A great sense of panic can come over a parent when you’re out with baby and realize you’ve forgotten something essential, like a diaper, wipes, or even snacks.
Whether you’re heading out to run a quick errand, or embarking on a full day-long adventure, here are some essential items that you should always have with you in your diaper bag … just in case.
Never leave home without diapers. And I mean never. When I was potty training my son, I had one of the worst experiences. We were in the middle of a store when he “went” in his diaper and I hadn’t brought along any spares. With babies, Murphy’s Law always seems to be at play as well. A friend once told me how, without fail, her daughter always soiled her diaper the second they walked into a grocery store. Luckily, she was in a place where she could buy a package if needed. But if you’re in a restaurant, at a playground, or at someone’s house, that can become an embarrassing proposition if you’re not prepared. Always bring a spare, and always bring a few more than you’re likely to need in case baby’s bowel gets more, er, active than you anticipated.
Wipes go hand-in-hand with the diapers. To use my earlier example about the experience with my son, I ended up wetting toilet paper in the store’s bathroom to clean him, then leaving my son to go “commando” for the luckily short car ride home. In theory, it sounds like an OK solution. But have you ever seen the toilet paper that’s typically in public restrooms? It almost disintegrated upon getting wet, making me kick myself for not having thrown a small pack of wipes in my purse.
Hand and Face Wipes
Parents always remember wipes for the baby’s nether regions, but sometimes forget to pack wipes for the hands and face. These will come in handy in the unfortunate case of spit up, or even just to get rid of food that doesn’t quite make it into baby’s mouth. And it beats having to use harsh napkins or toilet paper from the nearest public restroom or restaurant.
My son is 6 now, but even to this day, the second we pull out of our driveway to go somewhere, he is magically hungry and wants a snack. When it comes to growing babies, it’s important that you always have food on hand, whether it’s milk, crackers, or baby food. You can use a travel container to hold snacks, like crackers or fruit, or formula.
Spit up happens, as do spills. Always have a bib (or two!) in your bag to ensure you keep the outfit changes to a minimum.
An Extra Pair of Clothes
And that brings us to the next item: I always brought along an extra shirt, pair of pants, and socks in my son’s diaper bag. And I can’t count how many times they came in handy. You never know when a diaper will spring a leak, and baby will inevitably spit up at some point. Did you get your little one a small ice cream cone to enjoy? Bank on at least half of it ending up on his clothes. For the very little ones, throw in clothing like a footed onesie, instead – it’s a full new outfit in one without having to take up too much room in the diaper bag.
You never know when the weather might take a turn, especially here in Canada. So it’s always wise to keep a hat or toque in the diaper bag in case it’s needed.
Particularly if you might be walking about outdoors, a cute pair of sunglasses is a good idea to allow baby to still enjoy the sights, but ensure his eyes are protected. There are kinds that wrap around the child’s head and Velcro at the back so they’re adjustable for a perfect fit. Plus, you don’t have to worry about it being uncomfortable for baby, or him easily pulling them off. Baby sunglasses don’t include potentially dangerous edges like you’d find with traditional sunglasses.
Nowadays, Canadians are fairly accepting of breastfeeding. But sometimes, moms just aren’t comfortable doing it in public without a cover. I used some great nursing sweaters and shirts combined with a nursing bra if I was in a nursing room of a shopping mall or at home. But when out in public, I always liked to use a stylish cover too, which also had the dual function of keeping my son protected from the sun if it was a particularly hot and sunny day.
I swore by breastfeeding shirts in my son’s first year, and surprisingly, you can get some really fashionable ones that can be both dressed up or down. They make it easy to feed baby without having to hoist your shirt up and reveal your entire torso, and are very discreet. I’ll admit that some of the sweaters are so comfortable, I still wear them to this day as lounge wear around the house!
Depending on where you are, you might be able to get yourself to a microwave, stove, or even a sink to run hot water over baby’s bottle of milk to warm it up. But sometimes, there’s nothing in sight, or you have a plastic bottle you’d rather not stick in the microwave. Having a bottle warmer on hand ensures that baby’s thirst will always be quenched with a warm drink. Many are designed specifically for use on-the-go, able to plug right into a car’s adapter for warming up milk on the way to your destination.
My son wasn’t really in to pacifiers, but I know plenty of kids who swear by them, and parents who run frantic if it’s misplaced. A good idea is to always have a clean spare in the diaper bag in the event that baby’s favourite one gets misplaced. Once you find the one your baby loves, grab an extra one (or two!) to have on hand. Look for one that comes with a travel cover so it won’t get dirty when you pop it into the diaper bag; and consider bright colours so you can find them easily.
Especially in the summer months, it’s a good idea to have a swim diaper on hand in case of awesome sprinkler emergencies! When my son was about a year and-a-half, we attended a friend’s birthday party. It was such a hot, humid day that the kids ended up stripping off their clothes and running in the sprinkler. My son had fun in his diaper. But it would have made things much easier, and more comfortable for him, if we could have slipped on a swimmer instead. In addition to disposables, there are also reusable ones that you can take back home for a wash.
I found packable play yards great to take to someone’s house, especially if it’s a friend or family member who doesn’t have young kids. Even today, I’ve kept my son’s and bring it out during summer BBQs so friends with babies and young children have a place to put them while they mingle, hands-free, for a few minutes. You can pop it open and sit baby inside without worry that he’ll scoot off when you look away, or attempt to crawl up or down the stairs. Packable ones fold up easily, and can often fit into a lightweight carry bag that looks like an oversized suitcase.
Did I forget anything? Browse lots of great baby essentials online in the baby section of BestBuy.ca. Let me know if there is something missing on my list that you wouldn’t leave home without.