We’ve run through what you should pack in a diaper bag before you give birth, what to pack with a newborn, and what you need once your child is at least one. But as noted, a diaper bag often becomes mom’s only bag. And that means it’s just as important to pack items for yourself inside of one as it is to pack stuff for baby.
I don’t just mean the typical water bottle, keys, wallet, cash, credit cards, and granola bar for those “oops, I forgot to have lunch” days. But also other gear to keep your level of sanity favourable, and to help you remain sufficiently connected with those over the age of toddlerhood.
I remember one morning when my son was just a few months old. I rushed out of the house to take him for a visit with my grandmother. Halfway down the highway, I’d realized that I had absent-mindedly forgotten to both brush my hair and teeth. Yes, mommy brain is real!
That said, it’s not a bad idea to keep a spare travel toothbrush and toothpaste, and a travel-sized hairbrush in the diaper bag for those days when you accidentally leave the house looking a bit disheveled. True, any new mom will tell you that she doesn’t give a hoot about how she looks when she’s picking up some groceries or making a quick trip to the bank. But every mom will appreciate being able to do a “quick fix” if she spots someone she knows, or ends up going out longer than expected. If you have an extra big diaper bag, don’t hesitate to throw some additional toiletries in there as well, like deodorant and lipstick and/or lip balm.
Also, a mom’s cycle can be off after pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to keep a few feminine hygiene products tucked away in the bag in case of an emergency.
Wet wipes are also a mom’s best friend, helping to clean up everything from baby’s dirty mouth, to his diaper area, to both mom’s and baby’s hands. Plus, mom can use them to wipe down surfaces, like the table at a restaurant, or her own dirty spills. The Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Wipes are perfect to bring along. They are made from eco-friendly, unbleached bamboo and natural and organic oils, so they’re as safe to use on baby’s face as they are to use on his bottom. And they are 100% biodegradeable, too. Keep a pack or two in your diaper bag at all times. You’d be surprised how quickly you end up using them all.
It goes without saying that you should always have your smartphone on you, not just for emergency purposes, but your own sanity as well. It will it come in handy when you need a break and want to instant message a friend, or post a super cute pic of your little one on social media. You can also hand it off to your toddler to keep him occupied for those few moments when you need to scarf down some lunch, or, let’s face it, just need 15-minutes of quiet time. (Don’t feel guilty, mom – we’ve all done it, and more than once!)
With that said, don’t forget to pack a portable backup charging bank that can give your phone a few extra battery boosts when needed. The TP-Link 10,000mAh lithium-polymer power bank can recharge a smartphone several times over before its own battery dies, and even has dual USB ports so you can simultaneously charge your phone and another device, like your child’s toy or your Bluetooth headset. To keep your sanity at a full level, however, don’t forget to double check that the charger is fully charged before you leave the house – there’s nothing worse than your phone dying, and pulling out a portable charger only to find out that its battery, too, has depleted. [Insert a stream of expletives here.]
Part and parcel with the power bank is an extra cable: while some charging banks come with cables integrated into them, which makes life so much easier, some of the smaller-capacity ones do not. Which means you need to pack an extra microUSB or Lightning cable. Consider one that comes in bright colours, like theBelkin Mixit USB/Lightning or microUSB cables, which will make them easier to find inside the bag. If you’re sitting down having a coffee at the local cafe while feeding your baby his breakfast, or in the waiting area of the airport, these can come in handy if there’s a power outlet nearby. Or, consider a compact and convenient option like the Kanex GoBuddy+ USB/Lightning Charge & Sync cable, which can clip to your keychain or a loop on the side of the diaper bag, and can offer a recharge via USB port. As a bonus, it comes with a built-in bottle opener.
If your child has taken over your smartphone, or your battery is running low, consider throwing in a small and lightweight e-reader. You can use it to catch up on a good book while your little one is napping in his stroller, or in the car seat in a store parking lot (because, of course, he fell asleep just before you got to your destination and you don’t have the heart to wake him.) The Kobo Aura H20, is fully waterproof, so you don’t need to worry if a bottle of water, milk, or juice spills on it while it’s in the bag, or your child dunks it in the toilet the second you turn away. It has a 6.8” screen, and is dust (and crumb!) proof as well. Plus, with up to two months of battery life, you don’t need to worry about recharging it too often.
Which diaper bag is best?
If you haven’t upgraded to a more fashionable diaper bag yet, what’s the holdup? Having a diaper bag that looks more like a fashionable tote or satchel can do wonders for a mother’s sanity. My rule is: if you can look at it and, even for a split second, forget that it’s a diaper bag and not a fashion piece from the latest Louis Vuitton or Alexander Wang collection, it’s a win. In fact, you can actually go the official designer route with a bag like theKate Spade New York Seaside Nylon Francis Baby Bag, which has an attractive tile pattern in navy and white, with navy leather trim. On the outside, it looks like a stylish, oversized women’s designer bag. But on the inside are two elastic bottle pockets, interior zip and slip pockets, and a changing pad.