Let's Play: What's In My Diaper Bag?

It’s not that heavy, but my baby has never been naked, covered in poop, hungry or bored in public!
Publish date:
February 8, 2013
parenting, babies, diaper bag

I'm a first-time mother and enthusiastic bag-shopper.

As a stay-at-home mom new to the suburbs, I figured I'd need a diaper bag I could be proud to carry everywhere, one that would take us from newborn-babyhood all the way into very early childhood. I wanted something stylish, yet utilitarian -- gender-neutral enough for my husband to feel comfortable carrying, but not something that looked like it was for, you know, hiking.

Also, for a diaper bag, the configuration of storage pockets is pretty important to me because I'm often looking for something with one hand while the other arm is holding a squirmy baby. Can you tell I was delighted to have an excuse to be a picky nutcase about choosing a diaper bag?

After a ridiculous amount of trial and error, I accepted my need to be selfish enough to still carry my own purse, and I settled on the wonderful Ju Ju Be BFF bag to suit my mothering needs.

I love that it's durable and washable, that the changing pad is kept on the outside (not lying smack in the middle of the bag, because that is disgusting!), and that it looks vaguely like a 70's carry-on bag. 

But once I decided on the perfect bag, it took some practice and backaches to figure out what to keep IN it.

You would think this would be common sense, but you would be wrong.

So here they are -- the items I carried when baby was tiny and the items I carry now, as he approaches his first birthday and the impending hell of toddlerhood.

In the big main compartment of the bag:

- A change of clothes

Though there are few things cuter than a baby wearing only a diaper, I'm not terribly comfortable allowing my son to be half-naked all the time. We have to get groceries, you know? And if old ladies are constantly trying to kiss his fat, naked tummy, I just can't get stuff done.

So I always keep a change of clothes handy. I'm too lazy to switch everything around in the bag on a regular basis, so I like to choose a comfy outfit that is on the big side, so it will definitely fit. I also don't like to waste baby's cutest clothes by leaving them in the bag for months, so I keep it simple: a plain white bodysuit in the next biggest size, plain pants in a bigger size, plain white socks.

If baby's diaper has leaked or he's barfed all over himself enough to require a full change of clothes, I don't want to put him in something extra nice, right? If we're taking baby out somewhere at night, I will throw in a pair of footie pajamas so we can have an easier transition to bedtime.

- One or two 8oz ready-to-drink Similac Sensitive bottles and one clean Avent 9 oz bottle

I had to quit nursing very early on due to a million reasons (don't even start with me, Judgmental Lactation Enthusiasts!), so baby has been formula-fed for the better part of his first year of life. Since he usually drinks about every 4 hours, I plan my formula stash for the day accordingly.

If I'm just running out for an hour or two, I don't even bother. If we're having a big day out, I will bring 2 or 3, just in case. Blessedly, I am in the process of weaning baby, so hopefully soon I will no longer have to worry about this nonsense.

- Toys

It's good to have a few toys on hand in case baby gets too bored with his environment. I rotate these occasionally, but there are a few standouts:

  • Sophie le Giraffe. This little toy is total baby crack. They can't get enough of her. My son has been enthusiastically chewing on Sophie for 8 months straight. Literally, since the time he was physically capable of holding something (at around 3 months old) until now (11 months).

  • Jingle Bird.
 This is great because it can be tied to the stroller or shopping cart and baby laughs hysterically when I jangle it in his face, which is always helpful when we're in a particularly obnoxious line at Whole Foods.
Fisher Price remote control toy. 
I keep this on hand for restaurants or in case we go to someone's house. It can be loud and annoying, but it's less annoying than me allowing him to play with sugar packets, isn't it?

  • One board book. 
Baby has begun to demonstrate a love of "reading"! Seriously, he will happily turn the pages of a book over and over again. He does this with all the little vocabulary books we have with one picture and word per page. I like to think he's cramming for life and one day he will suddenly start yelling nouns all over the place.

  • One rattle. Because, why not?

In a Ju Ju Be Be Quick pouch with diapers (at least 4, because I'm paranoid about running out), are the following essential unguents:

- little tube of A&D Ointment to apply after all diaper changes

- little tube of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste to use if baby's butt is red

- little bottle of hand sanitizer to use in case I can't get to a sink right away

- little bottle of Cetaphil to help clean particularly sticky poos

- little tube of Eucerin for dry patches of skin

- little roll of doggie bags to put poo diapers in case I'm at somebody's house or the garbage is full and I don't want to leave a pile of poo exposed to the general public

- a big pack of Earth's Best travel wipes.

I schlep the big one around because baby wipes are the ultimate cleaning tool. I use them to wipe down public changing tables, clean baby's face, wipe food stains out of clothing, wipe my own hands. This brand is a bit expensive, but I like them because they are chlorine-free, and they are big, thick and cloth-like- essential if you need to do any, scooping of things.

In the big front pocket:

- Little bottle of dishwashing liquid to wash the bottle if I'm out and about

I will leave this in there when we’re done with bottles in case I need to wash his cup or any utensils while out.

- Packet of pacifier wipes

I used to keep 2 pacifiers in this case at all times, but I stopped when he was around 4 months old. These wipes are useful for cleaning toys when I can’t get to a sink.

- Boogie Wipes

I never thought I'd use such a wasteful product, but these little saline wipes are great for runny noses and removing booger crust without fussiness.

- Tube of Green Babies zinc sunscreen

I use this crunchy brand because it's supposed to have fewer toxins and it's gentle and smells nice.

In the side pouches:

- Kleen Kanteen insulated water bottle (for me)

This water bottle is the best thing ever. It keeps your coffee hot and your ice cubes cold for like 6 hours. No, I don't work for them.

- One bib, a few disposable placemats, one spoon, 1 jar of baby food

I'm not proud of the disposable placemats, OK? But this is "What's In My Diaper Bag" and I'm not going to lie to you! They are wasteful and the one time I tried one in a restaurant, baby spent the whole time trying to scratch holes in it instead of eating the pieces of sweet potato and steak I had carefully and lovingly placed on the placemat. 
I can probably get rid of the jar of baby food because he's been insistent on feeding himself these days, so when we're out to eat he gets little cut up bits of whatever I'm having.

Things I no longer carry, but used to keep in the big compartment

- 1 burp cloth, 1 receiving blanket

I haven't carried these around for quite a few months, but they came in handy when baby was younger and a) spit up a lot while being fed and b) needed an extra blanket while out for walks.

Things that I will probably start carrying in the near future when baby starts walking and being able to draw and stuff:

- Band Aids or gauze, Neosporin and Arnica gel

For the inevitable scrapes and bruises we will face this upcoming spring and summer when baby will be walking and running and (gasp!), climbing.

- Coloring book and crayons

OK, I haven't read that far in "What To Expect The Second Year," so I have no idea when baby will even be able to use crayons much less want to. But I really, really hope he likes drawing and will want to draw pictures!

So there you have it. Am I missing anything important? What's in YOUR diaper bag? What else will I need to carry around as my not-yet-walking 11-month-old approaches toddlerhood?