I have a mother who carried a tiny back pack with her but she always seemed to have exactly what she needed with her. She taught me well, and I am going to pass along those tips and tricks plus some of my own. I am a cloth diapering mom and so that plays a little bit into how I have to pack but the tips will apply to all moms and dads. At the time of this post my kiddos are 1.5 and 3.5 so I only have one kiddo in diapers. But I had a period of time where both kiddos were in diapers and I was still able to use the same bag.
Things to look for in a bag:
- Washable. I got this wrong. My bag is pretty scuzy and does not wash up well I wish I had bought one that I could toss in the washing machine or wipe down.
-Pockets. You want them to make sense for your needs. I had a bag with too many once it actually made stuff hard to find. I like to have one for a wallet, diapers, mom pouch and only 1-3 small ones.
- Stands up on its own.. Its a lot easier to get stuff out of a bag without it tipping over.
- No velcro. I hate how noisy it is. Its really disruptive at church or if you are carrying a sleeping kiddo.
- Just the right size. If your bag is so big that it hurts your back you need to down grade. If you can't fit basic necessities for an hour or two away from the car then you need something bigger.
- Multiple carry options. I like to use baby carriers and sometimes I want my bag on my hip and other times I want it as a back pack. I like having a bag that does both of these things.
Pack things that you will need if you are going to be gone 1-3 hours. Things beyond that can often stay in the car or go in a separate bag. 9/10 you won't be gone super long and don't need a HUGE bag. These items will obviously vary by age of the child. For instance I don't have a baby so you won't see a burp cloth/nursing items/or bottles.
Always pack a spare outfit. You don't want to be hauling a kiddo with poop or pee on them out to the car. Rompers are a great option they roll up super small. As you can see I like to roll them up and store them in a wetbag (a washable waterproof bag) or a ziploc. Then you have something to put the dirty clothes in.
This one may be weird but I always have a baby sling in my bag. It rolls up palm sized and then I can have my hands free in seconds. I have unfolded it into a blanket, napkin, nursing shawl, you name it.
Pack more than enough diapers and wipes for how long you will be gone. 1 diaper an hour is always a good bet. Some people like to store their wipes and diapers in a pouch so its all they need to take with them for a diaper change. Some people like changing pads (I personally like using paper towels instead).
I keep my spare outfits and a spare diaper at the bottom of my bag. I don't reach for them all the time and so they stay there undisturbed. I also like to use coupons so I keep a few in a plastic bag.
This is my best tip by far. Have a MOM pouch. Your makeup, lotion, a stain stick, bandaids etc. If its in a pouch you can also easily take those items and pop them into a purse for child free excursions. I also like having a mom pocket as they call them for your wallet and checkbook.
I am never without a few toys or snacks. You never know when hunger will strike or how long you may end up being gone. Granola bars are great for older kids. I keep candy for bribery situations :) Formula packets are also great to have for emergencies.
Keep mini items of things in the diaper bag so you are not constantly packing and repacking your diaper bag. I love small sizes of diaper cream so much easier than a big tube.
I like to keep a total of 4 diapers in my bag 3 cloth and 1 disposable. A good rule is to keep 1 diaper for every hour you are gone. Keeping extra in the car is also a great way to cut down on diaper bag bulk. Just remember you don't need to pack the house. Just keep in your bag what you need for while you are away from you car. If you are running quick errands you may even be able to get away with just a wristlet that has a diaper, wipes and wallet. Planning to be gone all day: use two bags, keeping a bag of extras in the car (reusable grocery bags work great for this). It is also a good idea to re-stock when you get home rather than when you need to leave, so that you are always ready to go anytime.