Diapers, Wipes, and Changing Pad
These are must-have items. You don't want to be caught without at least two or three diapers, depending on the age of your baby and how long you'll be away from the house. A travel-size box of wipes often comes packaged with a larger bag or box. Stick those immediately into your diaper bag. (Or if you have an extra set, you might want to stash them in the car.) If you don't have a travel-size hard case for wipes, you can pack a small stack of wipes in a large resealable storage bag. Be sure you have plenty of wipes; sometimes little bottoms make big messes. Most diaper bags come equipped with a foldaway changing pad, but if not, add one to your bag. You may find that you need to change your baby's diaper in places where you'd rather not put her down without one. It's these times that you'll want to reach for the changing pad.
Using plastic storage bags is a handy way to contain wet clothing, wicked spills, and bad smells. You can also recycle your everyday plastic grocery bags, though they won't do much to contain odors.
While it's best to minimize the amount of sun your baby has on his skin, you'll want to keep a bottle of broad-spectrum sunscreen in your toddler's diaper bag. The SPF should be a minimum of 15, and more ideally around 30. Some experts recommend replacing sunscreen every two years because it has a limited shelf life.
Hats, Gloves, Cover-Up
Have everything the season demands. If it's winter, know your toddler will need gloves and a hat. Little fingers can't resist touching snow, and when skin is unprotected, the cold can be unbearable. Pack a sun hat to protect her face and neck from overexposure.
It's smart to keep a couple of swim diapers in the diaper bag during the season. Even when you're not planning on hitting the pool, your child might have the opportunity to play in water. Some parks have sprinklers and wading pools. Or play dates can often move to the backyard, where a water table is set for fun. Be prepared with a swim diaper and you'll never have to sit out.
Bandages, Antibiotic Cream
You'll know a toddler by the bumps and bruises on his body. The term toddler, after all, refers to the way little ones teeter and toddle when they walk. It only makes sense to be ready for boo-boos with a box of bandages and a tube of antibiotic cream.
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Sippy Cup, Bib, Spoon
You'll keep your toddler tidy by always having a sippy cup at the ready. On-the-go parents have more flexibility about what they can offer their child to drink if a no-spill sippy cup is in the diaper bag. For eating away from home, pack a bib and some spoons. Grab the disposable utensils from your take-out diner for a handy solution.
It's a good idea to write emergency numbers, such as poison control (800/222-1222) or your pediatrician's number, on an index card you can laminate. Be sure to put these numbers in your cell phone, too.
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