Most diaper bags scream mom. They tend to the pinks and light purples, and more closely resemble an overgrown purse than anything else. One of my first actions as a SAHD was to find a bag that was fit for a man.
There are many options for diaper bags, some small handheld jobs, some that should come with wheels. Some have compartments and zippered pockets, some are simply one big pouch.
1. The bag itself:
I prefer a bag that is not cluttered up with hundreds of little pockets, this is a simple canvas messenger bag. It has one large compartment, with a single smaller zippered pocket. I find that the single pouch approach works well, if you keep your items in gallon freezer bags. This keeps everything organized, easy to take out and has the added benefit of preventing leaks and spills from the lotions that you need to carry. This bag was not made to be a diaper bag, and I think that is why I like it. I carried this as my bag for work for five years before it ever saw duty in the diaper wars.
2. The diaper accessories bag:
This small bag holds everything that is needed for a run to the bathroom with the kid. Having this allows you to fill the diaper bag with food, toys, purchases, and not have to haul everything with you when you have hit the changing station. You want a bag that will fit the essentials, but is not a second diaper bag. This one came on a sheet set, or towels.
3. Changing Pad:
Not only will this give a little padding between your kid and the counter/changing station, it also keeps them from laying directly on the possibly dirty surface. When changing at a friend’s house it also acts a barrier for any leaks that might occur during changing.
What is a diaper bag without diapers? I suggest keeping at least 6 in your bag. This sounds like a lot, but if you keep them in a freezer bag, you can compress them down quite a bit.
There are wipes made to travel, but I find that the closers/lids tend to not work very well. We use wipes at home that as in a soft-sided container, this works great in the diaper bag once about half of the wipes are gone.
6. Dirty Diaper Bags:
These are essential for containing the smell of a used diaper.
You will get crayons at almost every restaurant you take the kid to, just grab them and toss them in your diaper bag. If you are ever stuck at the DMV, a church service without child care, or any situation where the kid might get bored, these are a quiet life saver. (These go in the small zippered pocket, or get their own zipper bag.)
8. Sun Block:
Carry this at all times, even in the winter. Once you take it out of the bag, you will get caught without it in the Spring.
9. Hand Sanitizer:
If you have had your kid for more than a week this one is self explanatory.
10. Diaper Cream:
Especially early on this will be crucial. Again, the minute you do not have this on you, you will need it.
Now this is where we get manly. I have always carried a pocket knife/multi-tool. Really any guy should, because you will always find a way to use it. As a dad this gets even more use. Kid broke something, fix it. No bendy straws, cut a straight one down to size. Fingernails long enough to scratch other kids, file them down. I especially like the Gerber as it can be opened with one hand, and one handed is how you will go through the first few years of the kids life.
Again, keep these replenished. I alternate between chewy granola bars and gummy fruit snacks. Neither suffer from being bounced around the diaper bag, and they both work great when you need to bribe your child to leave the playground, get in the car, come down off the roof.
There will always be items you want to carry that are specific to your outing (beach, zoo, mall, etc.) but these are the essentials that you should always have with you.