The diaper bag we pack for Faye is a fairly bare bones affair. Of course it’s not entirely bare bones, because life with a baby isn’t bare bones. It’s padded bones. A little messy and jiggly but very lovable bones.
In fact, it turns out that unpacking a bag and writing about its contents is a surefire way to feel like what you have is anything but simple. But eight months on the job, this is where we are. Our diaper bag might not include everything you include. It might include quite a bit more. But in case you’re looking for encouragement in the crusade against schlepping the entire nursery on your shoulder, here’s what’s been working for us:
As I’ve mentioned before, the bag itself is a several-year-old tote that I scooped up from Forestbound. If I were to buy a dedicated diaper bag, I might choose this one, which has convenient snaps along the top to help keep everything secure on long subway rides. And there are plenty of long subway rides. This is the bag as I pack it to drop Faye off for an afternoon of babysitting or a long day out on the town (say, museum hopping). When I head to the grocery store or the post office, or even for a long winter’s walk, I bring exactly none of this stuff because I hate being loaded down with stuff. More on that here.
For clarity’s sake, I’ve divided the bag’s contents into three main categories:
Fairly self-explanatory, I think. (A bit more about diapers, here, in case you’re interested in going the cloth route.) The wet bag is something that’s essential for cloth diaperers, but when we’ve traveled and used disposables, I’ve found that it’s helpful to have around then, too. Kind of a nice relief not to have to ask someone if you can throw a soiled diaper into their trash can. We bring Faye to my sister’s house for babysitting most weeks, so there’s always a bit of coconut or jojoba oil around for her to use, but we’ve also been given a number of samples of these creams as gifts from friends, and I keep them in the bag just in case we’re out and about and need something soothing.
Now that Faye has nearly reached the eight month mark, we’re firmly entrenched in solid food territory. I’ve been using small stainless steel containers to pack up a bit of mashed avocado or squash or anything else mushy. We use glass bottles for milk (they come with a silicone sleeve, which I usually remove because they have a tendency to soak up freezer smells if the bottle’s been frozen.)
an extra set of diaper fasteners
an extra diaper cover
an extra onesie
an extra pair of pants
a small toy or two
I keep this stuff to a minimum because it’s amazing how fast you can find yourself cramming in the just-in-case snowsuit or the just-in-case sun hat on a day when it’s raining torrentially and 70 degrees. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I really wished I had something that’s not on this list.
I keep things organized in the diaper bag by reusing small muslin bags: one for Faye’s bottles and one for her solid foods. I admit that this step might appear precious or unnecessary, but I find that using the bags helps me to remember to pack them. A morning trek to the nearest (read: far away) Whole Foods to buy a new nipple because I’d forgotten to pack one taught me to develop a packing strategy. Luckily, our amazing babysitter packs everything back up for us at the end of the day. Together I think we’ve got a pretty good system going to make sure that we’re not constantly leaving behind spoons or bottle caps or nipples or any of the little things that could get lost in the shuffle. This zipped pouch from my friend Becca houses all of the extras: diaper cover, bib, onesie, diaper cream, etc. Keeping all the little stuff zipped up makes finding it easier than it would be if everything was floating all around.
Into the main bag go the diapers (loose), a small plastic box that we refill with wipes (similar, here), the wet bag, and the other pouches.
In the early weeks after Faye came, we purchased a small travel changing pad. I can now safely say that like so many new baby purchases, the pad served mostly as a way for us new parents with a tiny infant to feel better. With the changing pad, we felt prepared. Having it safely tucked into our tote meant we’d never show up to the pediatrician without extra diapers again. For that extra bit of piece of mind, it was probably worth it to have the changing pad. But I can also honestly say that we rarely really needed it and only occasionally used it. A few weeks ago I left it out on the stoop for some other young parent to scoop up.
And if there’s one take away from this post, that’s it. Some things will work and you will cling to them for support. Some things won’t, and you’ll abandon them on neighbors’ stoops for someone else to use. Nothing makes parenting a tiny human easy, but a very few things make it easier. You just have to find what those things are. More often than not, it’s not very many things at all. For me and for now, the solution to a diaper bag has been using an old tote and stuffing it full of pouches.
* I can’t find our exact bag on Etsy anymore, but a quick search yields tons of similar results.
PS. Last spring we started using this backpack, a gift from Storq, and it’s been awesome. Like everything else baby-related there are about a million options that will work just fine. It’s part trial and error, part personal preference, and part convenience.
PPS. This post was updated after the birth of Erin’s second child (January 2017).
More baby proof posts, HERE.