Diapers are must-haves. You don't want to be caught with less than four diapers -- that number can climb depending on how long you'll be out of the house and on the age of your baby. Remember: Little babies need more diaper changes each day than older babies.
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 just stash them in the car.) Another option: Pack a small stack of wipes in a resealable plastic storage bag. Be sure you have plenty. Little bottoms can make surprisingly big messes.
Most diaper bags come equipped with foldaway changing pads, but if not, you'll want to add one to your bag -- it will come in handy when you need to change your baby's diaper in a place that you'd rather not put him down without one. When shopping for a changing pad, be sure to choose one with a water-resistant finish for quick cleanup.
A sore bottom can flare up when you least expect it. Be ready to protect his most delicate skin with some cream.
These lightweight blankets take up little space and come in handy if you need to put your baby down for a nap. They're also great for putting over your baby to protect his skin from brisk winds or cool temperatures.
You'll go for weeks or maybe months wondering why you have those extra clothes in the diaper bag. Don't be tempted to remove them. A day will come when you need to clean up a mess worthy of a sanitation crew, and you'll be glad you have them. Pack a shirt, pants, undershirt, and socks. Tip: Remember to rotate these clothes out of the bag as your baby grows. There's no need to carry around a newborn outfit for a 6-month-old.
Bright days call for a wide brim. Some hats even have fabric that will protect the back of Baby's neck. While it's important for all babies to be protected from the harsh sun, be especially careful with bald and fair-skinned infants.
If your baby is younger than 6 months old, keep him out of direct sunlight, dress him in light layers, and use a hat to protect the back of his neck and the top of his head. Apply sunscreen only when necessary. Be sure to read the packaging directions to make sure sunscreen is safe for your baby. Once your child gets a little older, you'll want to slather him often with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. The SPF should be a minimum of 15, ideally 30. Experts recommend replacing your sunscreen every two years because it has a limited shelf life.
If you're nursing, be sure to pack bottles of expressed breast milk in a cooler. If you're using formula, bring a bottle with dry formula already in it, or try single-portion packets. They won't take up much space in the diaper bag.
Whether it's a rattle, something that fits perfectly in her fist, or a mirrored gadget, diffuse boredom or meltdowns by thinking ahead and packing a favorite toy.
Your baby might have a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or lovey that goes from crib to car seat and everywhere in between. Be sure to bring it along to help console him during trying situations.
No matter your baby's age, always pack a bib. It can catch spit-up or keep her shirt dry when endless drool spills down her chin while she's teething. Bibs are available with ties, hook-and-loop tape closures, and T-shirt necklines that you pull over Baby's head
If your baby uses a pacifier, you know how important it is to always have one on hand at all times. Never be caught without one; pack two extra pacifiers in a plastic storage bag.
Be sure to program your cell phone with the phone numbers of your pediatrician, a neighbor, emergency contacts, your spouse, and Baby's grandparents. Keep a laminated index card with this same information in the diaper bag in case you lose your phone.
Make a business card or laminate an index card with your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address in case your baby's diaper bag gets lost. Proper identification will make it easier for the person who finds it to get your bag back to you.
Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation.