What’s in a diaper bag?
Traveling with children should be fun, not stressful. So the last thing you want is to have forgotten a crucial item or stressing about what’s in a diaper bag. I like to keep everything in the kids’ own backpacks. That way, when Hubby and I take them potty, they are carrying everything they need for their own potty breaks, as well as being held responsible for transporting their own needs. Munchkin is 5 and Baby Girl is almost 2, and they love having their own bags to care for.
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Bottles and Food/Formula container
Whether breastfed, formula feed or cows milk, little ones tend to require more liquids than humanly thought possible. While I don’t necessarily suggest packing a whole carton of milk for a day trip (though I have done that once), having a spare bottle to fill at the restaurant is always a good idea.
And when I say spare, I mean to have one they don’t know about. This will come in handy when the main bottle is thrown outside the stroller into a muddy puddle, lands on the bathroom floor or out the car window when no one is looking. Lots of things can happen. Be prepared.
While neither of my kids was very fond of pacifiers, I always had one or two in my diaper bag. Today will not be the day they want one and I left it at home. This can help them fall asleep in a loud room, bumpy road or when they are overtired.
When traveling, make sure to have enough Diapers to at least last the first few days. After that, simply buy them on the economy. The local people have babies, so there is no reason to think that the local corner store or pharmacy won’t carry at least a small package of the size you need.
If you are looking for a hard and fast number of how many diapers to carry around at any given time, my magic number is 1 diaper per hour out of the house. I always come back with a few extras but it is better to have too many than not enough.
Even if you don’t have a small baby, Baby Wipes are a must for any age. You never know when you will need an emergency clean-up of one kind or another. I prefer the natural style – no perfumes and they are sensitive on baby’s little bum, as well as your hands. After changing 10 diapers per day, you will thank yourself.
Not every diaper changing station has a roll of paper to place under your baby. And not all diapers will be changed at a changing station. Having a changing pad means your baby’s bum doesn’t touch the surface of anything questionable, and your legs/picnic blanket/back seat of the car doesn’t come in direct contact with your baby’s dirty backside either.
Breast pumps are considered medical devices and should be allowed as a carry-on item. Check with your airline before packing a separate bag, or simply placing it in the diaper bag.
A manual pump will get the job done, either for immediate relief or top up breastfeeding for another time. They don’t, however, stimulate the glands for further production. It is not recommended that a manual pump is used for full-pump or long-term pumping.
The Medela Swing is the least expensive stimulating electric pump that I have found. Either plug it in or use a new set of batteries to pump anywhere, anytime.
Milk Storage bags
Once you have expressed a sufficient amount of breastmilk and baby doesn’t want it right away, you will need to store it. I have used a handful of different brands and much prefer the Medela milk bags. They seal nicely like a Ziploc bag, I can write the date and time so I never forget when I expressed, and they are also reusable.
Most importantly, they are “hackable”. There is a little yellow strip across the top that will secure to the pump nozzle and collect milk straight from the pump, no need for a bottle. This makes one less step in the preparation process and one less item I need to clean.
Blanket / Cover-up
I have a soft spot for the aden + anais Muslin wrap. It is the only blanket that I trust to wrap around my newborn baby as a swaddle and use as a blanket when they start to squirm. Due to being so lightweight and breathable, I am not afraid if the wrap happened to lay on the baby’s face. We have also used the Muslin wrap as a cover-up when feeding in public, as well as a cover for the stroller or car seat when the sun was at that perfect angle. Be sure to use a stroller fan on those hot days to make up for the lack of air circulation under the blanket; it may be breathable but it still gets warm under there after a while.
A Muslin wrap is also a great idea for covering up while nursing. Know the cultural norms and laws regarding breastfeeding in public during your travels and plan accordingly.
Change of clothes
Always bring a change of clothes for the baby, even if it is only for an hour or two. You never know when disaster will strike. This will not end until they are firmly potty trained, and even then, accidents happen. I try to leave a single outfit at the top of the season, and only change it once it is either used or I switch the closet around to reflect new size and weather. A full outfit would be best; socks, bottoms, top, sweater, and bonnet. A pair of slippers if you are feeling especially practical today.
Have these stored at the bottom of the diaper bag, tucked away and forgotten, in a ziploc bag. Not only will this keep the clothes clean if there is ever a leak in the diaper bag, but will also keep the diaper bag clean once the kids have changed their outfit and you are now carrying around the soiled outfit.
First Aid Kit
Kids have a tendency to run when running is the least safe way of getting to your destination. Slips happen, skinned knees happen and blisters definitely happen. Carry a small first aid kit to cover these basic ailments, as well as some pain reliever. Many parents have suggested that a first aid kit is not required while traveling since they do not feel the need to bring one on regular outings or day trips… we are of a different camp. We always bring a first aid kit, even on those small trips downtown. Skinned knees and splinters wait for no-one. Now that they are in school, we even have a little pocket in the front of their bags that carry a few band-aids, kleenex and a small envelope of baby wipes – because you never know.
I have been known to carry around Benedryl while they were younger, as they had yet to be tested for severe allergies like Nuts, Eggs or Bee stings. Benedryl won’t replace an epi-pen, but it can relieve the symptoms long enough for emergency services to arrive.
For toddlers and small children
Diaper bags aren’t just for babies. We may call it something else; toddler bag, personal backpack, carryon item, whichever you cal lit, it still needs to have the same basic items until they are teenagers (even then).
For potty-trained toddlers, nothing is scarier than nearly falling into the toilet because their little bums just don’t fit. Grabbing a Potty Seat with hygienic carry bag is the best way to reinforce potty training while traveling. Allowing them to jump back and forth into diapers will only confuse the child and hinder their potty training progress.
Once they are able to be trusted with a book, having Books for Children is never a bad idea. This will keep them occupied while sitting long hours in the stroller. They can be large books in the stroller or little palm-sized board books that even baby can flip through. This doesn’t only need to be for the baby/toddler. Older children can easily get bored and forget to pack something; pack a magazine or notepad for teens.
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