Heading out with your baby (for the first or even the 100th time) can be so exciting! If you’re like me, you meticulously plan outfits for max cuteness overload, because you know that everyone will be oohing and aahing at your precious babe. Then comes the packing of the diaper bag.
What do you put in there? How do you prepare for all of the things that could possibly happen? It’s almost as stressful as packing your hospital bag! Type in your search bar “what to pack in diaper bag,” and you'll soon be down the rabbit hole that is Google.
We all know the basics: diapers, wipes, changing pad. As a first-time mom, though, there were so many things that I didn't even think about until I needed them. In my four months of motherhood, I’ve found ten unexpectedly handy items to pack in my diaper bag:
1. Wet bag
Wet bags are a game changer! There are about a million things you can do with them. If you're a cloth diaper mama, you’re probably already familiar with wet bags and carry one around. For those who don't know, a wet bag is a small waterproof bag that zips. I use mine to hold disposable diapers that I can’t toss immediately. I also use them to hold dirty clothing when a diaper blowout happens, and trust me, mamas, they will happen at the most inconvenient times.
2. Nursing Pads
Nursing pads are essential for many new moms. After my son was born, I had two modes: dry or fire hose. I could usually count on leaking, especially if I was in public. Nursing pads save you from having to change the whole top half of your outfit. Our Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads also come in their own super adorable wet bag so you don't have to shove wet, milk-covered pads into some random pocket of your diaper bag.
3. Extra clothes for baby
I know this seems like a no-brainer. Of course, you're going to pack another outfit for the baby. Babies are messy! No. I mean another outfit. We only packed one outfit for the first few months. My son had a blowout at Target, we changed him, and then decided to grab dinner. As soon as we sat down, bam! Second blowout. I don't know how, but he missed his pants entirely, and it went up the back of his onesie. Since we’d already ordered (and we really needed a date night), my four-month-old baby sat topless in a sushi restaurant covered by his blanket. We now pack two outfits.
4. Extra shirt for mom
This is an oversight a lot of moms make. They tend to pack extra for babe, but who usually ends up covered in spit up or breast milk? You. I always pack an extra, plain T-shirt in a neutral color (so I don’t have to worry about mismatched outfits).
5. Hair ties/bobby pins
If you’re like me, you probably have a million hair ties and bobby pins that you can never find when you need them. Like when you're trying to nurse and your baby is more interested in tugging on your hair. I've found that putting a few hair essentials in a pouch or small bag makes life a little easier. As an added bonus, I've also used hair ties to hold up my shirt during nursing.
6. Carabiner clips
If you're unfamiliar, carabiners are the oblong clips that were originally made for safety harnesses. Bless the human who thought to make small ones for other uses! I have one in my diaper bag with a pacifier clipped to it. That way I don't have to dig for anything while my kid is having a meltdown in the middle of Target. I also have one on my Tula that I use to hold a pacifier. So, if your baby uses a pacifier, you need a carabiner. I’ve also found them useful for car keys, hand sanitizer bottles, and hair ties. I have a large one that I clip to my stroller and use to hold the diaper bag or dog leash if we’re on a walk.
7. Hand sanitizer
In a perfect world, you’d get to change your baby at a changing station in a bathroom every time you're out. This is not a perfect world. I've often changed my son in the back of my Jeep and then needed hand sanitizer. Honestly, there have been times even in public restrooms where holding my baby and washing my hands just couldn't happen. Hand sanitizer is your friend.
8. Portable phone charger
During late-night nursing sessions, I use my phone to keep myself awake. I know I'm not alone because I've actually responded to some of you moms at three am on our Facebook page. However, in my sleep-deprived state, I usually forget to plug my phone back in. I started packing a portable charger so that if I'm out running errands and realize my phone is about to die, I can just pop it on the charger and continue grocery shopping.
9. First aid kit
In the Guzman family, we're big fans of first aid kits. You'll find one in every bathroom and car. My husband has a full-blown medical kit in his car; he could be a one-man hospital if someone needed it. We keep a small kit in our diaper bag for on-the-go needs. You can find some for under five bucks, or just make your own with some Band-Aids, gauze, and alcohol pads.
Like many breastfeeding moms, I feel a close kinship with the very hungry caterpillar. Be sure to pack snacks that are healthy and loaded with protein to help get you to the next meal. I've found protein bars to be the easiest, but homemade lactation cookies are also a great go-to and can help boost supply. I also make sure I have a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.
Here's a handy diaper bag checklist with all the necessities, including the unexpectedly helpful extras. Click here to download a printable copy!
Necessity is the mother of invention, and as moms, we learn to embrace the ingenuity! There’s no way to truly prepare for everything motherhood brings, but armed with a diaper bag of these items and a little MacGyver attitude, I’ve found I can tackle most of the unexpected. It's in those unplanned and unpredictable moments that I realize the truly remarkable beauty of what it means to be a mom. So, mamas, what are some of your diaper bag must-haves? Let us know in the comments!