I’m totally that girl that’s always prepared for just about anything. This started before I had kids, but it really comes in handy now when I’m on-the-go with a toddler and a baby. Even though being out and about is rare these days, it’s still good to stay prepared by having the diaper bag packed and ready to go with all the essentials.
When we just had Lily, it was easy to pack up everything in the diaper bag, because it was all just for her. And then there was that grace period between the two girls when I was just grabbing a diaper for Lily when we’d run out the door. Oh, I remember those days with a little envy for that woman.
But now, we’re back to having to pack a whole bag of essentials that we can easily grab when we do need to get out of the house. It’s just nice to know it’s ready to roll when we are, so I try to have it packed up and organized to make it easy to grab when we’re running late. Which, let’s face it, is every single time we leave the house.
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Not surprisingly, we stock the diaper bag with diapers. I love this bag because it has interior pockets that fit diapers really well. I keep about 5-6 of Jana’s diapers on one side, and then I shove about 3-4 of Lily’s pull-ups on the other side. If your toddler is potty trained, unlike my stubborn 2.5 year old, throw in an extra set of underpants in case of any accidents.
I’ve found that Pampers Swaddlers work the best until they start to crawl. Then, I switch to Huggies Movers. Because Jana juuuust start crawling (ahh!), I actually recently switched over to the Huggies to get her started. We haven’t had one blowout since the switch!
These first two are the most important things for your diaper bag. Even if you forget everything else, you’ll still probably be able to survive with just diapers and wipes. I also keep a pack of wipes in the diaper bag, and I try to get those flexible pop-up wipes like these Pampers ones. We also love Seven Generation and Babyganics wipes too. Those are our top three, and depending on sales, I get one of those types.
I like to buy my diapers and wipes in bulk either on Amazon, from Sam’s Club, or at Target when they are running a deal. Buying in bulk will save you from having to run to the pharmacy or supermarket and paying a premium price when you run out at the last minute. I highly recommend it.
Bottles and Formula
Depending on how long we’re planning to be out, I usually have about 1-2 bottles for Jana on hand. We love the Philips Avent Natural bottles. Both Jana and Lily took to these really easily, even when I was nursing and pumping milk to give bottles. Now that Jana has fully transitioned to formula only, we have to be sure to have her formula on hand.
I usually prepare the bottles before we leave the house. Then, I put them in the bottle cooler with an ice pack or two. These ice packs are a lifesaver and they’re fun for the kids! Sometimes, I’ll just pack a bottle full of water and then have the extra formula in this snack container ready to go. It’s easy to grab and make real quick, no matter where we are.
This category is another big one. It can save you from any meltdown in the shopping cart or from having to stop at the drive thru to get some fries when your toddler is screaming in the car. Always, always, always pack a few snacks for each kid. Lily, whose a quintessential picky toddler, loves pouches, granola bars, pretzel sticks, and Teddy Grahams, and these are all great snacks to pack in the bag. Make sure to choose something that won’t make a huge mess in the car or at the store. Just taking one look at Lily’s car seat will prove that it’s tough to find mess-free snacks, but we can try anyways.
Jana’s snacks are a little different, since she’s only about 8 months old. She loves teething crackers and puffs. However, I won’t give Jana any snacks in the car. I save those for shopping trips or times when we are sitting together so that I can keep a closer eye on her while she’s snacking. But, having these snacks in the diaper bag have definitely spared me from many tantrums over the years.
You’ll always want to throw in a snack for yourself too, even though us mamas tend to put ourselves last. This is especially important if you are nursing, because you want to keep yourself well-fed throughout the day. Aim for something nutritious and filling, like a protein or granola bar.
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When you go to change your kid’s diaper, you want to have a diaper pad. This way, you won’t have to place them directly on any dirty public surface. Just take one look at those folding diaper changing stations in public restrooms, you’ll likely agree to pay any amount of money to keep your kid off that.
We have a few of these, depending on our needs. I have this Skip Hop bundle for when I go to shopping centers or malls and just want to take in the minimum amount of stuff. I LOVE it. I’d also recommend finding a diaper bag that includes a few accessories, like a changing pad, that can easily fold inside.
Our affordable, stylish diaper bag came with an included diaper pad and other accessories, and we still love it today. We got it as a gift for our baby shower, and it’s still going strong.
Make sure you pack some extra clothes, especially for babies. Sometimes when you go to change a diaper, you may realize that there was a leak, or worse – blowout – that requires an outfit change. You’ll be surprised at how frequently this happens. It’s unreal. Always be prepared with an outfit or two stashed in your diaper bag.
I also pack an outfit for my toddler, even though I rarely ever use it. It’s just nice to have in case she makes a mess when she’s eating or she happens to have a leaky diaper too. This, thankfully, becomes rarer as they get older, but it is still possible.
A must-have in our diaper bag is Desitin diaper cream. My Lily actually calls this “bum bum cream” and, as a toddler, she usually knows when she needs it. This is great for all ages, and I’ve found that this type of diaper cream is the best one. We’ve used Aquaphor (which I found is better for other types of rashes or skin irritations), and A&D. Nothing works quite as good as Desitin, so I always keep some on hand anywhere we go.
Honestly, if you take a look in my diaper bag, you’ll find a few different bibs, because they tend to get shoved in there and forgotten about. This means that they are essential. We LOVE these Bumkins bibs because they can be easily wiped off and have a little pouch to collect any food that may fall. They also come in a multi-pack for only about $5/bib. These are great for both toddlers AND babies learning to eat. Cotton drool bibs, like the ones we have below, as also a MUST-HAVE for any teething babies or messy bottle drinkers like my Jana.
For Jana, my eight-month-old, I always keep a teething toy nearby. She’s currently cutting her two upper teeth in the front, so she’s drooling and cranky. Teething toys like these ones are always helpful at keeping her attention and giving her some relief. You may even want to throw them in your bottle cooler with your bottles to keep them cold. Cold teethers are the best for relieving teething pain!
Even though this list is already pretty lengthy (it’s crazy how tiny humans need SO much stuff), there are always a few other things I usually throw in the bag. These items help keep them warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and busy. These are a few things that I switch out depending on where we’re going that day.
- -Hat (for the sun or the cold)
- -Hand sanitizer
- -Hair ties (for both mom and toddler)
- –Sippy cup
With this list, you’ll be prepared for everything and anything – every tantrum, accident, traffic jam, spit up, and plenty more messy moments that life with kids brings. Soon enough, you’ll start to feel like you can’t go anywhere with all this stuff that somehow miraculously all fits into one big bag. Diaper bags really do start to feel like another limb during your baby’s first years.
Good luck packing, mamas!
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