The other day  as I entered hour number TWO at my pediatrician’s office (not the normal wait time there, but apparently the staff was dealing with a very sick newborn) I became painfully aware that not everyone knows the ins-and-outs of packing a suitable bag for an outing with their child.

packed diaper bag

Part of my time in the waiting room was spent near a nice father whose eleven month old daughter was playing with my children as we waited. The father has entered the office merrily carrying his wallet  and car keys. (He also brought in a very excited spirit of how he was “Mr. Mom” for the day, tending to a sick child. He listed off about twenty things he planned to accomplish that afternoon while serving as the mom, which ranged from grocery shopping to car washing to stopping by the clothing donation bin. I smiled politely, knowing that such hopes would all die a painful death as he weakly crawled into bed later that evening with only an 1/8 of his tasks accomplished.) He informed me he  was rapidly approaching hour three of his wait time. Despite her seemingly sweet nature, his daughter was quickly reaching meltdown stage. He kept promising her a cheeseburger upon their departure in hopes of maintaining composure, but she was almost inconsolable. As I passed her some Cheerios and a play key chain, I questioned out loud if it was possibly about to be her naptime citing it was time for my own children’s naps. The father genuinely asked, “Do you think she takes naps? I am not sure if she does that anymore.” Oh dear.

Before I attempt to remove the Cheerio from one man’s eye before removing the large teething biscuit from my own, let me say that I have been ill-equipped in many a situation. When my son  was a newborn I was so busy toting around seven spare changes of clothes and countless unused pacifiers, I often left behind toys to occupy him or something for him to snack on as he rode in the Target shopping cart. It only took a few unprepared moments for me to realize that if I planned on surviving this stage of Mommyhood, I needed supplies.

Here’s what I have in my diaper bag 24/7:

*Two sippy cups that are correctly labeled for each child (it only takes one meltdown regarding, “Sister has my cup” to realize that accurately distinguishable sippy cups are a must). I leave the house with these full, however I always know I can find a restroom and refill them with tap water.

*Extra bottle filled with warm water and 2 to 3 extra servings of powdered formula (when I had babies taking bottles)

*Snacks. I always carry dry cereal or Gerber Fruit Puffs in my bag. I usually have a sealed fruit cup thrown in as well in case we end up eating at an establishment that  one child  is not terribly crazy about.

*Diapers, pull-ups, underwear (depending on stage of potty training each child happens to be in)

*Wet wipes

*Books (Typically board books due to their almost indestructible nature)


*Coloring book/small notebook (Sometimes the coloring book gets left behind due to space issues, however a beaten up notebook is always present)

*Sheet of cheap stickers

*Random toy from a kid’s meal

*Travel size magna-doodle


*Old burp cloth

*Wallet, car keys, a good lipstick (one that can brighten up the most haggard of faces), and compact mirror (never underestimate the power that is the compact mirror…one of mine completely entertained Isaac for a hour long flight when he was about seven months old)
Now, it’s your turn to share with the rest of us in order for us all to be prepared in such times of need. What do you lug around in your bag for such times of crisis? What diaper bag do you just completely love right now?
Lynley Baker Phillips is a stay-at-home mommy to two, blogger, former special education teacher, and referee in all major toy disputes. Her writings have been featured in various publications and on her mother's refrigerator door. Contact her at [email protected]

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  1. I think I might be diaper bag neurotic! I usually have 3 diaper bags packed – a small, medium, and large. They all have diapers, wipes, a sippy cup, change of clothes and snacks. The little one usually has a lot of toys and I use it when we go for short trips – the gym, grocery store. Places where he will need to be entertained but not gone for too long. The medium one is for day trips to the grandparents or a museum and usually includes a first aid kit, a couple of ready-to-eat meals, and a blanket. The large one is for overnight trips. Lots of diapers, pajamas, Teddy to sleep with, several changes of clothes, disposable foaming wash cloths,and a first aid kit. Maybe neurotic, but always prepared!

  2. I like to think I travel light, but prepared. I’ve always got a bottle of water (for me or DD), toys, snacks for DD (goldfish & cheerios), snack for me (sometimes I reach my melting point!) and the standard diapers & wipes. I also have a first aid kit that we made in MOPS last year and an emergency supply of pantiliners and nursing pads. You never know what you might need!

  3. I loved the question about whether his 11 month old still takes naps…oh dear is right! Great post. I tend to pack light, but usually have extra of everything in the car. In fact, I am quite certain I could build an entire city with the legos that are on the floor of my minivan.

  4. My diaper bag looks very similar. My bag of choice right now is the JuJu Be Bag – pretty functional. My one “toy” that I now carry is one of those push button book lights. You push the button and it unfolds and the light comes out. My 11 month old is simply amazed by this and is often used during nap time as well. 🙂