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!
- 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.)
- 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.
- I pack a sippy (or bottle) into the exterior pocket.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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?