What kind of bag should you pack and why?
There are so many ways to pack a diaper bag, and every which way could be the right way. When I pack a diaper bag, I take into account, how long I’ll be out, if I’ll be alone or have help, and where I’ll be. If we’re going on a day trip, I might choose the Disaster Pack. If I’m heading to the Costco or the market, I might choose the Minimalist Pack. If I want the best of both worlds, but don’t want to break PRs with the weight of the bag, and definitely don’t want to cancel a day trip because our son decided to poop through his extra outfit, then the Complete Pack it is. I thought simplifying the types into 3 categories might make it easier for you, so here’s an explanation and example of each. Feel free to add or remove items as you see fit.
The Minimalist Pack
Saving back pain and shoulder strain for the real important weight—your baby. This bag is packed in an effort to make finding items easy, getting in and out of places faster, and reducing the weight you have to carry. Dads like this one because it can be packed into other types of bags like back packs, and messenger bags. But what’s inside?
1. 3 Diapers
This is a minimum. Anything less is a gamble you’re sure to lose, especially if you’re out and about for a while.
2. Travel Size Wipes (Moist)
I would avoid brining dry wipes unless you’re 100% sure you’ll have a water source on hand. But if you’re like most parents, you sometimes have to make due with changing your baby in the back of a car with no water bottle in sight. Add the extra OZ and get the wet wipes. You can alternatively pre moisten dry wipes and use a sandwich size Ziploc to carry them, but be warned that on a hot day the wipes will dry up very quickly.
3. 1 Swaddle
This doubles as a burping cloth or a feeding cover for mom. You can also use it as a changing pad. Then there’s always that random mess your baby can make via “blowout” or projectile spit up, and the swaddle can easily convert into a rag for cleaning up the mess.
4. 1 Empty Gallon Ziploc Bag (freezer bag preferred)
The preceding items need to be put somewhere after use, and sometimes hand delivering these soiled items to the acceptable receptacle, or in the case of a salvageable swaddle, back into your bag, is going to be necessary. Avoid making a scene or a bigger mess by putting them into the Ziploc. This should also seal away unwanted smells.
5. 1 Baby toy
Your baby is easily entertained by your face and your voice, but in the middle of ordering a black tea lemonade from your coffee shop while a queue of caffeine deprived zombies waits impatiently behind you, you may not have time to entertain your little one. Hand over the toy, and reduce your stress. I used to pack a teething toy that doubled as a rattle—bless the soul at fisher price who invented such a thing!
6. Mom Snack
For the love of sanity, please do not make mom H-ANGRY! Pack a nutritious snack that’s balanced in fats, proteins, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. A wholefood granola bar works very well. It can help you pacify her H-ANGER while navigating to the nearest restaurant.
The Complete Pack
You’re prepped for typical day to day baby outings. It’s not the heaviest bag around, but it isn’t fun carrying it all day. Hopefully you have a compartment in that stroller of yours or you can at least hang it on the handles when you’re tired of carrying it. Getting in and out of places with it shouldn’t be impossible, but it requires some maneuvering. Most consumer bags are marketed for this type of pack.
1. 5 Diapers
Because in this case; lighting can strike twice and if you’re not prepared you’re going to get hit again. Pack the extra diapers, even if they get in the way of easy access.
2. Regular Pack Of Wipes
It doesn’t have to be sealed pack, but it should at least be half full. They’re great for baby cleanup, but can be used to wipe down other surfaces like car seats or your hands.
3. 2 Swaddles
One dedicated to baby, and the other for mom, or changing pad purposes.
4. 1 Gallon Ziploc + 1 Small “Kitchen” Trash Bag
The gallon Ziploc is great for small items, but sometimes you have to put baby’s clothes, and even mom’s shirt somewhere, and the bigger bag is very useful for separating trash and items you need to sanitize and reuse.
5. 1 Baby Toy + 1 Dedicated Teething Toy
Almost all baby toys can be chewed on, but there exists a toy that can be soaked with water, and then frozen, to create a teething toy that truly does soothe a fussy or bored baby. The frozen teething toy can also be used to cool baby down on a hot day.
6. Mom snack(s)
Get the granola bar, but don’t forget to pack a couple of bananas or a bag of grapes. Variety can make the H-ANGRIEST of moms calm down.
7. Extra Outfit For Baby
That extra outfit is a standard, and should get you home before the next mess. Plus, this pack isn't complete without a backup Toddler Elvis Romper--I always carry one!
8. Extra Shirt For Mom
Because spit up is known to get through swaddle barriers. Mom doesn’t want to walk around with a stain that sorta looks like a US state if it was runny and milky white.
The Disaster Pack
This bag goes the distance. If you’re spending the whole day out, and you have no intention of letting some soiled diapers change your plans, then this is the pack for you. Great for trips to the zoo, or a visit to grandma’s house a few hours away. Getting in and out of places with this bag can be difficult, and getting through store aisles or crowded places may require some knowledge of Olympic Weight Lifting movements.
1. 7 diapers
The Poopacalypse is real. My son has been known to go through diapers one change after another, and if it wasn’t for over packing diapers I would have been wrapping him in newspaper at times.
2. Full Pack Of Wipes
Open packs were reserved for home use at times. Full packs were great for standard use and came in handy when we went on long trips and didn’t want to risk paying a premium for a travel pack in an emergency. I bet Vincent Vega wish he had a full pack of wipes in that car of his.
3. 2 Swaddles
Standard, one for baby, and one for mom or changing pad.
4. 1 Gallon Ziploc Bag + Small "Kitchen" Trash Bag
Standard! Keep things separate and smells sealed up.
5. Mom’s Nursing Cover
Easy to setup, with 360 degrees of coverage. Great way to feed baby IF mom wants to cover up.
6. 2 Baby Toys + 1 Teething Toy
Variety is your friend, especially on long days out.
7. 2 Extra Outfits For Baby
We once had to run into a local target to get our son some clothes because he was trying to break a record for the Most Blowouts in One Day by a fussy baby. Just pack the extra outfits and destroy the evidence if you have to.
8. Extra shirt for mom
9. Extra Shirt For Dad
Because dads know how to burp babies too.
10. Hand Sanitizer
Apparently there are no sinks & soap on long roads in the middle of nowhere.
11. Water Bottle(s)
I carry one everywhere even to this day, but I’m talking about a sealed bottle in the bag for multi-purpose use such as rinsing items, or washing hands. Trust me, it’s only an extra 16oz.
12. Snacks For Mom and Dad Too
Being H-ANGRY isn’t just reserved for moms. Feed the beast inside dad with a healthy snack, and watch prince charming return.
13. Diaper Changing Mat
Keep it clean, keep it separate. A barrier works wonders, and can be a life saver in not so sanitary public restrooms. Plus most have pockets where wipes and diapers fit snuggly and can be moved easily to the appropriate destination.