Thursday, December 4, 2014

Our Favorite Kid and Baby Gear for the Airstream

It seems like every day we hear about some new family deciding to hit the road in their Airstream or other RV and many of them seem to be traveling with babies and toddlers, something we know a little bit about over the past few years. We thought we’d take a sec to make up a list of some of our favorite baby and kid gear that we use in the Airstream. All the links go to Amazon which will pay us a couple bucks if you see anything you like, so thanks for looking and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about how we use any of it!

phil&teds Lobster Highchair
Space is at a premium in the Airstream and a regular high chair would basically be right in the middle of our kitchen. This hook on chair keeps the floor clear and the clamping design is perfect for the Airstream dinette. Plus, unlike another one we own, the Chicco 360 Hook on High Chair, the hooking arms don’t get in the way of your knees when you’re sitting on the benches. And don’t worry, the dinette actually feels *more* secure with a little more weight on the end with the leg.

Prince Lionheart Soft Booster Seat
While our toddler is still within the weight limits of the hook on chair, she’d rather sit on a bench next to one of us. This booster seat puts her at just the right height, acts as a little bit of protection for our newly upholstered cushions and stores right under the bench when not in use. We also love the BabyBjorn Soft Bib (although it could also be called the “trough bib”) for catching milk, oatmeal and spaghetti before it can reach the cushions or floor.

Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard
This is actually a new one for us. We’d used a Graco Travel Lite Crib for our first child, but we didn’t really do any longer travel with her until she was about 15 months. That meant that with the crib up on the bed, we could lift her up over the edge and stand her up in there. In addition to better portability, the benefit of the Lotus Travel Crib is the side zip access that allows us to place her younger sister (who we started traveling with at 6 weeks) into the crib while she’s lying down on the Boppy Travel Pillow without having to reach all the way over. Plus, we feel a little better with the baby protected from the nighttime arm and leg flailing of the three year old sleeping in the same bed. As an added bonus, the Lotus looks like it’ll work great at a park or music festivals with a blanket over the top for shade.

Boppy Travel Pillow
Both of our kids slept on the travel Boppy and the regular Boppy pillow for several months. It keeps them from rolling and, if they’re in the bed with you, keeps you from rolling on them (both personal experience but *not* necessarily what it says in the manufacturer’s literature). They both work but the travel version is nice because it folds over and zips for storage or a day trip to the beach and can fit in a duffel for weekend trips away from the trailer.

Zoli Baby Baby OHM Diaper Changing Mat
We keep this perfectly-sized mat rolled up and tucked behind some hanging bars where we store diapers and wipes. When we encounter a “shituation,” it can be fipped out with one hand (always important) and deployed on the bed for a quick change. And of course, it can be easily cleaned with a wipe if there’s a mishap during a particularly intense “Code Brown” incident.

B&R Plastics EZ Foldz Step Stool
We’ve had a few of these, but this one is by far the best at preventing pinching of little fingers. The three year old can carry it from one end of the trailer to the other, either folded or open, and set it up as a chair for playing at the lounge or a stool to brush teeth or get up on the potty. And honestly, it comes in handy all the time for us to reach into a high cabinet and stores easily in a narrow slot (we’ve got a random one next to one of our wardrobes). Full disclosure, it also makes a nice seat in the shower while entertaining a toddler who’s trying to make a “boom boom.”

Bemis NextStep Child/Adult Built-in Potty Seat with Slow Close
And while we seem to be stuck on the topic, this is a great replacement for the stock Airstream toilet seat. First, have you ever tried to sit on the lid of that thing? Feels like the plastic is going to shatter. This one is a much more solid perch from which to stare at your iPhone while your child spashes around in 3 inches of water at the bottom of your Airstream shower (which works amazingly well, BTW). Then lift the lid and there’s a small built-in child seat that folds right down. And if those weren’t enough reason to buy it, let the top drop and it will glide silently back down. No matter how absent minded your toddler is, no slamming seat to shatter your nerves or wake up the baby.

Babies R Us Turtle Bath Sponge Cushion
For the babies in the bottom of the shower, we bought a sponge seat like this one although ours, made by Safety 1st, doesn’t seem to be available anymore. It’s just a nice soft surface to put the little one down on and keeps her from sliding around on the slick floor. When bathtime’s over, you can wring it out and it’ll dry quickly.

BABYBJORN Bouncer Balance Soft
Okay, this is not the cheapest bouncy seat out there but it’s got a lot going for it. First, something about the way it’s “sprung” creates just the perfect amount of response when the baby moves it, either in the reclined position while napping or one of the other two more vertical positions. This was the only place the baby would nap for months, and as a plus, we discovered that if didn’t put the stabilizers on the Airstream down, you could bounce her just by jumping a little at the other end of the trailer! We also use this constantly on top of the dinette while we’re having breakfast or cooking or on a picnic table at a campsite for a clean, comfy place to put baby. Finally, and this may even be it’s BEST feature (other than no batteries), it folds completely flat. We store ours down beside our bed or under the dinette (even fits when it’s converted to a bed).  Without the fold-flat feature, we’d be constantly moving it from place to place to keep it out of the way.

Thermos FOOGO Phases Stainless Steel Straw Bottle
If you don’t already have one, you need one. These Thermos jars will keep milk cold in the tow vehicle all day and won’t leak. We basically just top ours off every evening and keep it in the fridge ready for the next day. Of course, like with any milk container, a good washing with hot water and soap is gonna be needed on a somewhat regular basis.

BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller
Could you get by with a smaller stroller? Maybe, but the Bob is just the most maneuverable, easy to push and go-anywhere-est stroller out there. We’ve traveled with others but they can barely handle a gravel campground loop. If you run, lock the front wheel for better tracking. Same is true at the beach (though pulling it backwards also works). Plus, you can load it up with beach chairs hung from the push bar (careful of unintended wheelies from too much weight in the back!) and fill the bottom basket with as many sand toys and towels as you need. Oh, and RV’er specific? That weight limit of 70 pounds is just for kids; The Bob easily handles the 96 pounds it takes to haul two 6 gallon jugs of water back from the spigot.
Radio Flyer All-Terrain Stroll 'N Trike Ride On
And for the toddler who doesn’t wanna ride in the stroller anymore, this trike with cushy air-filled wheels (the first one we got had solid plastic and chattered like mad) is a great way to keep things moving around town or down the nature trail. The key feature is that you can steer it from the push bar to avoid any unplanned powerslides. Also, if they stop pedaling, the foot rests “free-wheel” rather than spinning around and bashing your kid’s shins. This model can either be stripped down of all the sun shades and activity trays or your can design your own from scratch on the Radio Flyer web site.