Simplify the Diaper Bag {Toddler}

Before I begin, thank you to all who have been praying for G, the student I shared about in Tuesday’s post. He is still in ICU, so please continue to pray! Thank you!

One of my main goals, both in life and on this blog, is to keep things simple. So often we over-complicate things and make life more difficult, time-consuming, mentally draining, or stressful than it needs to be. Sure, some things are worth lots of extra time and effort, but most things can really be brought down a notch or two (or seven) and life can still flow smoothly.

One thing I have really tried to keep simple is my diaper bag. I have a distinct memory from before I had children of a friend coming over to my house carrying her baby in the carseat, her purse was slung over her one shoulder, and her stuffed-to-the-brim diaper bag over the other. She waddled into my house bogged down with all this stuff and I thought “whoa, that looks so exhausting!” I started to look around at moms when I was out and about and noticed that my friend was not unusual; lots of moms were carrying multiple full bags on their shoulders or in their strollers and it just seemed like they had so much stuff with them at any given time. I decided that when my time came to use a diaper bag, I wanted to do things differently.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I’m very to-each-her-own around here. If you want to think through all the possibilities for what your child(ren) may or may not need while out and about and take it with you just to be safe, that’s totally your prerogative and I support you and have zero judgement! For me, I don’t want the weight of heavy bags yanking on my shoulders. I don’t want to have to dig around for several minutes just to find something at the very bottom of my bag. I don’t want to *think* I have something with me but really the bag is too full to easily locate it to be sure so I just leave my house and then when I need that item, come to find out it’s not actually in there at all. I want things to be simple, streamlined, and easy on my shoulders and back. I want to have what we need while out and about without carrying half my house everywhere I go.

Each stage of LJ’s life has required different necessities. I’ve previously shared what was in my newborn diaper bag and then my infant diaper bag. Today I wanted to share how I’ve updated what I carry now that LJ is a toddler. And I want to emphasize again: every baby and mama are different! This may not be the perfect diaper bag for anyone else but it is what works well for us!

Check out this post to learn more about the diaper bag I use. I love its simple, clean look and minimal-ish use of space and pockets!  I use the word “minimal-ish” to describe my bag and list of essentials because there are a few things included that aren’t really needs but sure do come in handy. I also link to a few items; I don’t get any compensation for this but just wanted to share products that have worked for us.

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Toddler diaper bag essentials (plus a few extras)

The front compartment is still my “mom” compartment and this pocket really hasn’t changed much over time. I still keep the same items as before: my wallet, checkbook, 1-2 pens, headphones, chapstick, hand sanitizer, a snack, hair tie, gum, and a sunscreen stick for LJ and I.

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The back compartment remains exactly the same as before and is still used exclusively for diapering needs. I keep 4-5 diapers, wipes in my wipes clutch, a changing pad, diaper cream, and a diaper bag dispenser for super stinky ones.

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The main compartment is where the big changes happened. I do still carry a burp cloth because every now and then he will throw up (usually just if he’s straining hard to poop – TMI?) and it’s handy to have. I changed up the books/toys to be ones he is more into as an active toddler. I have a bib and a silicone placemat that we can put on a table at a restaurant so he could pick up food and not be touching the surface of the table. I also now carry around a spoon in a case which is super helpful. Also, there is nothing worse than a hangry toddler so I always carry around a variety of non-perishable snacks like food pouches, a dry snack in a container (goldfish, animal crackers, Cheerios, etc) and a straw sippy cup.

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In addition to these items, I still carry a muslin blanket and a flannel blanket (although once the weather warms up for good, I’ll probably nix the flannel blanket). I  still roll my items and store them vertically so I can see almost everything at a glance and grab what I need without much rummaging. In the back pockets of this main compartment I keep the food pouches, spoon +case, bib, placemat, and a pacifier on a clip.

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You’ll notice I don’t carry around a change of clothes anymore. I honestly can’t even think of the last time he actually had a diaper blowout or ruined his clothes while we were out and about. The bib prevents most food spills and I’m not really worried about it if he gets dirty while playing outside. It just felt like a waste of space to carry around extra clothes that literally never got used. Once we start potty training and expect accidents, of course I’ll start carrying extras again. But for now, it makes sense to use the space for other things.

A few of my extra tips:

  • I try to regularly check the diaper bag at home to make sure it’s ready to go. Having extra space in the diaper bag means there is room for other things to get put in there (such as an item we bought while out and about or maybe LJ’s sweatshirt we took off or something). I try to leave the house with the diaper bag back to ‘baseline’ if possible.
  • When I check the bag, I also check the diaper compartment. I try to always have at least 4-5 diapers and plenty of wipes so we never have an “oh no!” moment when out and about and we realize we’re out of these crucial things. I love my wipes clutch because I can easily and quickly add more wipes at home.
  • When the bag is back to ‘baseline’ and ready to go, I store it in the same spot in our kitchen. That way I know I can grab it on the way out the door and not have to worry that I might not have everything I need.

