(But might not realize until it’s too late)
I will never forget buying my first diaper bag. I did no research. I hardly shopped around. I bought the first bag that caught my eye and brought it home as my new prized possession. I couldn’t wait to fill it up with baby gear once my little one arrived. Just prior to the birth of my son, I shoved four newborn-sized diapers and a wipes container into my monster of a bag and then stared – clueless – at the seemingly endless unused space that was left. I scratched my head.
What do moms put in these giant bags, anyway?
Over time, I began doing my research. I realized that there are LOTS of things that moms (and dads!) carry in their diaper bags. In fact, the more research I did, my enormous bag seemed far too small to carry all the things people said I would most definitely need. But did I really need all that stuff?
Since then, I have experimented with hundreds of different ways to pack a diaper bag. I have stuffed every conceivable baby item in there, from first aid kits to sensory cubes. I have had days where no one would have been surprised if I hauled a floor lamp out of there like Mary Poppins. As a result, I have arrived at a list of the top 5 things that are absolute must-haves in any diaper bag. I won’t bother with the obvious stuff like diapers and wipes, because even clueless first time moms like me know that. Instead, let me share with you the items that you have no idea you will need until suddenly you need them and don’t have them. Here we go.
#5: Deodorized diaper bag dispenser or wet bag
If you are using disposable diapers, you absolutely must have a deodorized bag dispenser. These scented little bags are great for getting rid of soiled diapers when you are out and about. Trust me, you WILL get side-eyed if you deposit a dirty diaper in a public trash can without placing it in a deodorized bag. These great little dispensers clip neatly to the inside of your diaper bag and provide discreet (and polite) disposal of soiled diapers.
If you are cloth diapering, a wet bag may be more appropriate for your needs. Wet bags are washable, water proof bags that seal tightly and allow you to carry soiled diapers with you until you get home. To be honest, a deodorized plastic bag would probably work just as well for storing dirty cloth diapers. However, wet bags provide extra protection against leaks (who wants a dirty diaper leaking in their diaper bag?!) and come in loads of adorable prints to choose from. How fun!
#4: Hand sanitizer
Speaking of dirty diapers, be prepared to get your hands dirty. Literally. Diaper changes don’t lend themselves to perfect little bathroom trips with luxuries like hand soap. I have changed my son’s diaper in his stroller, in the back of my Jeep, and on a bench at the zoo. It is with much eye-twitching that I share with you how important it is to have a way to clean your hands when a bathroom is nowhere in sight. Hand sanitizer is your friend.
Bed Bath and Beyond’s PocketBacs make great diaper bag hand sanitizers. They are small, they come in dozens of awesome fragrances, and they fit into adorable Pocketbac holders that add a little sassiness to your diaper bag.
#3: Umbrella or poncho
This one might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many times I got stuck in the rain with my son before it occurred to me to pack an umbrella. You would be shocked by how alarmed an infant can become when water inexplicably begins to fall from the sky. Be prepared. I have found that small, collapsible umbrellas fit great in the bottle pocket of most diaper bags and are super easy to grab in a hurry.
#2: Paci wipes (yes, even if you don’t use pacifiers)
Be ready for your tiny octopus-child to throw anything and everything you give him to the floor. I don’t consider myself to be a germophobe, but it rattles even this ultra laid back mama when something my son puts in his mouth lands on a bathroom floor. Thankfully, there are innovative companies out there that make baby-safe wipes that can be used on baby items, even when they will go immediately into baby’s mouth. For instance, Munchkin and MAM make excellent paci wipes that are chemical free, non-toxic, and 100% food grade.
#1: Power Bank
You have not known sheer terror until you have found yourself out with your baby and a dead cell phone. I don’t really know why, but since I became a mom I seem to drain my phone’s battery much faster than I used to. The thought of being without a phone in the case of an emergency with my son is terrifying and is something that I just can’t risk. I never, ever leave the house without my mini phone bank in my diaper bag. A power bank can give you just enough juice to get where you need to go without the fear of being incommunicado. In addition, if you happen to be a Ju-Ju-Be user, the sunglass holder in the mommy pocket is the perfect place to keep a power bank!
(But might not realize until it’s too late)