When a bag can only hold so much and babies require a long list of essentials to be fully prepared, a solid game plan for a diaper bag can mean the difference of a happy, fun outing or more stress than the outing is worth.
After so many bad outing experiences, I finally played around with organization. I made it a point to really asked myself “what do we really need?” I came up with these simple diaper bag hacks that lessened my stress level while out and about.
Diaper Bag Tip # 1: The Bag is Key!
It took three diaper bags until I found one that didn’t trigger me to throw it across the room. I have the Skiddaddle by Skip Hop Backpack Diaper bag, which was a discontinued item that I had found at Marshalls for $20. I love this bag because it is big enough to hold what I need for a long day out, but isn’t bulky if I pack it for a quick trip. It has a nice wide open mouth which is critical when you’re trying to grab something specific. And, the bag boasts a relatively shallow shape because of it’s over the shoulder bag like structure. This makes for less digging to find what you need.
These handy pouches neatly organize all of the bags contents to avoid clutter. The wide mouth is essential in creating an easy to grab situation.
This Skip Hop is also squat enough that it doesn’t tumble when you set it down, which was my biggest complaint about the first diaper bag I got in my registry. That bag was a nice backpack bag as well. However, it was way too small to be efficient and would not sit up on its own. The tipsy nature of this bag was incredibly frustrating. Especially when we were out and about at restaurants or church and sat it down next to our chair only for it to tumble all over the floor.
The second backpack diaper bag I got had the nice wide open mouth. This one I found to be too deep. If I pulled anything from the bottom it wrecked the organization of the whole bag. All too often, I needed that warm blanket or clothes stuffed at the bottom, and by pulling that item out, all the other items came out with it. Not something that you want to happen when you are trying to warm up your baby or change them frantically after a blown out diaper. The second bag also ended up fraying after a few months of use.
Useful diaper bags features
Another important feature of the Skip Hop bag are the stroller straps. Most of the time, my bag ends up in the storage basket of the stroller. If I’m in a situation where I need that space for additional items, setting the bag up on the stroller handle is a wonderful way to maximize the load bearing capabilities of the stroller. The pocket placement is, yet another important feature of this Skip Hop. There’s a couple inside pockets that are super handy for things like wallets and cell phones. There’s a zipper pocket on the front that is great for items that we want kept safe. The side pockets are great for water bottles or the toy that fell on the ground and now is “contaminated”.
The one trend among all my attempts at the perfect diaper bag is the backpack style. I believe that this is completely up to personal preference. I chose this style simply because I like to keep my hands free. This Skip Hop gave me the functionality of the traditional over the shoulder bag with the ease of a backpack. That’s why I LOVE IT!
Diaper Bag Tip # 2: Organization, Organization, Organization
Now, onto organizational tips that save from stress. First off, ditch the changing pad that comes with the diaper bag. I would opt for a more all inclusive option like this Skip Hop changing pad. In it, I store enough diapers for a quick outing (about 4-6 hours), wipes in a plastic holder that the pad came with, and wet ones for myself after whatever happens. Then, when I need to change my baby, I grab her and the changing pad, which keeps things super simple and easy. No fumbling with the diaper bag.
This worked amazingly on our first airplane ride, is nice to have on walks or when visiting a friends house. Sometimes, if I don’t need the trunk of my minivan, I just leave it set up in the back when we go to parks or the golf range. This all in one pad makes for hassle free changing experiences. And, its size makes it compatible with the diaper bag as well.
A quick note: I store the remaining diapers I may need and a pack of wipes in my cars emergency kit. That way I’m never left in a messy situation with no diapers or wipes.
Break it up in pouches
Another organizational tip is the wonder of pouches. My life was absolutely changed when I found this idea! You can actually invest in baby bag specific products. Or, you can see what you already have lying around the house. The diaper bag specific options are pricey, but they certainly are cute and practical. For me, once I saw the specific, pricey option, I raided my lifetime stock. I found makeup bags that came with my free gifts with purchases from Clinique or Estee Lauder, a couple of free small bags that came with a cruise that my family took when I was in college, and some pouches that my dad had gotten while flying business class on a few airlines.
As you can see above, my diaper bag has become a mismatched, hodge-podge array of pouches. Ironically, they all fit together perfectly like a puzzle and each holds a specific type of item.
In the toy pouch, try to cycle out little, engaging travel toys frequently. It’s amazing how many options can be crammed into a small pouch.
