Diaper Bag, Do you think you can ONLY cloth diaper at home? Well, think again . . . it is just as easy to carry cloth diapers in your diaper bag as it is to carry disposables; maybe easier! You will not need a life-size duffle bag to manage it either.
Before anyone begins to think about “how they could possibly cloth diaper away from home" lets first deside what is a must in any diaper bag, no matter what kind of diapers you choose. So go grab your bag - what's in there? Do you really NEED everything in there? I doubt it. So lets make a list, what are the things you NEED??
When Packing your diaper bag you need:
* Diaper covers (if you're not using AIO's, AI2's, Pockets or disposables)
* Wipes (with a wipe mix in a squirt bottle if your wipes are not prewetted)
* Changing Pad
* Burp Rags
* Pins or a Snappi (if you're using prefolds)
* A wetbag (or somewhere to store the dirty cloth diapers)
We as parents have a horrible tendency to throw everything into our diaper bags because as mothers, we all suffer from the worrisome “what if's" (i. e. , what if your baby gets a fever, what if your baby poops more than 8 times in one hour, etc. ) But can't we all honestly admit that we need a lot less than we think. With decreasing our diaper bag's contents we can not only cut down on the size of diaper bag we might need, but also the weight on our shoulders.
Along with the list above , it is true that we all will often “accessorize" with a few additional items like:
* a change of clothes for baby (6 months or younger usually)
* possibly a drool bib or a regular size bib (for a toddler)
* a cup or a bottle (for toddlers or babies not breastfeeding)
* Ointment or powder (if your dealing with a rash, or a kid who loves powder)
* If you're like me and refuse to carry 2 bags, you will need a few “mommy" items as well - like your wallet, pen, lip balm, and keys.
OK so, are you ready to dump your current bag and take a look at what's really IN there? If your like me, your diaper bag needs a GOOD cleaning at least once every week. I am always finding those ear rings I lost, the nursing necklase I swore I took off in the bathroom, bubble gum or candy put in there by my older (very well meaning) daughter and trash, there's always trash! Now, why its all cleaned out, why not give it a good wipe down or a throw in the wash machine?!
So next step is beginning again. . . are you ready?!
First step is - DIAPERS (that's what a diaper bags all about right?!) So lets ask ourselves these 3 important questions:
* How many diapers/covers do we REALLY need? See what word is most prominate in this question? Yep you guessed it, its that word REALLY. When you first begin with cloth, you might think you really DO need, TONS of cloth diapers (or any diaper for that matter). Which frankly, you just don´t. When you have a good quality cloth diaper you really CAN get away with 3-4 cloth diapers and 1 cover per 4-6 hour trip. One single trip to the grocery store does not warrant 3 cloth diapers!
Bottom line . . . what is the worst that can happen? You have to come home earlier? That isn´t always a bad thing for mommas like me that feel an urgency to FINISH the “To Do" list all in one outing in spite of screaming children, runny noses, headaches and red lights that take FOREVER to change while your 2 year old grunts at every little thing. Give everyone a break. .
* What KIND of cloth diapers do I need/want? Well, obviously you'll use the KIND of diapers that are in your diaper “stash", but many of us have several different kinds our “stash´s", so this can actually be the question to answer. Where are you going? Where will you be changing your little one? On your lap? On a diaper changing table? At your friend´s home? On the floorboard in the back of the mini-van? See what I´m saying? The WHERE makes a difference. Be easy on yourself - this isn´t your organized, home based changing system - it could very well be the lap you've created while perching on a toilet in a very nasty public restroom (in which case the floorboard of a car is actually much better - if not in motion and parked securely in a parking lot). Bottom line. . . Depending on where your going to be, AIO´s for a wiggling toddler, might be a good choice. A prefold already folded, or a pocket diaper already stuffed, can be your best friend in these situations!
* Who will I see there? Okay, this is for those like me, that are interested in scoring converts and just talking about cloth. We all have our favorites, our cutest, our easiest, etc. . . if you know you are going to be around a momma that is considering cloth diapering or MIGHT consider it, don´t take your rattiest, most worn dipes - or at least, not in the top of the bag. I totally do this, I always save my “cuttest" diapers for those trips to the doctor or the mall, and always make sure to change in a populated area!
