Guest Post by Laura
There are many similarities between packing a cloth diaper bag and packing a disposable diaper bag. First, you will want to consider what will you be using the bag for? Will it be for just the basics, or will you be toting around a bag of cheerios, toys, a sippy cup, your wallet & keys, etc.? If you’re going to carry around a lot of those items, you’ll want to purchase a diaper bag with extra pockets. Mesh outer pockets work very well for bottles and sippy cups!
To start out, you will want a clean bag. If your diaper bag is lined with a polyester liner, I suggest wiping it out with a washcloth with some mild soap. Get out all the crumbs, receipts, gum wrappers, etc. If it is washable, go ahead and toss it into the wash! You won’t want to start out with a diaper bag that isn’t clean-trust me; you don’t want crumbs in your clean diapers! Once your bag is wiped out, or while it is in the wash, I suggest laying out the items that are on the “must-have” list. I like to lay them on top of my bed, this gives me plenty of surface area to see what I have, and it is high enough that my toddler can’t reach everything and throw it onto the floor.
The Basics: What’s the number 1 most important item?
- Diapers, of course! Most newborns use 8 to 10 diapers per day, but as they get older that number can decrease to 4 to 6. My 7 month old is exclusively breastfed, and she uses 6 diapers a day, on average. I always have a minimum of 3 diapers when I leave the house, that’s half a day’s supply for her. Try to figure out how many hours you will be gone. Then, count how many diapers your baby will normally use in that amount of time. It’s a good idea to add 2 extras just incase! **This is why I recommend having extras: When my first daughter was only 4 months old, she was exclusively breastfed and we were using disposables on her (we didn’t make the switch to cloth until our 3rd daughter was born). We went out to eat with my family to celebrate my birthday and my sister’s birthday. As soon as we sat down, she went poop in her diaper. I told my husband to order my drink, went to the restroom and changed her diaper. When I got back, and as soon as I sat her down, she went poop again. This time, my husband said he’d take care of it. Well, I am so grateful he did! We got our drinks and ordered our meals. Our meals were about to arrive and I sent my brother in law to the men’s room to check on my husband. It had been over 20 minutes and I was getting concerned. 10 minutes after my brother in law arrived back from the restroom, my husband returned to the table. Our daughter went through 7 more diapers (for a total of 8 changes), pooping enough to fill each one of them up and make a mess of the changing table! So, although these instances don’t happen often, they DO happen.
- Wipes- whether you’re using disposable or cloth wipes, these are another must-have. When I’m out of the house, I use disposable. I am in the transition of starting to use cloth wipes and finding a routine that works for us. For disposable, I use a travel-sized wipes container full of wipes. If you’re using cloth, average the number of wipes you’d use for the amount of time you’re gone, and add a few extras. You can either wet them with plain water before you pack them into your wipes container, or you can soak them in a store-bought, or homemade wipes solution. The only problem is that depending on how often you use the wipes that are in your diaper bag, they tend to dry out before they’re used, wasting the wipes solution you’ve used. I recommend wetting them with water before packing them into your bag, and if you use a wipe solution, put that into a spray bottle. That will help to minimize wasting your solution.
- Wet Bag-These are so important to have. You won’t want to stick a yucky diaper down in the bottom of your bag, only to have it stink up your bag and all of your clean diapers. I have a small wet bag that is recommended for 3-4 diapers. I can fit 5 in it (and I use pocket diapers). You’ll want one that closes securely and has a good waterproof layer to it. If you are in a pinch, you can always re-use a plastic grocery bag.
- Changing pad whether you use cloth or disposable, you’ll need a good changing pad that’s easy to wipe down and sanitize. These will protect your baby from unwanted bacteria and germs, along with protecting the table (and other babies) from your baby’s germs-and potential diaper blowouts! Consider purchasing one that’s able to be put in the wash right along with your cloth diapers.
- An extra shirt for mom/dad it’s nice to have one of these, especially for formal occasions. You can change out the spare shirt before each outing if you’d like, or pack one that matches most of your wardrobe. You never know when your baby’s diaper might overflow with poo, or when your baby might vomit. You’ll be relieved to have a clean shirt to change into should this ever occur!
- An extra outfit (or two) for baby just as it would be nice for you to change if your shirt got wet due to an accident, your baby would appreciate having a clean set of clothes to change into. My favorite ones to pack are the one-piece outfits. No need to match up shirts and pants/ shorts! A couple pairs of socks, and an extra hat are good to have on hand as well.
- Burp rag Always a must-have. If you use a prefold for burp rags, they can double as a diaper, and even a changing pad should you forget to pack yours!
Those are the very basics of packing a cloth diaper bag. Of course, depending on the number of children you have, you may have to add more diapers or cloth training pants (as I do). Depending on the age of your baby/children, you may want a sippy cup, bottle, bib, toys, or snacks. Outside pockets are great for these items! I make great use out of the outside pockets on our diaper bags!
Laura’s Bio: Laura is a wife and stay-at-home mother to her 3 daughters. She enjoys cloth diapering, bike riding, reading, walking, and arts & crafts.