I have a feeding pouch, safety and other supplies pouch, toy pouch, clothes pouch, and depending on the day, a food pouch/cooler. That way when my husband needs to find something, he can open the streamline diaper bag, grab the pouch that he needs and easily find what he wants. Also, just like the diaper pad, if it’s a quick outing, I’ll take the pouch of what I need and leave the rest. For example, if I think I’ll need entertainment, out comes the toy pouch. If I’m concerned about my little one being cold, I’ll bring the pouch with clothes and a warm hat.
Diaper Bag Tip # 3: Be Picky and Prepared
Simplicity is key! Yes, the diaper bag has to be prepared for any situation, but we’re not planning for the apocalypse. Think about the priorities. Baby needs food, so make sure that there are supplies feedings. Baby needs to be clean, so having enough diapers and wipes are essential. I also carry Aveeno Baby Face and Hands Wipes for the little messes and a packet of Wet Ones for myself.
I pack a change of onesies just in case of blowouts. As my baby grew, I limited packing to just one or two onesies. We packed three to four onesies when she was little when blowouts were much more likely. I pack warmth (pants, shirt, and sweatshirt) and I usually keep a seasonally appropriate hat and sunglasses just in case.
An entire outfit fits in the clothes pouch incase of messy mishaps or unpredictable weather.
Snack cup, Auvi-Q (epinephrine auto injector for food allergies) and children’s Benedryl.
Include emergency items
In the safety pouch, I carry my baby’s Benadryl and Auvi-Q (the much more cost efficient epinephrine) for her severe food allergies. I keep a thermometer mostly because we spend time at my parents house, and it’s nice to keep that on hand. Also, I include a small bottle of lotion, extra bib and washcloth. I used to keep a boogiebulb in there as well, but as my baby grew, it really wasn’t necessary. Now, that my daughter is one year old and loves her snack, this fold up silicon snack cup is a necessity that I keep in this pouch now. It’s so helpful to stuff some puffs or cereal in. I can easily hand the snack to my daughter in the car or pull it out at a family get together if we need some healthy distraction.
As mentioned previously, I keep a bag of toys that I cycle out frequently to maintain excitement and to also keep up with her development stages. I also have a nursing cover and rag in its own pouch. Soon, when my daughter is fully weaned from nursing, I will remove the nursing pouch all together. Of course, the necessities change every outing, but I always try to make sure that I walk that fine line between being prepared and being overpacked. It’s a vague one.
Diaper Bag Tip #4: Clean and Adapt
Have you ever been cleaning out your car, find an old French fry, and realize that you haven’t had fast food in months? The diaper bag is no different. In the heat of the moment, when we’re on the move, we toss things in hurriedly. If we don’t frequently revisit, reorganize and redo, then we’ll end up toting around pounds of additional stuff that we just don’t need. I make it part of my daily routine. While prepping, I empty all of the unnecessary items as I prep the bag for an outing. I usually try to find time during the wake window prior to our outing. So, if my plan is to leave right after my baby wakes up, we’ll spend the wake window prior packing up the bag together. My one year old loves taking things out of the bag, so we make a fun game of it.
If you’re just in the process of registering for your first diaper bag or staring at your 5th in frustration, know that you’ll get it. Just keep finding ways to make things more simple and more efficient. Be willing to tweak and adjust your system and when you get it, your out and about confidence will soar. Plus, I’m imagining that everything changes again as our children grow up or as we add children. For now, I’m happy with what I have going for me, and I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
Did I miss one of your favorite products? I would love to hear about what you find as a must know diaper bag hack in the comments!
The Mama behind Momma Life 2 the Fullest
Hi Mama! I’m so glad that you are here! My name is Ashlyn and I am a wife, full-time mom and full-time university faculty among other less important titles, such as coffee junkie, outdoor lover, craft and Pinterest enthusiast, energetic traveler, activities planner, and to-do list master. I find that my day sometimes feels like a swirl of diapers, meals, meetings, chores, etc. And, I created this blog as a landing spot to share my experiences and purpose to live this crazy mom life to the absolute fullest.
I was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I was homeschooled for the majority of my childhood, which offered me some unique traveling and cultural opportunities. I earned my degree in English and my Masters degree Instructional Design. Before landing my current, work-from-home job, I also taught in the classroom as a 9th grade English-Language Arts teacher.
When we had our daughter, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to be as present as possible for my little one, so that’s when I found my current flexible-schedule, work-from-home job at an online university.
Mom life is a true gift from God. We were selected to be our little humans mommies, and that is a tremendous blessing and a huge responsibility. This life isn’t meant to just get by. This life is meant to live to the fullest, and our children deserve the most present, life-breathing versions of us.
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