By Jeana Lee Tahnk
There was a short period of time after baby No. 2 when I
transitioned from a stuffed-to-the-gills diaper bag to an actual purse. A
normal purse-one that didn't weigh 10 pounds or contain
crushed cereal, sippy cups and baby wipes. But now with baby No. 3 in
tow, I'm back in full-on diaper bag mode, and have the strap indents on
my shoulder to show for it.
Luckily, diaper bag fashion has come a long way in the past few
years, with even top designers offering their own trendy bags for baby
stuff. My first bag nine years ago-a big, boxy, black tote-screamed
diaper bag. But bags these days are so fashionable it's almost
impossible to tell their main purpose is to lug around diapers and butt
Fashion aside, the diaper bag is your constant companion, and when
packed correctly, contains everything you need for a whole day out with
baby. A well-designed diaper bag is a godsend, so here are few things to
look for when shopping for that perfect bag:
- Make sure it's a style that you like. Seems
obvious, but you're going to be carrying this bag for two years, at
least. If you love one that's a little pricey, consider the length of
time you'll be using it, day-in and day-out, and you might realize that
it's worth the extra investment.
- Is it functional? Sure, the thin straps look
pretty, but what happens when you are trying to carry your baby and
groceries, while pushing a stroller? You'll be cursing those thin
straps. You want a style that has different strap options, and ideally
ones that you can attach to your stroller's handlebars.
- Size matters. Even my biggest diaper bag sometimes
doesn't feel big enough. Make sure to find a bag that is roomy and has
plenty of pockets. It's no fun digging around for a diaper at the bottom
of your bag when you're holding down a squirmy baby.
- Can it be cleaned easily? Babies are messy, no
doubt about it. Having a diaper bag with a wipeable surface is a good
way to go. Coming from a mom who had grape juice spilled all over her
gorgeous canvas diaper bag ... yeah, wipeable is good.
- Is it something your partner would carry? If you
want to buy just one bag that both of you will use, consider a more
neutral design that any caregiver would be comfortable carrying around.
Save the bright florals for another time.
Now that you have an idea of what kind of diaper bag to choose,
what about what to put inside? Aside from the givens such as diapers and
wipes, here are some of the most important things in my bag:
- Change of clothes: Having an extra set (or two) of
clothes for the baby is essential when you're out and about. If you've
ever experienced a diaper blowout and not had that spare onesie, you
know what I'm talking about.
- Plastic bags: Having a few plastic bags are huge
for when you need to dispose of a dirty diaper, or need to stash dirty
clothes. For added convenience, great little plastic bag dispensers are
available that you can just clip inside your bag.
- Nursing cover: This is something else you don't
want to find yourself without. Having a makeshift cover such as a burp
cloth or your kid's sweatshirt (ahem) sometimes can make nursing in
public even more awkward than it can be in those first few months. And
if you're not nursing, a nursing cover can offer a quiet place for
babies who are bottle-feeding or sleeping.
- Snacks! Not for baby, but for you. In those early
months of sleep deprivation, staying nourished is really important for
keeping your energy up. Pack a few granola bars, almonds or whatever is
healthful and convenient. That infant carrier can feel very heavy after a
- Hand sanitizer: I prefer hand sanitizing wipes,
which I feel clean my hands better than gel when there is no sink in
sight. If you're preparing bottles or giving your baby a finger to suck
on, you want to make sure your hands are germ-free.
There's a lot to stuff into that bag, but with the right bag and the right stuff, you'll be good to go.
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