When I was pregnant with my daughter I spent more time than I needed reading about things you should carry in your diaper bag. It seemed during pregnancy one of the few things I could plan so I went with it. I read list after list about diapers, pacifiers, wipes, extra clothes, food, bottles, personal items and found everyone was equally terrified at being caught without something important
My research paid off because when the time came to take her out I knew exactly what I needed to take with me.
I lovingly packed my bag and took my girl on our first real adventure (out to lunch with a friend so I could show her off) and the first time I needed to find something it all turned into a jumbled mess.
Here I am, a brand new mom, with a three week old baby, in a crowded downtown restaurant and she just won’t. stop. crying. Where is that pacifier?!?!
That day I learned a very important lesson. It doesn’t do you any good to have it if you can’t find it!
CHOOSING A BAG
When it comes to diaper bag organization, choosing a good bag is half the battle. A good bag should work for you, not against you. Think of it as your own personal assistant, ready to hand over that burp cloth at a moment’s notice.
When choosing a bag look for the following features:
POCKETS! Look for a bag with interior pockets. It does’t matter what size the pockets are but make sure you get them. Any bag meant to be a diaper bag will have plenty of pockets but a lot of large purses have them too so be sure to think outside the box. Keep in mind that pockets with elastic closures at the top are great but if you stuff them too full when you pull out one diaper all the other diapers come out with it.
STRUCTURE! Look for a bag with stiff outer fabric and will stand up on its own. There’s nothing more annoying that putting your bag down so you can dig for your wallet and having the sides collapse down on top of it so you can’t see anything inside. Just say no to floppy bags!
HANDS FREE OPERATION! If you’ve got a baby or even a toddler you will need both your hands and most likely additional hands. The best bags offer a cross body strap (removable if possible) so you can have both hands free to chase a toddler or hold a wiggly baby. Note: backpacks are awesome for day trips when you need to carry your supplies all day but not ideal for shorter trips like running errands. Getting the bag off and on your back every time you need something gets old fast.
VERSATILITY! If you’re the type to care about how your bag looks with your outfit choose something neutral. Don’t pick something with pink bunnies or airplanes. Bonus if you choose something that you can use again later after the need for a diaper bag is gone.
TOP CLOSURE! Nothing sucks more than having your bag fall over and all the stuff roll out of the top. Find something with a zipper or snaps. Velcro is no good. It’s noisy, will catch on clothing and doesn’t stay closed very well. Also, avoid the flap style messenger bag. Negotiating the baby and the flap at the same time almost always leads to disaster.
BALANCE! Avoid bags that look like they might be off-kilter. Nothing is more annoying than a bag that falls over every time you put it down. I have one of those…it has a permanent home in the bottom of my closet.
I have a four year old and a two year old. Up until a couple of months ago I was carrying an actual diaper bag but I recently graduated to a nice large purse. As graduation present to myself I decided to buy something nice and new that I could enjoy carrying, looked good and could be used after the diaper phase ended. After many, many months of shopping (and a lot of feeling guilty for dropping $250 on a purse) I settled on a Michael Kors Jet Set Zip Top Tote.
It’s big enough to put all my kid stuff in but small enough for me to carry around even when I don’t have the kids with me (which is happening more and more lately, yeah!). It fits almost all the above criteria with the exception of a cross-body option but the handles are long enough that I can tuck it behind my arm as I walk, still leaving my hands free. The leather is very durable, wipes down easily with a damp cloth and stays surprisingly clean despite it being white.
It has 5 pockets inside, four flat and one zipper. Inside the flat pockets I put my wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, pens, tissues and one of those green Starbucks lid stopper thingies (they always seem to be out at my Starbucks so I keep one in my purse) – everything I need to access often.
It’s big enough to have plenty of room for my changing supplies (pink pouch), first aid supplies and other random stuff (white pouch) and my personal items (Vera Bradley pouch).
When I don’t have the kids with me, it’s also big enough for me to take my planner, tablet, notebook and a magazine but it’s not so big that I would consider switching it out for something else.
It’s a awesome bag, well constructed and absolutely beautiful. Though I still feel guilty for the triple digit price tag I know I will get to use it long after the last diaper has left the bag.
Once you’ve chosen a good bag the next step is to keep all the odds and ends inside easy to find and ready to go – because let’s be honest…when you need it – you need it NOW.
Only carry the minimum in your bag and keep the rest in your car. I have a bin in my car for seldom used items and extra supplies. I keep extra diapers, wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, hats and an extra changes of clothes for each kid. I use SugarSnap Files inside the bin so I can easily find things when I’m in a hurry or wresting a poopy diaper in the trunk of my car.
If you’re one of the awesome people who lives in a walking/mass transit city this isn’t going to work for you very well. I’m sorry (and slightly jealous).
Use smaller pouches to contain items by category. Though the SugarSnap files are great for my car they’re a little too big for my purse. Instead, I use some random pouches that fit my bag better. For the diapers I use a zipper pouch I found at Wal-Mart (it was $3 and comes in a zillion colors), for my personal items I carry a Vera Bradley cosmetic case (outlet mall WIN!) and this small white bag I got from Target (in the luggage section, it’s a reusable quart size zipper pouch meant air travel).Clean out/restock your bag regularly. Once a week take everything out and throw away the food pouch lids, straw wrappers and receipts that inevitably accumulate in the bottom. I try to do this every time I return from a trip but since I know showering isn’t even an option for some busy moms I won’t judge if you don’t.
Have refills for your bag ready to go by the door. For us that’s a bin in our laundry room. I keep extra diapers, diaper rash cream, coloring books, etc there so it’s easy to swap stuff in and out and I don’t have to trek upstairs to get extra diapers when I am restocking my bag.
If you take it out of the bag always put it back in it’s place immediately! Never, EVER just toss it back in. It will fall to the bottom and it will get lost and when you need it you won’t be able to find it. Save yourself the stress and put that passy back in it’s place before you find yourself in a emergency situation.
By picking a good bag and following a few basic rules a disorganized diaper bag should be a thing of the past – because taking kids out of the house is hard enough without having to wrestle with your bag.