By Heather Pohlabel
Diaper bags are more fashionable than ever. Many mothers are not even buying a traditional diaper bag, but instead, buying larger purses to carry baby's needs with them. No matter what diaper bag or extra large purse you choose, here a few essential items that you must remember to pack so as to not be caught unprepared.
Extra clothing. Depending on the season or where you live, this will vary as to what you need. A typical Ohio mother knows that the weather changes hour by hour, so a variety of layer able clothes is necessary for everyone, including baby. She might pack a onesie (every mom should have one or two of these in her diaper bag), a long sleeved outfit, a short sleeved outfit, a sleeper, a pair of socks, and a jacket. It sounds like a lot, but babies have accidents that ruin their clothing, and even in the most warm climate, they need clothing on their bodies to protect them from the sun.
Diapering needs. They don't call it a diaper bag for nothing! Don't you dare forget the diapers! When your baby starts stinking up the room, people will be relieved that you have remembered to bring something to change her into! You will need wipes to clean her bottom (these come in travel sizes as well, which is very convenient for not only diaper bags, but different rooms of the house and your vehicle - baby wipes have far more uses than cleaning baby bottoms; they are one of the best all purpose cleaners around!). A nice bonus to the diaper bag is a box of disposable diaper bags. These are small plastic bags that you can place your baby's dirty diaper in to help contain odor. They are usually powder scented to help mask the odor. You will probably also want to have a small tube of diaper rash cream in case your baby has a rash and you forget to grab it at home. Diaper rashes are very painful for babies, so making sure that you have some relief on hand is best. Keep one tube at home and one in your bag. Some mothers like to carry a changing pad or cloth; others don't feel it's necessary.
Food. Depending on your baby's age, what you should keep in your diaper bag in case your baby gets hungry while you are out will vary. Babies who are not eating solids still have needs. Formula quickly goes bad, so taking prepared formula is not a great idea unless you know that your baby will be drinking it right away or you have a freezer bottle cooler with you. If you take prepared, chilled formula, you will also want to keep a bottle warmer with you.
Powdered formula or ready to drink is best for diaper bag. Keeping an empty bottle and a serving or two of these formulas in your bag will keep you prepared. Also keep a bottle of water to mix the powder with, or for you. You need to keep hydrated as well! For older babies, you should keep two jars of food, a spoon, a bottle of juice (unopened baby bottle sized - single serving), and a baggie of puffs, cereal, or crackers. For all babies, remember a bib and a burp rag!
The extra essentials. You're far from done! In addition to clothing, diapering needs, and food for your baby, you will want to bring a long a few more items to keep yourself prepared. With babies, anything can happen, and is much better to be prepared. If your baby takes a pacifier, keep an extra one in your diaper bag. These get lost frequently or dropped in very dirty areas (usually when your baby wants one the most), so having a spare will be a comfort to both of you! A receiving blanket or larger thin blanket will help protect baby if it's windy out or comfort her if she needs a nap while you are out. Always carry an extra blanket. Keeping a toy in your diaper bag is also a good idea. Sometimes your baby would like to be entertained, and whether it is you playing with the toy for her to entertain her, or she is playing with it by herself, you will be happy that you had a distraction packed!
There really isn't any "traveling light" when you want to be prepared to best help meet the needs of your baby when you are out of the house, so be sure to pack your oversized purse or diaper bag with all of the essentials to ensure a better trip, no matter where you go.