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Diaper Bag Tips and Tricks

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

There was a short period of time after baby No. 2 when Itransitioned from a stuffed-to-the-gills diaper bag to an actual purse. Anormal purse-one that didn't weigh 10 pounds or containcrushed cereal, sippy cups and baby wipes. But now with baby No. 3 intow, I'm back in full-on diaper bag mode, and have the strap indents onmy shoulder to show for it.

Luckily, diaper bag fashion has come a long way in the past fewyears, with even top designers offering their own trendy bags for babystuff. My first bag nine years ago-a big, boxy, black tote-screameddiaper bag. But bags these days are so fashionable it's almostimpossible to tell their main purpose is to lug around diapers and buttpaste.

Fashion aside, the diaper bag is your constant companion, and whenpacked correctly, contains everything you need for a whole day out withbaby. A well-designed diaper bag is a godsend, so here are few things tolook for when shopping for that perfect bag:

- Make sure it's a style that you like. Seemsobvious, but you're going to be carrying this bag for two years, atleast. If you love one that's a little pricey, consider the length oftime you'll be using it, day-in and day-out, and you might realize thatit's worth the extra investment.

- Is it functional? Sure, the thin straps lookpretty, but what happens when you are trying to carry your baby andgroceries, while pushing a stroller? You'll be cursing those thinstraps. You want a style that has different strap options, and ideallyones that you can attach to your stroller's handlebars.

- Size matters. Even my biggest diaper bag sometimesdoesn't feel big enough. Make sure to find a bag that is roomy and hasplenty of pockets. It's no fun digging around for a diaper at the bottomof your bag when you're holding down a squirmy baby.

- Can it be cleaned easily? Babies are messy, nodoubt about it. Having a diaper bag with a wipeable surface is a goodway to go. Coming from a mom who had grape juice spilled all over hergorgeous canvas diaper bag ... yeah, wipeable is good.

- Is it something your partner would carry? If youwant to buy just one bag that both of you will use, consider a moreneutral 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 andwipes, here are some of the most important things in my bag:

- Change of clothes: Having an extra set (or two) ofclothes for the baby is essential when you're out and about. If you'veever experienced a diaper blowout and not had that spare onesie, youknow what I'm talking about.

- Plastic bags: Having a few plastic bags are hugefor when you need to dispose of a dirty diaper, or need to stash dirtyclothes. For added convenience, great little plastic bag dispensers areavailable that you can just clip inside your bag.

- Nursing cover: This is something else you don'twant to find yourself without. Having a makeshift cover such as a burpcloth or your kid's sweatshirt (ahem) sometimes can make nursing inpublic even more awkward than it can be in those first few months. Andif you're not nursing, a nursing cover can offer a quiet place forbabies who are bottle-feeding or sleeping.

- Snacks! Not for baby, but for you. In those earlymonths of sleep deprivation, staying nourished is really important forkeeping your energy up. Pack a few granola bars, almonds or whatever ishealthful and convenient. That infant carrier can feel very heavy after afew errands.

- Hand sanitizer: I prefer hand sanitizing wipes,which I feel clean my hands better than gel when there is no sink insight. If you're preparing bottles or giving your baby a finger to suckon, 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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