1. The Diapers
These are item number one. Without them, you face a very nasty and desperate future. When packing your diaper bag, always try to keep at least three diapers on hand: One for the norm, two for the accident, and three for the friend who forgot number two. Always have these three diapers in stock and consider adding more for longer days away from the house or for travelling.
2. Diaper Wipes
You would think these would be packed synonymously with diapers, but I have seen too many a time a mother with plenty of diapers and not a single wipe. Maintain a travel size packet of wipes at all times. These will not only serve during changing, but also cover dirty hands and sticky faces. Always keep a travel size pack stocked and ready to go.
3. The Extra Outfit
Life throws curveballs and there is nothing more pitiful than a long period of time in a spit-up scented onesise. Always keep an extra outfit on hand. This outfit should not be that adorable dress with matching hat and handbag; choose instead a plain cotton onsie and matching shorts (or long sleeved with pants for colder weather). These will not only travel better, but they will also take up less space. If your child is wearing them, also include a pair of shoes. Also, if your child is still in infant stage, pack a simple t-shirt for yourself; spit-ups happen.
4. The Changing Pad
These pads are imperative to multiple-location changing. These pads will reassure your confidence in the gas station bathroom or mini-van back seat as far an sanity goes. They beat out blankets with their water proof feature (in many portable models), ensuring that you do not have a soiled cloth riding in your bag. That is one odor you will never ever be rid of.
Always be sure to have edibles on hand. While your baby is still not on solids (if you are not breast feeding, or if you use a pump) always have a bottle prepared. Most diaper bags come with a side pouch for this function. This particular item takes a little more trouble and forethought to keep up with since it cannot simply be left until needed. Prepare bottle ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator. This way you will always have one on hand. Also, remember on hot days to switch the bottle from the exposed side pouch to the interior compartment to keep it cool and fresh; make sure that it securely sealed. This rule applies to solids as soon as your child is ready. A sealed bag is a must; keep an eye on your perishables.
6. Small Toys
You should always have a small selection of toys on hand for your tot. Some of my favorites to stock are: a pacifier, small cars (type depends on age), and a small stuffed animal. These should not take up too much room, but the afore mentioned were very serviceable in my mother’s diaper bag. They should also be quiet.
7. THE SANDWICH BAGS
I cannot stress the importance of these. They can be used for soiled clothes, unfinished snacks, changing related trash, and much more. Keep a good number sealed in one bag (i.e. put six folded into one sealed bag) and they will not take up a lot of room. These are the most versatile weapon in your bag.
Have two on hand at all times.
9. First Aid Kit
This need not be a fully stocked EMT bag, a simple palm sized case with band aids, gauze pads, and mild antiseptic should suffice. If your childe have severe allergies (or seasonal) be sure to include the proper precautions.
10. Extra Space
Do not over crowd the bag! An over-prepared over-stuffed bag will make everything inaccessible. Leave a little wiggle room in the main compartment and consider have a free outer or secluded compartment for messy situations.
With these 10 essentials, you can avoid the dreaded Murphy Law; just let him try and stop you now.