel trailer).  Some of this information may be also be helpful for those of you who are putting together bug out bags for your little ones.

  1. Carseat: This is a given.  You have to have this.  A lot of hospitals will even check that it is installed correctly before you leave.  I used a Graco SnugRide.  It is reviewed over and over again as the best in its price range.  I didn’t worry about getting an infant carseat that would accommodate a bigger baby.  You probably are not going to be keeping your baby in the seat to haul around when they are beyond 22 pounds!  Kaleb was in a convertible carseat (rearfacing) before he turned one year old.
  2. familySling:  I never used a stroller.  Whenever I took Kaleb anywhere, he was in the sling.  I used a Moby Wrap.  A helpful lady at a baby store showed me how to use it and I could do it after one demonstration.  It looks complicated, but it isn’t.  Find a sling that you love.  There are lots of options.  Don’t get tied down to a stroller.  They are heavy and cumbersome and take up a lot of room in your vehicle.  Plus they can’t go on all terrains.  The sling can go wherever you go.  When wearing a Moby, you can also carry a backpack if you need to.  This is a picture of our family on a hike when Kaleb was around 5 months old.
  3. Boppy (or other nursing pillow): I used this until the day Kaleb weaned himself.  Neither of us were comfortable without it.  I didn’t have a special chair.  I always sat on the built-in couch in our travel trailer.  I also had a stool for my feet.  The right height is important!  I rocked Kaleb by swaying my knees back and forth with him nursing on the pillow.
  4. playing-in-trailerCrib, Waterproof Crib Pad, and Crib Sheet: This is really all baby needs for their bed if you choose not to co-sleep.  All of the pretty comforters and bedding sets are just for looks.  Baby does not need them.  On the contrary, they can be dangerous and lead to suffocation.  Your baby does not need anything in his/her bed.  If you want the pretty quilt, hang it on the wall where you can enjoy it.  I have a very pretty quilt that my friend’s mom made me.  As soon as Kaleb stops pulling on things when he should be napping, it will go on the wall above his bed!  The picture at the right is of my boys playing on Joshua’s bed in our trailer.  This bed is designed to convert into a dinette with two bench seats on either side.  Behind baby Kaleb you can see the wall of his bed.  I took out the inside of one bench and put the cushion for the seat down inside (for the mattress).  My dad finished it for me by closing it in with boards that had been drilled with large holes.  This was Kaleb’s bed until he was 11 months old.
  5. SleepSacks:  These blankets are genius.  I have used them with both of my kids.  Baby cannot wriggle out of them, so they stay on all night.  You don’t have to worry about your little one kicking off blankets and getting cold.  Or worse, wrapping them around their head and not being able to breathe!  This happened to Joshua once.  He was fine, but I never put any other blankets in bed with him after that!  If you sew, sleepsacks are easy to make yourself.  I made all of mine for my kids.  However, keeping baby warm off grid in the middle of winter, requires a lot more layers.  I used a couple baby snowsuits inside each other and wrapped in more blankets if I needed to.
  6. Diapers and Wipes:  I have used everything!  If you are truly prepping for any kind of disaster situation, cloth diapers are the way to go.  If you want to know my opinion about the best diapers for an off-grid situation, see “Prepping for Baby: Diapers“.
  7. prepping-baby2Nasal Aspirator:  The best one to use is what they give you at the hospital.  I have used many types and this one works the best.  If you don’t have this one, find a hospital grade one for sale on ebay.  You will notice that I don’t have over the counter medicines on this list.  My go to “medicine” for colds and flu is always Colloidal Silver.
  8. Nail Clippers: I use these regularly since my little guy’s nails grow pretty fast.  I’m not picky about brands.  The one in the picture is by Safety First.  I do like it because it is easier to hold on to than some of the others.
  9. Baby Comb: I think the finer teeth the better.  Both of my boys have had cradle cap.  A little coconut oil and a fine tooth baby comb works well for this.
  10. Diaper Cream (ointment):  There are so many choices!  These are my favorite ones: Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Skin Ointment, Aloe Youth-Derm Cream, and our own Healing Salve.
  11. Soap:  Your baby’s brand new skin is so sensitive.  Use the most natural soap you can!  I like Dr. Bronners Pure-Castile Soap Baby-Mild or Trader Joes Oatmeal and Honey Soap.  Trader Joes is definitely the best buy, but many of us do not have one near us (including me, but a friend sent some recently).  Another good option is to find a natural soap maker near you or online.  Recently, I found this website: Acorn Hill Naturals.  Their soaps are beautiful!  They even have one especially for babies! I really don’t think that a baby needs lotion.  You may like the way lotions smell, but often they are doing more harm than good when they dry out your baby’s skin.  These lotions are full of chemical fragrances which can be very irritating to skin.  Try a nice natural soap, you might love the natural fragrance.  Also, keep in mind that babies do not need baths regularly when they are brand new.  I would say every two weeks is fine, perhaps in the summer more often.  I often just got a washcloth wet with warm water and wiped Kaleb off.  His skin was always so healthy and I never used anything except castile soap every now and then.
  12. Waterproof Changing Pads:  I never had a changing table.  I always used the bed.  When Kaleb was really little and accidents were possible, I laid him on a waterproof pad on top of the bed.  I kept diapers, baby wipes, and diaper cream on a shelf next to the bed.  Now that we are in our home, they are on top of the dresser.  A changing table is nice, but it is not necessary.
  13. Nursing Pads and Nursing Bra: I loved the pads by Lansinoh!  They are the best in my opinion.  I never used the adhesive to attach to my bra, but just put them in and they stayed put.  I usually only had to use two a day.  I tried the washable pads, but leaked right through.  If I was to do it over again, I would make my own using cotton or linen and line them with PUL (what they use to make diaper covers) to make them leak proof.  Another note about breastfeeding.  If you nurse your baby, you don’t need bottles.  I know moms who have had an overabundant milk supply and a pump was necessary.  Everyone’s needs are different.  In my case, I never pumped and I never used a bottle, but I also never left Kaleb with anyone long enough to need feeding.  This can be difficult because there is no time away.  But if you are prepping for a baby, keeping a disaster situation in mind, bottles are not needed.  You also don’t need all the creams that are recommended for soreness when the baby is brand new.  Expressed breast milk does wonders!  It works better than any cream I ever tried!
  14. Washcloths instead of Burp Cloths:  A regular washcloth is so much more absorbent that any burp cloth.  You can stock up on these at a dollar store.  Even better, you probably already have washcloths laying around that you are not using.
  15. Clothing: Babies need clothes.  And everybody wants to give new clothes to a new baby.  Before my boys could move around on their own, the clothes that they wore consisted of onesies in the summer and footed sleepers in the winter.  I loved the footed sleepers with zippers.  They make diaper changes so much quicker.  I had some cute outfits, but these were saved for going out.

