Reality Check: Diaper bag essentials

Every parent has a diaper bag. Or, if you’re me, you have THREE. Imagine my husband rolling his eyes. Multiple times. Then shaking his head. Why on earth would I have three diaper bags? Because I’m neurotic and it makes sense to me. Two live exclusively in the cars. I call them the emergency bags.  The third lives and goes with us everywhere.

But back to the bags: They function like a purse, your life goes into it. But what actually has to be there? It depends. Here’s what’s in my bags:

Emergency diaper bags (One in each car):

  • Diapers, 2 for each kid;
  • Wipes;
  • Changing pad;
  • Sunscreen;
  • Empty sippy cup;
  • Small bottle with enough powdered formula for 4 ounces;
  • Infant Tylenol;
  • Extra pacifier;
  • Extra onesie and pants for each kid;
  • Infant gas medicine;
  • Lip balm;
  • Tylenol, Advil, and Tums for parents;
  • Bottle of water;
  • Small package of crackers or cookies.

Call me crazy if you want, but these bags have come in handy. I’ve dipped into them to use sunscreen when I forgot it at home, lost a pacifier on the road, ran out of infant Tylenol while visiting family, and when the Super Spouse had a monster headache and stomach ache at a family party. Just remember to swap out the diapers, spare food, water, and formula every 6 months or so. (Swap the diapers when the oldest child outgrows them. You can always put the smaller kid in the biggest diaper, but it doesn’t work the other way around.)

The Take Everywhere Diaper Bag:

  • Everything from the emergency bag;
  • Hair ties for mom;
  • Tide Stain Pen;
  • Bib;
  • Small toy for each child;
  • Q-Tips and saline solution;
  • Room for Mom’s wallet, phone, and keys;
  • Mini plastic bags for containing dirty diapers while on the road;
  • Thermos for warm water (if using formula);
  • Container of formula with locking lid;
  • Extra clean bottle.

On the weekends, the diaper bag doubles as my purse. Another thing to consider is that you will be schlepping this around with one or two kids at the same time. Because of this, I’m rather partial to backpack-style bags. Or at least ones that have straps that will cross your body.


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