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I was ready to give up my diaper bag long before I quit needing it. I loved my diaper bag – I made it myself and it was exactly what I wanted. But eventually I was ready for a smaller, less-of-a-diaper-bag bag. I bought a bag that looked big enough for all my daughter’s things, but it really wasn’t. Because even though she’s not a baby anymore, she’s still a toddler and toddlers need a decent amount of stuff. Eventually I found something that meets my needs well. A roomy Nine West bag that looks more like my regular style than toddler diaper bag. The best part is the divider down the middle. Half mine and half toddler. This really helps the bag stay organized, and I can quickly see what’s inside and what needs replaced. Finding a bag that’s just your style is essential. Once you have it, use this list to make sure it contains everything you’ll need.
- Diapers/Pull-Ups. If your child is potty-trained, that’s great! If not, toddlers can get by with less diapers than infants, but be sure to always carry some.
- Wipes. These are super handy for cleaning up after all sorts of activities. I use more wipes cleaning up messes than I do changing diapers.
- Hand sanitizer. Goes along with changing diapers, cleaning up messes, etc.
- A drink. I love this leak-proof cup. I can throw it in my bag and not worry about a spill.
- A snack or two. We don’t do a lot of snacks, but I like to have something in my bag in case my little girl gets hungry. Some of our favorites are Belvita Bites (cinnamon brown sugar flavor is a current favorite) and Ritz Bits peanut butter crackers.
- A few books or toys. The key is to take things that will interest your child for an extended period of time but are also lightweight because you have to carry them around. I don’t offer these every time we shop but save them for waiting rooms, etc. The last time I took my daughter to the doctor, my little sweetie was asking the nurse a ton of questions and before long the nurse asked her, “Didn’t your mom bring a book for you to read?” (She’s not my favorite nurse, by the way.) There are definitely situations where children don’t have to be quiet, but keeping them occupied helps situations with people like Grouchy Nurse run more smoothly.
- I prefer books with lots of detailed pictures. If there’s a lot to look at or look for on the page, it holds interest for a longer time.
- If your child likes to draw, a Magna Doodle is a good choice. It is lightweight and you don’t have to worry about them marking up other surfaces since it uses a magnetic stylus instead of a pencil (recommended for ages 3+).
It’s helpful to keep an extra set of clothes with you. Not in your bag, but in the car. If your child is newly potty-trained, you will need them. Even if that’s not an issue, there may be times you’ll want to have a dry shirt, or pants that aren’t muddy. I also carry more books, a blanket, etc. in my car. Finally, not included in the list above are items I myself would already carry, such as Kleenex.
FYI – this list isn’t very long. I tried to keep it to just the essentials. You can carry as much as you want, but if you notice your bag’s weighing 40 pounds, it’s time to weed some things out. Use the essentials list to help decide what to keep.
Being prepared when you’re out with a toddler makes the day run much more smoothly. Even great shoppers/travelers can be unpredictable at times, so having these essentials helps keep everyone calm. Comment below if you have other essentials you would add to this list.