How to Pack a Diaper Bag
Being prepared with a full diaper bag while out of the house is always better than guessing or thinking twice about things. You'll never know what situation you'll be in or what you'll need in order to keep a baby happy, so a ready-packed diaper bag will always come to your rescue.
- 1Select a suitable diaper bag. The type of diaper bag you use will depend on what you expect from it. For short trips lasting anywhere from a half hour to a few hours, a smaller bag will be fine; but for longer trips, including car travel, camping, and visiting the in-laws, a larger bag is a must. When purchasing a diaper bag, check for such features as:
- Easy-to-access pockets, plenty of them for various items
- Thermally lined pockets to keep food and drink warm or cool
- Special compartment for diapers and change mat
- Comfortable handles or straps for carrying or wearing - try the bag on in the store to see if it feels right for you
- Ability to fit over the stroller or pram - this will take the weight off you and makes it easy to access.
- Suitable for your aesthetics. Sure, it is not the most important feature, but it is a fashion accessory. If you like how your diaper bag looks, the happier you will be with it.
- Men might prefer not to lug around a diaper bag that is very overtly feminine: flowery, bright pink, emblazoned with "princess" and so on. Plenty of diaper bags come in gender-neutral patterns, or plain solids that look entirely masculine.
- Many parents prefer diaper bags that look like a backpack or courier bag.
- 2Keep a food stock. If you are not breastfeeding, (and often even if you are) food and drinks should always be packed. Most often times, there will be a circular pocket in the very front of the bag to place the bottle in (bottom edge first; so the nipple portion stays upright). If you are bottle feeding, use a travel container that divides each powder amount and spare travel-sized bottles of water or juice. If your baby is on solids, choose small travel jars that you can throw out when finished. Breastfeeders must either express some milk for travel for a day or so or not bother with stashing a bottle and feed on the run (as what should be natural after a month or two).
- 3Be prepared to bring some diapers and a small portion of diapering supplies. Diapers are essential to keep in stock in a diaper bag. Although the quantity of diapers you need won't depend on the type of diapers, the length of the trip will be a big factor. You might need to stock up on several diapers for longer trips and only a couple diapers for shorter trips. Have at least one diaper for each hour you plan to be out. Also, try to get a travel pack of baby wipes, as well as a tube of diaper rash cream (such as Desitin) inside of a Ziploc re-closable bag. Most often times, you can stack these diapers sideways starting at one side of the bag and layer the remainder of the bag, or pack these on a secondary outside pouch (if available). For those parents of cloth-diaper wearers, prepare to take an extra set or two of diaper pins with you, which can be included in the Ziploc bag containing the diaper rash cream and baby wipes or stuck onto the arm straps.
- If there is a medium-sized pocket on the outside of the bag, stick a diaper or two in there to grab at first then take the diapers from the bag if necessary.
- If you keep both diapers and baby food in your diaper bag, make sure to keep the clean diapers hygienic. Place them inside of a clean larger-size Ziploc bag. Plus, if only one diaper is inside the bag, each Ziploc can be used as a "dirty" bag and hold the used diaper. Diapers can be stacked inside the main compartment of the bag
- 4Pack a diaper-changing mat inside the bag, as well as a set or two of clothes. These could even be spread lengthwise in the main compartment of the bag. It's good to have a changing pad (either disposable or plastic) for those times when there isn't a restroom around. Some restaurants won't have a baby changing station, (the plastic changing table usually mounted on the wall). Having your own plan is better than guessing whether something is available or not.
- 5Keep health essentials in the bag. Use the side pockets or little compartments for medications, emergency phone numbers, etc. Add a tube of teething gel (Oragel® or similar) or a teething ring, and infant Tylenol® (pain relief for infants) - these are both excellent items to leave in the bag. Finally, some tissues are always handy to have in the bag. For older children, you might want to add a tube of antiseptic cream (such as Neosporin) and some adhesive strips (Band-Aids) to the essential items used.
- 6Pack for the weather. Have extra blankets on hand and available inside the diaper bag. Although most parents keep a receiving blanket-styled blanket for cooler trips and even for some trips where it could turn to be too cool for baby but too warm for just their layer of clothing, many parents try to pack for the weather. A good sized blanket is appropriate for a cool environment.
- 7Pack some clothing including some comfortable socks and a baby hat to keep the sensitive parts warm and cozy. Clothing must be folded- each one individually. You may also want to keep an extra sweatshirt or sweater just for those times when the weather changes drastically. You don't need to over pack these things; if it's just for a walk in the park, you probably don't need to pack clothes. However, do not pack a second supply of jackets (unless the jackets are thin, but these could meant for springtime weather.)
- Look into bringing along extra feeding supplies. Let's face it: Babies are picky eaters. Bring along a bib or two is excellent for feeding times.
- 8Keep your baby entertained. Bring a toy or two and a favorite hard cover book. The smaller the toy the better, though if you can, remember their favorite plush toys to take unless you aren't planning to go for too long.
- Pack a pacifier, if you don't generally keep your children entertained with too many toys when in the car. Pacifiers can be tucked away inside a Ziploc bag which can be kept on an outside pocket that isn't being used for diapers. If there aren't enough empty spots in the bag for everything, you may need to poke a cloth diaper diaper-pin around the ring then along the arm-strap of the bag so you can rather quickly grab just one.
- 9Bring sanitary wipes and gel. Put these in their own separate plastic re-closable bag which can be snuck into the diaper bag in a secondary pocket or in the second side of the main compartment of the bag. Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer gel can be a lifesaver when there isn't a sink nearby. Sanitary or antibacterial wipes can help clean off a restaurant highchair, the handle of the grocery car, or the restroom changing table where you plan to change your baby's diaper.
- 10Pack extra plastic bags. Whether a reused grocery bag, or a snap lock bag, you'll need these spare bags constantly for putting dirty bibs and clothes in, or a soiled diaper. Don't ever forget these necessities when leaving, no matter how long you plan to be gone, and be sure to stock up each time you leave the house with your diaper bag and child in hand. Ziplocs aren't a great choice; these bags shouldn't ever be a close-to-sanitary option as they will be used and thrown away soon after you turn to find a trash can.
- 11Give yourself a treat. Pack a little snack for yourself, drop your wallet in, and anything else that will make you happy on your trip, such as a favorite novel, or a note pad for jotting down poems and drop these inside the top of the diaper bag. Take along a camera (which you can gently place above the clothing you took) just in case you see something you'd love to photograph, especially your baby doing something cute.