Next step: - wipes and waterproof bags:
There are basically two styles of baby wipes from which to choose. You can go with your commercial (throw-away) baby wipes or your can choose to use cloth baby wipes that can fold into the same plastic container (or put in a waterproof wipe bag). The way I look at it is if I am washing cloth diapers away, why not use a cloth wipe? Why do I feel this way? Well, outside of the environmental issue, commercial wipes are not recycled they are basically wet paper. As much as they try to “texture" them to help grab at those sticky poopies; they are basically still wet paper. Whereas cloth wipes have true texture - my favorite are soft baby flannel on one side and baby terry on the other. The terry grabs up anything within its loops and the flannel side does the best clean up job. Not to mention your cutting out a whole step, no need to find a trash can to place your wipes in BEFORE you put the rest of the diaper in your waterproof bag. Cloth wipes are just as easy to use and are literally the ´work-horses´ at cleaning a babe's bum.
As you see, I did mention that you should place your cloth diapers in a small waterproof bag. (Depending on how many children you have. ) A tote that measures about 9 x 12" is a great daily outing bag that can easily hold 3 diapers of any size until you get home to either wash them or place in your pail till wash day. Most waterproof bags can be tossed into the washer too - leaving you a completely washable system. Remember that bringing home soiled diapers doesn´t take up any more space than taking fresh diapers and an empty waterproof tote. Still the same amount in the bag, just ´used´ as opposed to ´fresh and ready" for baby´s bum.
Last Step - changing pad and burp rags. These are two things you never need unless you don´t have them. So go ahead and pack them already! Changing pads do not have to be the huge to work. For the most part it is their bottom that needs the most protection from exposure to public changing tables and the like. Though if your like me, you want there head to be on it as well. In some situations, your also being kind to other parents as well as a clean gesture to protect the changing tables from YOUR child´s unanticipated blow-outs. Which other mommas WILL love you for, as they don't find that so enchanting when you are long gone and they discover your child´s creation. However, there are substitutes to the standard foam covered changing pad or the rough/pilly changing squares sold in your local baby sections. We make awesome changing pads, you can also use a clean prefold or baby blanket will work!
Simple Tips for downsizing your diaper bag while still remaining prepared:
1. Buy a smaller bag. It's just that simple if you have a smaller bag, you CAN'T end up with an overstuffed bag, because the space won't allow for it.
2. Hook your diaper pins together and attach them to the top of the top diaper in your bag. This ensures that they remain together and where you can see them (so you don´t have to fish them out one by one in the bottom of the bag).
3. Recycle - use your peri-bottle from the hospital to hold your baby wipe mixture to wet your cloth baby wipes (if you choose to use cloth wipes). Not only will the top pop down secure, but they are taller and trimmer than most squirt bottles.
4. Look for a diaper bag that has a smaller, separate pocket for your personal items (either inside the bag or outside, make sure this pocket has a way to close) so you don't have to dig around at the bottom of the bag for keys, your lip balm/lipstick, wallet, pen, sunglasses. .
5. When carrying an extra change of clothes - consider carrying a simple onesie that will pack down easily - or something that would interchange with what the baby/child is wearing without completely redressing him/her. You could also consider leaving a change in the car on a regular basis, then it´s there if you need it but not making the diaper bag more bulky.
6. Limit the number of diaper covers you need by taking diapers that fit snug (not tight) in the waist and thighs. If using prefolds, secure with diaper pins or a snappi to contain any blow-outs. This will keep your cover cleaner for longer.
7. Finally, don´t even consider a diaper bag that requires you to unsnap, untoggle and then unzip to get to the main portion. Your diaper NEEDS to be as easy access as possible! I frankly like a diaper bag that has NO closure´s except for one at the top of the pocket for “my stuff. " I HATE having the baby in one arm dirty and have to “un-do" everything to GET to what I need!
Jennifer Sprague, co-owner of High Top Baby Designs . She has several years of teaching experience, working with infants through adults and has a passion for helping children live happy, healthy and secure lives. Jennifer has been a nanny, daycare provider, teacher, and is currently studying to become a Doula and a Lactation Consultant. She enjoys spending time with her two wonderful children, Aubrey and Zachary. Jennifer is also an advocate for peaceful parenting everywhere she goes. © 2005 High Top Baby Designs. All rights reserved