Baby Sleep at Sea: The evolution of the baby-keeper-inner (in Charleston, SC)

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat

It’s interesting how much being a parent is about keeping your offspring contained. Cribs, carseats, baby gates, pack-n-plays, highchairs… you name it, there’s a lot of ‘keeping in’ going on.

Having a baby on a boat doesn’t seem to be any different, there are just fewer off-the-shelf solutions to choose from. So I thought I’d share how Zephyr’s little boat-bed has evolved so far (knowing that it’ll probably change again before I even finish writing this!!) with a whole bunch of sleeping-baby photos 🙂

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

Initially, Zephyr had a shelf. Quite literally. It used to be a deep sail locker, but Jon added a recessed shelf so that Z could sleep near us without being right in bed with us.

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

This was especially convenient for the middle of the night wakeups (pre-5 months).

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

I didn’t really realize how much newborns are like slugs. They move around but at a rate juuuust barely perceptible to the naked eye (and they definitely leave a trail of sludgy spit up / diapers / baby drool behind them 😉 )

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat

While this worked really well, we realized quite quickly that Jon was waking up throughout the night, afraid that he was going to roll onto the baby… so we added a little half-wall to the bed. This did the dual job of preventing Zephyr from rolling out of bed, and keeping Jon from rolling onto his son. Perfect!

This worked perfectly until about 5 months, when Zephyr started sitting up on his own and could do a slow scoot down his bed to where there was no wall.

I’d previously built a lee cloth to block off the whole vberth, so at this point we started enforcing the vberth lee cloth during all naps. This blocked off the whole bed so that even if he escaped his bed he couldn’t fall out and onto the floor.

That worked really well for another couple months. But then we left the boat for 3 weeks to visit my family for Christmas, Zephyr learned to crawl, and we were suddenly completely behind on the boatproofing front. Dang!

Our little sailboat baby loves playing with the wheel

After a couple really stressful nights where Jon woke up to a baby attempting to crawl over his face and out of the vberth (bad baby!), we hyper-prioritized a new lee cloth system.

Where will the baby sleep on the sailboat - little bed in the vberth with a half-wall

Time to dig out the ‘ole Sailrite and set up my cockpit sewing station…

Helping mommy sew lee cloths in the cockpit

Sidenote: Sewing on a boat is way less fun than sewing on your mother-in-law’s living room floor. But given that I’ve sewn a dodger, bimini, windshield, and weather cloths in the last 12 months, I’m wayyyyy more setup than I’ve ever been for project success. Oh and duraskim (patterning material) is 100% my favorite thing.

How strong are those snaps anyways? Testing the new lee cloth

This system includes some Zephyr-proof snaps (twisty ones, since the usual ones give when he throws his little body at them) and full 360 degree wall-to-wall coverage, so no little babies can crawl out in the middle of the night.

The finished vberth lee cloth for the baby's bed

Some may call it a ‘baby cage’, but I prefer baby-keeper-inner. Whatever it takes to keep the kid from falling on his noggin’, right??

The finished vberth lee cloth for the baby's bed

Even Kevin (Zephyr’s favorite little elephant) approves.

Kevin the elephant approves

Kevin the elephant approves

Here’s hoping this system lasts us a while!


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