When I first started packing the diaper bag for my newborn, I packed like there was no tomorrow. Who knew what I would need in that 20 minutes we went to the grocery store or a quick visit to the mall? A full sleeve of diapers, 4 spare pacifiers, 4 spare outfits, 2 blankets, diaper cream, a spare bottle, toys and a red medicine bag full of gas drops, gripe water, Zantac were all artfully placed in the diaper bag. Reading this list, I wonder why I thought I’d need all that, but as I was trying to learn from experience and hope I didn’t get somewhere and need something (which was my deepest fear) I continually over packed. It wasn’t until about 3-4 months in that I really mastered the art of packing a streamlined diaper bag. This is what I learned to pack in my bag and when I talked to several of my friends, their bags looked similar, but might be slightly tweaked based on their own adventures and newborn’s needs.
You don’t pack love (or patience, or a sense of humor) but the fact that you are braving taking your newborn out into the world shows that you have these already.
For you brand-new moms, here is a starter list of what should be in your diaper bag. Remember, to tweak it through your own personal experiences:
1) 1-2 Spare Onesies. Spit-up happens as do blowouts. A spare onesie in your diaper bag will save you from the frantic ”how do I clean this up and what do I do now?” Instead, you will be able to quickly change the dirtied clothes and move on with your errand.
2) 2 Diapers, minimum. You never know when in a short amount of time your little one will decide that this is the time to go, and then go again, and even maybe again. It seemed that when we were first going into the world with our little one, he never needed more diaper changes than when we were out. Therefore, I always carried 2 if I knew I was going to be gone 30 minutes to an hour. Then I carried 1 for every 2 hours I was planning on being gone. This gives you some wiggle room in case things get busy, you won’t worry about “oh no, I only have one diaper left, time to go home” or as I did on several occasions, having to stop your socializing to make a run for diapers and then come back.
3) 1 package of wipes. Wipes are used for more than just diapers, they also clean up sticky hands and feet and can act as face wipes. In fact, you can never have enough wipes and as my son gets older, the package I bring with us gets larger.
4) 1 pacifier. Ignore this if your child is pacifier free, but if you do use a pacifier with your little, always carry a spare. I put mine in a ziplock so that it was kept clean and the ziplock gave it a little bulk so it was easier to find. I learned the hard way that little ones tend to lose their pacifiers and then lose their minds when another one isn’t readily available.
5) 1 blanket. A lightweight swaddle blanket should be kept in the diaper bag, as it has multiple purposes. One, it can act as a covering to a cold child. Two, it can act as an emergency burp cloth. 3, it can act as a cover for a stroller to infant carrier to keep out light and let the little one sleep.
6) Toys. Your child doesn’t need every toy that you have ever bought them. Instead, pick 1-2 special toys for the diaper bag that stay with the diaper bag. These toys will become like new every time you retrieve them from the diaper bag and will begin to create consistency for your little one of what to expect when going out.
7) Feeding Items. This will look different if you are bottle feeding breast milk, formula feeding or breast feeding. For the bottle feeding moms (of either formula or breast milk) make sure you have enough bottles with you for your expected amount of time gone from home, plus one. Always carry a spare. You never know when you might get a flat tire or an emergency. As for breast feeding moms, if you do cover, make sure it is packed in the diaper bag. Supplies for bottle feeding moms might include bottles, an ice pack to keep them cold and bibs. If you rock the two shirt method or don’t cover, don’t worry, you will just have a little extra room. Also, don’t forget to pack at least 2 burp cloths.
8) Medicines. No matter how little or long you think you might be leaving the house, if your child takes medicine always have it with you. You never know what emergency might come up or what happens, but you don’t want to be in a situation where it is time to give the next dose of Zantac for their GERD and its at home on your counter. This includes prescription medicines, diaper cream and any over the counters that your child needs often. You can put them all in a clearly marked ziplock bag, making it easy to find in your diaper bag and keeping them all together.
9) Changing Pad. It doesn’t have to be a fancy changing pad. I was lucky, my diaper bag came with a changing pad that I was able to put down on anywhere I wanted to quickly change my child and know that it was clean. You could just pack a clean towel that you wash frequently as well. So, a clean surface on which to change your child.
10) Love, patience and a sense of humor. Ok, you don’t pack love (or patience, or a sense of humor) but the fact that you are braving taking your newborn out into the world shows that you have these already when it comes to your newborn, but remember, you need them for yourself, as well. You already love your little one and by taking them out into the world, you are showing that you understand that you love them and want them to have new experiences but you love yourself too and realize that your life doesn’t stop or halt because you have a newborn. Grocery shopping needs to be completed, hair might need to be cut and styled, or you might need to find a new outfit at Target. Whatever it is, venture out, but here comes the patience part. You have a newborn and are just learning their schedule, so be patient with yourself when you forget something on this list or when you discover that you really need 4 spare pacifiers instead of one. Being a mom is a learning process and the more patient we are with ourselves, the more learning curve we allow ourselves, the more we realize we aren’t ever going to be a Stepford mom but that perfection is in the mistakes, the better moms we all will be, especially when we can laugh at those mistakes. A sense of humor is always needed when traveling with a newborn, as its easier to laugh when projectile vomit hits the floor 10 feet away (while attempting to clean it up of course) than shrinking in embarrassment. Finding humor will allow us to find patience and laughter leads to love, of self and of baby.
Good luck on your outings. Know, there is going to be spit-up, blow outs, lost bottles, forgotten blankets and missing pacifiers. You are going to have stories to tell, but whether they are told laughingly “you will never believe” or with a sense of doubt “I can’t believe I didn’t …” it up to whether you remember to pack your sense of humor, patience and of course, love.