Family road trip in Europe: Baby growth

The babies move faster than you can imagine, so we’ve had to keep making adjustments to our camper van for our little Houdinis!” In Part 6, road trip parents Juli and Christian tell us about adapting camper van life as the babies develop.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – Two happy twins stand by the safety net for their crib.
The safety net was a wise investment with two little Houdinis in the camper van!
Photo: Christan Göran
The story so far: After a difficult and uncertain pregnancy, Juli and Christian wanted to spend as much time as possible with their Supermagicalunicorntwins. So they swapped their apartment in Berlin for a camper van and set off on a road trip lasting several months.
They started in Germany and have slowly but surely driven through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Now they’re back in Germany for a winter layover. Read previous parts here.
Wonder why they’re called Supermagicalunicorntwins? Read the info box at the end of the article to find out.

They’re nine months old and turbo-charged

When we started our trip, the Smuts were 6½ months old. They’d already started holding up their heads when we put them on their fronts, so we stuck to our 15 minutes of tummy time routine on the road as well. When they were seven to eight months, we watched as the Smuts started rolling onto their tummies, slowly getting up on all fours, sitting confidently and finally crawling. Now they’re nine months old, they’re turbo-charged, and have started commando crawling across their bed and the blanket.

Hello bumps and bruises!

They love crawling over things and us a lot. And they’re quite fast, so we have to watch them like hawks. They’re pulling themselves up, holding on to the windows, us and the baby net that we installed on the upper bed. Sometimes letting go momentarily and standing without support for a few seconds and finding it difficult to sit down again, so we have to be prepared to help. Hello bumps and bruises! We comfort them with kisses and cuddles to stop any tears and they’re soon off again.

The safety net was a wise investment with two little Houdinis in the camper van!
Hey Dad, let me play too!
Photo: Christan Göran

Indoor and outdoor play on their level

Inside the camper van, as well as outside in nature, we play with them on their level, creating obstacle courses and encouraging their first attempts at walking. Our endless fun game of hiding something under the blanket and then letting it reappear has lost its magic for them – by now they know that things still exist, even if they can’t see them anymore.

At this point, they developed stranger anxiety. Sometimes they become clingy and anxious around people, and may cry if anyone but us comes too close. But they also give broad smiles to people and flirt when they feel safe. We have started to encourage a bit of socializing whenever we meet new people along the way.

The van is under non-stop baby-proofing.

The babies are into everything, so the van is under non-stop baby-proofing. At the beginning of our journey, we only needed one of the nursing pillows to make sure they wouldn’t roll down. We made the upper bed baby safe by clipping on a board as soon as they started getting up on all fours.

When they started pulling themselves up by holding on to everything, the board didn’t seem safe enough anymore. So we installed a high baby net. In addition to that, we had to cover sharp edges on the windows etc., the same as you would in an apartment. The inside walls of the bus are very soft though, so it’s not a big deal if they bump their heads in the ‘nursery’.

But time flies faster than you can imagine, and soon babies move faster than you can imagine, so we’ve had to keep making adjustments to our camper van for our little Houdinis!

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – In the sunshine, the Smuts spend quality time with their dad on a blanket on the grass.
Time flies and the twins can now stand unaided for short periods.
Photo: Christan Göran

We count and name everything we see

The babies started repeating a lot of new sounds, like blowing raspberries all day long. No matter how silly we might feel, we keep up a running commentary on everything we’re doing with them to encourage their talking. Like counting trees as we hike, showing them leaves, flowers and berries, making animal voices and pointing at every animal we see.

We name everything we see around us and repeat their babbling, such as “dei”, “ma”, “ga”, or others over and over. That’s the good thing about being outdoors in nature – you stop feeling silly when there’s nobody around to hear you ;) Especially Christian, who has rediscovered his inner child as our babies laugh hysterically when he pulls funny faces or makes funny sounds.

It’s so nice to take your kid in your arms and step outside into nature

The babies are fascinated by touching different textures – scrunching up paper, running their hands along blades of grass and leaves, as well as over the different materials in the van. We collected some items of different textures – different bits of trees, like pine cones and twigs, which Christian smoothed down with sand paper – and encouraged them to feel each one in turn, which they explored curiously and for an amazingly long time.

It’s so nice to just take your kid in your arms and step outside into nature. Walking around together, showing them leaves and flowers, letting them touch them and smell them.

In the next and final part about our road trip family, we hear all about the twins’ sleep routines. Don’t miss it!
Photo: Christian Göran

Follow Supermagicalunicorntwins on Instagram

Follow Juli and Christian and their twin daughters Lovisa and Matilda on their road trip: @supermagicalunicorntwins and @christiangoran

Why “Supermagicalunicorntwins”?

These are Juli’s and Christian’s words:

“Early in the pregnancy, in week 12, we got devastating news from our doctor. Our twins were suffering from TTTS (Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome). In short, this means that blood from the placenta does not get evenly distributed between the twins. Depending on how TTTS develops during pregnancy, the babies might die inside the uterus or survive with a high risk of fetal damage.

In week 18 we got the next shocking news. One of the babies had a lung cyst which shifted her heart to the left. Every week during the pregnancy, we went to the hospital to check up on both TTTS and the development of the lung cyst. This was a tough and scary period with lots of worrying, but we did our best to stay positive and keep our spirits up.

Family and friends supported us during these difficult times. One day, a close friend of ours told us that she was convinced our babies were super magical unicorn twins and started to sing about them. We burst out laughing, and it felt so wonderfully liberating! We’ll never forget that joyful and reassuring moment.

This short jingle stayed with us through the rest of the pregnancy, and helped us stay positive and believe that everything would turn out right. And it did.

That’s why we call our daughters the Supermagicalunicorntwins or Smuts. To us they really are our Super magical unicorn baby twins.”