I’ve never been the kind of person who carries Advil, tissues, Band Aids, or any other “just in case” item. I’m just not the type. Reaching into my bag and finding a pair of sunglasses makes me feel like I’m overly prepared. Despite my efforts (ok I don’t try all that hard) I’m not a naturally maternal person who has all of the necessities when an out-of-the-ordinary situation arises. Until now . . . kind of.
Having a child has partially turned on the part of my brain that questions whether or not I have everything I need in a pinch. If you look in my personal bag, I still don’t have any of the things I might need in case of disaster, but my diaper bag—completely dedicated to my toddler son—is a different story. Despite the fact that I live in New York City and there is a drug store on every corner, my diaper bag is filled with everything I’d need if my son was hungry, bleeding, covered in dirt, and bored out of his mind all at the same time (which is entirely possible). So I thought I’d share a few of my diaper bag must haves for every mom with a toddler—and I’m sure all of the completely prepared moms out there will have some great suggestions for me!
Diapers. If your child is under three this is a no-brainer. If you’re me, in addition to simply having diapers, it’s important to make sure that you’ve actually replenished your stash before walking out the door.
Wipes. Whether your little one is in diapers or not, wipes are an absolute must. Besides diaper changes, wipes are great for cleaning up spills; wiping high chairs, restaurant tables, or any other icky surface; and they also serve as a great substitute for tissues (since I never have them). Any other creative uses? I’d love to hear them.
First aid kit. Whether you create your own or buy a pre-packaged kit (my choice is the latter), any mom with children who can even attempt to walk solo should keep a small stash of bandages and antiseptic wipes in her bag. My son is constantly falling, so I need to be able to swoop in, Sesame Street band aid in hand, and clean up his perpetually scraped knees.
Snacks. No mom should leave the house without a snack (or five) in her diaper bag. Kids get hungry at the most inopportune times, and it’s best to have a quick fix ready to go—or whining will quickly ensue. My diaper bag is filled with packages of Cheerios, Snackimals (the Snickerdoodle flavor is my personal favorite), and Goldfish, but there is an endless supply of portable kids’ snacks available. Freshly cut up fruits and veggies are of course a great option, but that would never fly with my son.
Water. I always have one of those really mini water bottles (Poland Spring makes them) in my bag, just in case. While I try to bring a pre-filled cup for my son everywhere we go, in the event I forget and water isn’t readily available, I always have back up—and a lighter option than a full-size bottle.
Disposable placemats. I wish I thought of these myself. If you’ve never used a Table Topper, you’re totally missing out. These plastic, disposable placemats stick to the table and have fun-themed designs so kids can happily eat their finger foods on a clean surface. Not only are they great for restaurants, they come in handy any time you need to protect a clean surface from a chocolate-covered child.
An activity. Whether it’s a book, a kiddie computer, a ball, or crayons, I always feel better being out with my son when I have some kind of activity in my back pocket. At 20 months old sitting still is not his favorite pastime, so being prepared with something to play with is always to my advantage. Of course he usually wants to play with whatever is around and not actually a toy, so if salt shakers and spoons keep him busy at a restaurant, I’m game.
Hand sanitizer. New York City is a dirty place. Need I say more?
Money. I switch my bags constantly. During the week my necessities (wallet, keys, phone) are in my work bag, during the weekend they’re in my diaper bag, and if I go out for dinner or run a quick errand, they’re all transferred to a different (smaller) purse. Often I’ll leave one of my necessities—many times my wallet—in the wrong bag, so I like to keep an extra $20 bill in my diaper bag. That way, if I’m out with my son and run out of diapers, wipes, snacks, water, placemats, activities, or hand sanitizer, I can buy what I need in a pinch—just in case.