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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Packing Your Diaper Bag

Hi, my name is Casey, and I'm a recovering overpacking addict.

First, let me preface by saying that I have two kids in diapers.  I need more things than a parent with just one child.  However, I used to get a little overboard, and I'm hoping that I can help others to avoid my mistakes.

I used to pack at least 5 diapers for each child, no matter what we were doing or where we were going.  I used to always pack a change of clothes for both kids.  Always extras "just in case."  Extra everything.  Because you just never know, right?

After stuffing diaper bags full to the brim for well over 3 years (and removing all but one or maybe two diapers when I returned home anyway) I've finally begun to pare down and learn what it is that we really NEED when cloth diapering outside the home.  I can honestly say that it's very freeing to have so little along -- and the departure from my normal over-preparedness feels a little like living on the edge (but really isn't).

A few quick tips:
  • I will suggest right now to buy a SMALL diaper bag in the beginning -- you can't overpack if you don't have room. 
  • Learn to be brutal -- do you really NEED to take along 5 board books to go to the grocery store for a quick gallon of milk?
  • Be organized.  Look for a diaper bag with pockets that will suit your needs.  I use my bag as a purse so that I don't have to carry two bags, so I use one pocket to carry wallet, phone, and keys. I love to keep my diapers separate from the rest of my bag, so I use a Planet Wise wet/dry bag.  The clean diapers stay in the front.  That way I can grab the clean diapers along with the wet bag when a change is needed and nothing falls out or gets buried.
  • Be realistic.  Plan for the time you will be gone.  A little pre-planning will help you simplify and also keep you from trying to jam too much into a trip -- something else I'm known to do.  If you change your baby every 2-3 hours, and you estimate that your errands will take you 3 hours to complete, two diapers should be fine.  I keep a few emergency disposable diapers in my car's glove box.
  • Pack a prefold diaper instead of a changing mat.  It can serve multiple purposes (burp cloth, bib, or extra "just in case" diaper) and can be put through the wash.
  • Look for a bag that has exterior pockets for bottles/sippy cups to create more room on the interior.
  • Keep an extra set of clothes for each child (swap out sizes when necessary) in your car's trunk or under the back seat.  They're there in case of a mess happening, but you won't have to tote them around everywhere. Remember:  Worst case scenario, you have to leave early.  Not the biggest deal in the world, it happens to everyone with kids!
So what do you really need to pack? Let's imagine that we're going to run to the store with one child.  It's a big trip, and might take us up to 3 hours.
  1. Inside my Planet Wise wet/dry bag's pocket, I'd put two diapers.  (If using prefolds, fitteds, or an all-in-two system I would pack an extra cover as well in case of poo.)
  2. I use cloth wipes, so I'd put a small handful inside a Planet Wise small wetbag along with my spray bottle of solution and a small tube/tub of ointment.  (The small wetbag keeps any possible leaks at bay, and I suggest using your peri bottle from the hospital -- it snaps tight and is taller/slimmer than most spray bottles, plus it's free and recycled.)  I put my small bag of wipes/solution inside the wet/dry bag with the diapers -- when I grab the larger bag for a diaper change, everything I need is right there.I pack a prefold diaper to use as a changing pad or other utility.
  3. I pack a sippy (or bottle) into the exterior pocket.
  4. I pack a non-perishable snack (banana chips work great) into a Planet Wise snack bag.  (This isn't entirely necessary, but even short trips can be terrible if a kid gets hungry so I just keep a little something with me at all times.)
  5. Inside my "mommy pocket" I put my phone, wallet, and checkbook.  I usually use a carabiner to attach my keys somewhere on the outside of my bag so that I'm not digging for them.  I also try to find a pocket that's more accessible (on the front or near the top) for my mommy things. 
  6. If I really feel it'll be necessary (we all know those days) I'll pack a small book or toy.

And that's honestly it!  You don't need to bring the whole nursery with you every time you leave the house -- I promise. Are you an overpacker, or do you pack lightly? 


Marianne said...

This is a great post! Thanks!

Allison said...

We've done two diaper bag posts on our blog. Feel free to check them out:

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These diaper bags are really worth investing in.

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sarah brightman said...

I use diaper bags to put all baby stuff in it. Which things you like to keep in it?
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