When you leave the house with your baby, your diaper bag becomes a lifeline: a change station, a snack bar, a locker, a closet, a trash can, a shopping cart. It’s your portable nursery, and it’s important to stash everything you might ever need when out with your little one, because the one thing you don’t put in there is the one thing you’re going to need. And you know you’re going to need the essentials like diapers, wipes, creams, maybe a bottle or a sippy cup, and definitely an extra onesie.
But there are a few other things that you may not have considered packing in your diaper bag even though they will prove to be lifesavers when you need them. So consider these items insurance for a great trip anywhere with your baby, and ten more ways you can strengthen that lifeline when you are out and about.
Babies have an uncanny ability to wait until you are away from a house, change table, bathtub and washing machine to let rip the biggest, baddest poop explosion you’ve ever encountered. You were smart enough to bring a change of outfit, but since you can’t really pack a HazMat suit, you’re going to need somewhere to put the soiled goods. And it needs to be able to be sealed. Securely.
Not to sound like a commercial, but your baby doesn’t care if you don’t feel good while you are out. Nor will she stop screaming, if she is so inclined to do so. It is also frowned upon to lay down on a park bench and take a nap because you feel a headache coming on. So just make life a little simpler and pack a small bottle of painkillers. You’re welcome.
Sometimes—sometimes!—babies fall blissfully asleep while you are out and about, and you may find yourself with a bit of time to spend quietly. Don’t squander it on Candy Crush. (Also, don’t use up your phone battery – see #10.) Use those precious moments to catch up on a book or magazine.
*Bonus: you are less likely to fall asleep while reading in the middle of the day, so take full advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a book while the sun is shining.
Oh, you probably have enough food in your bag (or your bra) for your little one to last days, but don’t underestimate the misery of being without a snack for yourself while you are hungry and on the go. Make it healthy, make it quick, make it yummy—just make it available.
True story: we once had to wrap my diaperless infant in my husband’s sweatshirt for an entire evening because we were far from home and had completely underestimated how much a) she would pee and b) how trashed her clothes would get. Oh, and this was our second kid. We should have known (way) better. Learn from our mistakes, and pack another sleeper.
If your kid doesn’t poop on you, you will spill your coffee. If you don’t spill you coffee, you will get caught in the rain. If it doesn’t rain, your kid will barf on you. See where I’m going with this? Grab another t-shirt before you leave the house.
You’ve already eaten your snacks and you are still hangry. Or maybe a miracle has occurred and your babe is asleep, but it’s too cold to just sit outside. Do yourself a favor and pack an extra few bucks, or even better, keep a gift card to a local coffee shop locked, loaded, and ready to go when you need a coffee, and/or the shop it is in.
A receiving blanket is the workhorse of the baby-gear world. No matter how old your child is, it is useful: a mat to sit on, a nursing cover-up, a sun-blocker, a towel, a wrap for dirty clothes (if you didn’t follow my instructions in #1), a shawl if you are freezing, an emergency wipe for dirty bums, and yes—even a blanket if the weather suddenly turns. And it takes up virtually no space, so why not pack two?
Go ahead and pack an entire little first-aid kit in your diaper bag if you want, but you’ll probably only ever pull out the bandaids. Bandaids are little miracles. They make everything better, from an imaginary boo-boo that you can’t see but your child insists exists, to the blisters you’ll get from going for a walk in those new flats that were way cuter than they were comfortable.
It is entirely possible that your phone will run out of juice while you are away from home and really need to call someone for back-up, a lift, or just an important update. And even though public phone booths are few and far-between these days, that’s not the problem. Relying on the kindness of a stranger or a store clerk to lend you their cell won’t be the problem, either. The problem will be that you have absolutely no idea what anybody’s phone number is anymore, and are even less likely to remember if you are already stressed out.