The items that fill up your diaper bag will change from before your baby is delivered, to the newborn stage, and into true “baby”-hood. In the third part of this four-part series, I’ll look at what items should be swapped out for the previous ones once your child completes the milestone first year of his life.
Unless you are a miraculous mama, chances are your one-year-old is still in diapers, which means the trusty change pad, diapers, wipes, and diaper cream, must remain in the bag for another year (or longer.) But many of the other items will change.
Nursing moms may use the 12-month mark as their cut-off to switch over to whole milk, which means you can unpack the nursing cover and/or formula caddy and replace it with an ice pack compartment to hold your supply of milk and snacks. You have likely already begun the switch to a sippy cup, so this will replace the bottle in your bag. The Munchkin Latch Transition Trainer Cup has two side handles for an easy grip, a flexible soft spout, and a lid that prevents spills.
By one year of age, most kids will have started on some soft foods, like rice cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables. So you’ll need to start looking into food storage compartments that will keep fresh pureed fruits and other meats cold until they’re ready for use. Alternatively, you’ll want to throw in an ample supply of baby food jars to get you through each outing. I pureed fruits and vegetables for my son in large batches, then stored them in freezer cubes. When I was ready to head out for a day, I’d grab a couple and throw them into the diaper bag, and they’d be perfectly defrosted by meal time. You can store such homemade baby food in containers like the Vital Baby Basics Food Pots, which come in three packs, each container holding one meal, with a secure lid.
Baby snacks are a mom’s best friend. My son gobbled up Mum Mums like they were candy. But you can bring along any dry snacks, like crackers, or throw in a container with some easily portable (and soft) fruits, like a banana or mandarin orange. I used a small handheld feeder with a mesh cover that allowed my son to suck happily on a piece of fruit, like a banana, without worry that he could choke. A similar option is the Boon Pulp Silicone Feeder, which comes with tiny holes at the top through which your child can enjoy some nutritious fruit or vegetable. It’s made from PVC- and phthalate-free plastic that is also dishwasher-safe.
Along with the food will be the required utensils – most importantly, a spoon. Opt for something simple like a set of the Munchkin Soft-Tip Infant Spoons that come in a pack of six, so you can keep some at home and a couple in the diaper bag. Or consider a neat option like the Boon Squirt Food Dispenser, which includes a compartment on the base where you can store pureed foods, and a spoon at the top into which you squirt the spoonfuls. The silicone bulb is fully food-grade and safe to use, and can hold up to 3 ounces of baby food.
A bib is still necessary, but now that your little one will be dribbling more than just milk, you will appreciate one that can be easily cleaned. The Silikids Silicone Baby Bib is a smart option since it can be easily wiped clean when you’re done, and placed back in the diaper bag. It’s made from 100% food-grade silicone, and is dishwasher safe once you get home.
Bring along a small washcloth as well, so you can wipe the containers dry after giving them a quick rinse in a nearby sink.
Baby Entertainment & Comfort
A cute rattle toy won’t cut it any more for a one-year old. They’ll need far more stimulation. And your one-year-old might be over the soother by now, satisfying that oral fixation with edible snacks instead.
Working in the tech industry, it’s hard for me not to recommend a toy phone like the VTech Text & Go Learning Phone. A one-year-old might be a bit too young to fully understand the games, but let’s face it: every parent has handed his child his own smartphone or tablet at one time or another. This phone has five learning games and three fun activities to help kids learn order, letters, and phonics. For now, though, it’s a fun toy that makes sounds, has buttons, and plays more than 50 melodies. A bonus: it runs on a pair of easily-accessible AA batteries, so if they’re running low, you can pop into most any store and grab some replacements. Or better yet, keep an extra pack in the diaper bag with you at all times.
If you want something a bit more suitable to his age, consider the LeapFrog Learning Lights Remote, which helps kids aged 6 months to 3 years learn numbers, shapes, and even French words and phrases. And it has the same stimulating buttons, music, and lights.
On the health and safety side, it’s safe for babies to take medicine like Tempra at one year of age, which means it’s wise to keep a bottle in the diaper bag, in case of emergency fever or discomfort.
Depending on the weather, you may want to add other appropriate items, like a pair of sunglasses (I’m a fan of Bany Banz, which wrap around the back of baby’s head), baby-safe sunscreen, and other lotions to ensure baby’s skin is always nourished. In the summer, I always liked to keep an extra Swimmer in the diaper bag in case we came upon an impromptu splash pad that he could jump into to have some fun and keep cool on an especially hot day.
Extra clothing and other handy items
Now that your child is eating real food, the need for an extra pair or clothes will be greater. And now that he’s likely mobile (or just getting there), you need to add items like socks to the list. The JoJo Maman Bebe Stay Put Butterfly Socks are good for roaming about upright thanks to the anti-slip soles and shaped feet. Go an extra step and grab some baby shoes, like the Bobux Zebra Large Baby Shoes, which are easy to slip on to baby’s feet, and provide extra grip should they be attempting to walk about outside.
A hat is also a good idea, in case it’s extra sunny, or a bit chilly. Keep a soft one like the JoJo Maman Bebe Stripe Baby Sun Hat in the bag so it’s there when needed.
Depending on the length of your outing, you’ll want to bring along at least an extra two of everything, including a shirt and pants. I was fond of clothing like rompers, which includes both the top and bottom in one, compact package.
If you want to be extra diligent, add in a travel-sized bottle of baby wash so you can do a quick scrub of any clothing that may have been soiled to help avoid staining before you get back home and can throw it in the washing machine.
Bring along a little bag as well, even if just a plastic bag, to keep dirty clothing, toys, or other items, separate from the other items in your bag until you get home to wash them.
What about mom?
Mom will still need to find room for her own essentials, like credit cards, smartphone, cash, keys, and makeup. A few snacks are a great idea as well – one-year-olds can be quite busy. And you might be so busy making sure your child gets fed that you forget to grab something for yourself, or simply don’t have time to do so. I always kept at least a couple granola bars in my son’s diaper bag. Pack a water bottle as well, to ensure you always stay sufficiently hydrated.
Which diaper bag is best?
Now that your baby is approaching toddler age, you might be ready to look at something that’s more fashionable, like the JJ Cole Satchel Diaper Bag. It has 13 pockets, inside and out, for storing the wide variety of necessary items, and still has the insulated side bottle pockets for keeping milk, juice, or water fresh and cold.