You may not be a boy-scout, but that doesn't mean you can't adapt their motto "Be prepared!." Organization and preparedness are the keys to surviving the ups and downs of parenthood. This includes having a well stocked diaper bag. If you have a baby on the way, or if he/she has already made an entrance in the world, here are 25 essential items for your diaper bag.
Helpful Tip: If you don't want to drag around a very heavy bag, you can have 2 bags. One for the absolute essentials, and one for the extras. The "extra bag" will stay in the car and be available for emergencies. For example, in your main diaper bag you could only carry 2 diapers, but have more stocked in the extra bag. You could also have extra wipes, toys, snacks, and items you might not need very often.
Diaper Bag Item #1: At least 4 Diapers
As a general rule of thumb, you should have a minimum of 1 diaper for every 2 hours that you plan to be away, plus one extra. However, you never know what might happen, so it's best to have at least 4 diapers available. You probably will never use them all, but it doesn't hurt to be safe. This will prepare you for those days when your baby ends up with diarrhea, and you tear a diaper while changing it, and the car breaks down on the way home. (Hopefully that will never happen!)
Diaper Bag Item #2: Wipes
You need to stock wipes not just for diaper changes, but also to wipe your hands, clean baby's face, etc. To help keep the diaper bag as light as possible, use a traveling wipes package, but keep some extras in the car just in case.
Diaper Bag Item #3: Thermometer
Learn from my mistake, and pack a thermometer! When your baby feels warm and you start worrying if he/she has a fever, you'll be very grateful you packed it. Be sure to keep this thermometer only in the diaper bag – have another one at home. You might also become the most popular mom at playgroup in case another mom needs it. (If you share it, be share to use it for underarm temps only.)
Diaper Bag Item #4: Change of Clothing
You never know if your baby might spit up, or have an explosive diaper, so be sure to pack an extra outfit. Perhaps choose one that 's the most lightweight, but still suitable for weather. Don't forget to pack socks as well. It is also an excellent idea to have an extra shirt packed for you. It would come in handy should your baby spit up all over you, etc.
Diaper Bag Item #5: Medicine
Hopefully, this won't be used very often, but medicine is necessary. Be sure to pack infant tylenol/motrin – ask your doctor for advice. The FDA recently declared cold medicine too risky for children under 2, so consult your doctor if you should have cold medicine. You might have some teething gel packed as well, if your little one is at the teething phase.
Diaper Bag Item #6: Hand Sanitizer
This is helpful not only to prevent the spread of germs, and also to sanitize your hands if you change a diaper but don't have access to a sink. You can buy mini-sanitizer bottles that won't take up too much room.
Diaper Bag Item #7: Nursing cover (if Breastfeeding)
If you are breastfeeding, try to pack a nursing cover. This will allow you to be able to feed your baby wherever, for the most part.
Diaper Bag Item #8: Breast Pads (if Breastfeeding)
Also, if you are nursing, pack some extra breast pads just in case you might need them.
Diaper Bag Item #9: Formula and Bottles if Bottle-Feeding
If you are bottle feeding, be sure to pack enough formula and water for at least the time you'll be out, plus one extra feeding just in case. It might be a good idea to purchase ready-to-feed mini bottles (can be purchased online or in some stores) to help lessen the hassle.
Diaper Bag Item #10: Snacks / Food
If your little one is old enough to be eating solids, it's wise to pack food, even if you don't think you'll be feeding him/her. Pack a spoon and at least one jar of food. If he/she is old enough to be eating finger foods, pack some snacks as well.
Diaper Bag Item #11: Blanket
This is more for younger babies. A blanket is a necessary not only to keep the baby warm, but also to let them lay on. For example, if you're going to the park, you could lay your baby on the blanket.
Diaper Bag Item #12: Changing Pad or Extra Blanket/Towel
A changing pad is very useful for changing your baby in odd places. It's also a lot more sanitary that using the changing tables in public restrooms. If you don't have one or it won't fit in your bag, an extra blanket or towel works great as well.
Diaper Bag Item #13: Plastic Bags
This is needed to discard of those diapers. There also might be some instances where you won't be able to throw diapers away and will need to bring a soiled diaper home. (I know, yuck!) Old Wal-Mart plastic bags work fine, as do large zip-lock plastic baggies as well.
Diaper Bag Item #14: Sunscreen
If it's the middle of winter and you don't plan on going outside, you can skip this one. But, if you do plan on being in the sun, sunscreen is necessary to prevent your little one from getting burned. You can buy smaller tubes of it to save room.
Diaper Bag Item #15: Diaper Rash Cream
A small tube of diaper rash cream might be helpful in the event your baby comes down with a rash while you're out. Or, if you choose to use it to prevent diaper rashes, you might want to include it as well.
Diaper Bag Item #16: Band Aids
You never know when your little one might need a band aid – so pack a few different sizes. Hopefully you'll never use them. You never know, you might come across a situation where someone else needs them too.
Diaper Bag Item #17: Kleenexes
You've gotta have those tissues for your little one's runny noses. The best thing to do is pack a travel or purse-size package of tissues.
Diaper Bag Item #18: Extra Set of Keys
If you're prone to locking your keys in the car, or just want to extra cautious, it never hurts to have an extra set of keys. Hopefully you'll never need to use them, but say you do (and worse your tot is locked in the car) you'll be very grateful you packed them.
Diaper Bag Item #19: Important Phone #'s
A card with important phone numbers is another essential for a diaper bag. Be sure to include your pediatrician, pharmacy, and any other important #'s you can think of. Also include your number, in case the bag should get lost.
Diaper Bag Item #20:. Toys
Toys are necessary to entertain your baby while waiting at the doctor's, going shopping, sitting in church, or whatever. Pack a few small toys that are reserved for outings only.
Diaper Bag Item #21: Books
A small book or two is also great to keep your little one occupied when necessary. It's not an absolute necessity, but it's nice to include it in the diaper bag.
Diaper Bag Item #22: Extra Pacifier
If your baby uses a pacifier, pack a extra one. In the event that it falls in the mud, etc., you might be relieved to have an extra one available.
Diaper Bag Item #23: Burp Cloths
This, of course, is for very young babies. Try to pack a burp cloth if you plan to be feeding your baby. It can also be used to clean up messes if necessary.
Diaper Bag Item #24: Teething Ring
If your baby is in the teething phase, a teething ring would be helpful to help lessen the pain a little and give the baby something to bite on.
Diaper Bag Item #25: Bib(s)
If you plan on feeding your baby while out, or if he/she is drooling a lot, be sure to pack at least one bib. You can also purchase disposable bibs to use if you'd prefer.
It is possible, of course, to survive without packing all of these items. But your life might be just a little less hectic if are very prepared!
Congratulations on your precious bundle of joy! Happy Parenting!