Between diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, snacks and the mandatory two changes of clothes, moms and dads are lugging a lot of extra baby weight. Unfortunately, diaper bag needs are not limited to babies. Well beyond the toddler years, parents are still carrying much of the above "just in case."
Moms might be tempted to remove everything not essential to diapering just to lighten the load.
But don’t forget: A smartly stocked bag has rescued many a parent from a sticky situation. So, in addition to two diapers, a small container of wipes, one lightweight change of clothes and a small snack, here’s what every diaper bag needs.
It’s surprising how many places—including parks, zoos and stores—don’t have functioning drinking fountains. By carrying your own, you never need to worry about mixing a bottle of formula or watering down juice. Salvation is in the bag.
Water also comes in handy for scrapes and scratches. Did you know that "Mommy’s Magic Potion" can cure scraped knees and head bumps? Dab it. Pour it. Let a teething child gum the bottle. The possibilities are endless.
Paper, pen, crayons
These items can buy precious time in awkward situations. Stuck at the train tracks? Fidgety in church? Losing patience in a waiting room? Nothing beats pen and paper. Draw pictures. A child with her own "notebook" can create and play a new game in each setting.
These objects also come in handy for jotting down the name and number of the nice mom you met at the park.
Photo opportunities lurk behind every corner, not just when you dress your kids up for a special outing. Be ready because great pictures happen in unlikely places. Brothers sleep head to head in the back of the minivan. Snap. Your sweet little girl has smashed the complimentary grocery store cookie into her hair, ears and nose. Snap. And, who knew your kids would decide to jam with the folk musicians at the farmers market? Snap.
If you’re not comfortable throwing your $300 digital camera in the bag with goldfish crackers and milk bottles, try a disposable camera for everyday travel.
Quart size work great for a variety of objects. Use them to hold the change of clothes, the camera or the paper and crayons. Plus keep a few empties in the bag. Obviously they work great for holding soiled clothes. But they also come in handy when you need to throw away a disgustingly dirty diaper in a public place.
Baggies can help organize the collections and many small plastic objects that seem to accumulate with children. Your daughter is eager to take home the pinecone collection she gathered at the park. Bag it. You need to stash the Pokemon cards your son insisted on bringing to Grandma’s house. Bag them. Can’t finish your snack at the museum? Bag it.
Once you return home, simply empty, rinse and reuse.
Alena Murguia is the mother of Patrick, Connor and Matthew and works part-time for Chicago Parent.