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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5 comments

  1. That pretty much sums it up. Babies don’t need much. I do love my bouncer when they are tiny so I don’t have to carry them all the time when I am doing inside housework. Strollers are nice for outings & to carry things, but are a pain if not on a smooth surface. Thanks for laying out the true necessities. I’m loving your articles. You are answering so many questions that I’ve had!

  2. I always used cloth diapers for burb cloths! The were the best!

  3. Jaimie,
    Thank you. Great article! You are so right about not needing all that stuff for a baby. My “baby” just turned 6 and our oldest is 26. When our older children were born, we didn’t have money for many baby things, just the basics and we were fine. By the time our younger ones came along, we could afford all the gadgets but chose not to buy them…they are really not needed. One thing I used with all of mine was a sling/baby carrier. I was able to wear my babies and get things done; they were happy and so was I. I didn’t have a Boppy until my 4th child and I don’t know how I managed to nurse without one, it helps so much.

  4. I’m amazed at how much stuff these companies, come out with. I had my daughter in 2000, my son 2004, and was amazed at how much had come out in four years between. I loved my boppy too my Mother in law, found a pattern and made each of the kids their own. I had one stroller that I used with both children, and a front pack so dad, could carry them. It’s just the all mighty dollar, that keeps the world going around.

  5. I used to use nasal aspirators, but now I use a nose frieda. It is a game changer!

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