Susan is an American expat living in London. A former lawyer, she is now an adventurer extraordinaire, trailing spouse and mother to two daughters. You can catch her sharing her experiences on her blog Smartly Momming.
Today, Susan shares her expert advice on how to cut the fat when it comes to what you’re carrying in your diaper bag. Obviously there are some diaper bag contents we can’t live without like diapers (duh) but, seriously, do you need all of that stuff you’re schlepping around?
Does your diaper bag look like this?
I am here to tell you that truly you can raise a child without all the stuff! Here’s what I carried with me while my kiddos were young, organized by duration of excursion.
1 hour or less:
Just the baby!
What could your child possibly need in an hour? If there’s a poopy diaper situation, go home! Much more sanity to change her there than on the sink counter of your local supermarket.
A few wipes
NOTE: All have high usefulness-to-bulk ratios. No child poops more than once in that time, and the extra diaper is insurance. The swaddle multi-tasks as a cloth to wipe off spit up, a sunshield and a changing pad. If you’re not breastfeeding, formula can be handy, as can sippy cups with water for toddlers.
What, no changing pad? How often do you really need one? Maybe one in four trips? Low probability of use, high bulk factor. Plus, they’re super-germy. Much better to clean off a public changing station with a wipe and some hand sanitizer and stick a blanket underneath your child. If you skip the first step and plop down the changing pad, those germs just go right back into your diaper bag and onto whatever you’ve got in there. Pretty gross, right?
What about snacks? Sorry, I just can’t. Call me lazy. Snacks are bulky, inconvenient (who remembers to buy those little packs? Or put actual food into baggies?) and MESSY. Worse, once you pack a snack, you need something to clean up that snack. True, food placates your little muffins, but once your kids get a hankering for intra-meal noshing, you’re tethered to the Fruit Roll Ups until teenage years. These past four years, I have neglected my parental obligations to carry snacks for my two daughters. This equals more than 450 days of excursions… all snack free. The four-year-old has not keeled over in hunger yet, and she ate all her dinner last night. So far no signs point to starvation. And the little one? Well, her adventurous eating antics get their own Instagram tags (#thethingssheeats). She knows no limits. Even I won’t eat squid ink risotto.
5-12 hours – and car trips:
One diaper for every three hours
Burp cloth, swaddle blanket
Change of clothes
Wait, change of clothes? Yes. For me, this one was counterintuitive. I mean, how many times do you change your kid’s clothes when you are at home? But adventures are mainly messy and sometimes insurance is the best prevention.
So, what do you think? What are the most useful items in your bag?