For me, taking less has actually helped reduce stress because I have everything I need and can access it quickly and efficiently without sifting through a lot of extra stuff. The last picture shows that I can really see everything in one quick glance and grab what I’m looking for easily. If you have an toddler and feel like you’re carrying around half of his or her earthly belongings every time you leave the house, I hope this post gave you a few times for simplifying the diaper bag!

What are your diaper bag essentials?

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Simplifying the Diaper Bag {Newborn}

When my son was a few weeks old, I realized that while I loved being a stay-at-home mom, our days got pretty monotonous and long if I took my job title too literally and spent all of our time at home. I soon got stir crazy and longed for a little change of scenery once in a while so I started to look for small outings that he and I could make out into the world to feel like part of civilization again. In order for these little trips to be successful and (relatively) stress-free, a well-packed diaper bag was crucial.

But oh, how the diaper bag could quickly become a chaotic mess.

Seriously, I *knew* babies need a lot of stuff but I didn’t really KNOW how. much. stuff. that could end up being.  I wanted to hit the delicate balance between having whatever my 7 pound baby might actually need without throwing my back out lugging around 70 pounds of his stuff (which only felt like a slight exaggeration at the time). 

After a little trial and error, I struck that balance and it made leaving the house so much easier. Today I wanted to break down what my newborn diaper bag contained in case there is another mama out there trying to figure out how to leave the house without taking half of it with her. I know that each baby is different and each baby/mama is going to need some different items. This might not be the perfect diaper bag for anyone else, but it’s what worked for us!

Tips for Simplifying a newborn's Diaper Bag

First things first, I use this diaper bag. I wanted a backpack style bag so that my hands could be free and I chose this neutral shade so it would go with anything I wore. I love the simple, clean look – I get tons of compliments on the style and people are often shocked it is a diaper bag! I have seen many reviews saying it is too big and “boxy” for small frames. I am 5’2” and it is a little boxy but I adjust the arm straps as tight as they go and it works well for me. My 6’0” husband prefers a slouchy backpack and so he doesn’t love the fit as much through the arms even when he loosens the straps all the way; however, he carries it less often than me so this hasn’t been a big deal.

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I also chose this backpack is because it didn’t have 587 pockets. I know some people want a lot of pockets to store things in a diaper bag. For me,  if I see a pocket, I’m going to want to fill it and as a minimal-ish mama, I didn’t want to be carrying around more than I needed just because I had pockets to do so. So I liked that this one had just a few pockets that I could make good use of. This diaper bag has three major compartments and I’m going to go through what I carried in each one.

Newborn diaper bag essentials (and a few extras)

The front compartment is “mine” and stores everything I need to carry around for myself.

Mama Pocket Items

This pocket contains: my wallet, checkbook, 1-2 pens, headphones, chapstick, hand sanitizer, a snack, and gum. There is also a small pocket in this compartment where I slipped two disposable nursing pads (leaks happen!) and a packet of Motrin. That’s it! It is actually a little shocking to me that this is now all I carry around because my pre-kid purse had m-u-c-h more than this in it, but I have come to find that this is really all I actually need! 

Mama Pocket

The back pocket is for diapering and diapering only.

Diaper Pocket Items

I keep it simple so all I need to do is unzip and peek in to make sure I have what I need before leaving the house. It also ensures that when the inevitable diaper emergency happens, I can quickly access what I need without wasting precious seconds desperately rummaging around. The bag came with a very handy machine washable changing pad that I keep back there. This pocket also contains: diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream,  and this diaper bag dispenser (handy when there is an extra stinky diaper).

Diaper Pocket

The middle/main pocket is where I keep everything else.

Main Pocket Items

This main pocket contains: a muslin blanket, a flannel blanket, three burp cloths, a bib scarf, my nursing cover, 2-3 outfit changes, and 1-2 baby toys.  In the newborn stage, I did not waste precious space on lots of toys. My baby was usually asleep when we were out and about but if he was awake, he was largely entertained by just looking around at people. I stored everything by rolling the items and placing them in vertically so I could see everything in one glance. This compartment also has two small pockets in the back where I stored socks and a hat (due to having a winter baby), a pacifier with clip, 2 gallon ziploc bags (to seal up a messy outfit – blowouts will happen!) and animal links.

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Notice how when everything is stored like this, there is still so much room on top! This is so handy if I’m out and about and there’s something I need to stuff in there quickly (such as LJ’s coat or a purchase from a store).

This diaper bag also comes with an insulated side pocket which we used occasionally when we needed to take along a bottle with pumped milk. The other side has a pocket the perfect size for me to take along my Swell water bottle to stay hydrated.

Side Pocket

That’s it! My minimal-ish diaper bag. I cannot think of a time where I was ever out and about and realized I was suddenly desperate for something other than what I’ve listed. Simplifying my diaper bag allowed me to leave the house with confidence and have minimal stress and wasted time rummaging around looking for things when I’m out and about. Win-win!

A few tips for simplifying the chaos of a diaper bag:

  • Have 4-5 diapers packed each time you leave the house.
  • Use a refillable wipes clutch so you always have plenty of wipes with you
  • Get in the habit of quickly checking the diapers/wipes before leaving the house
  • Take distinctive burp cloths. Someone gifted me three Gerber cloth diapers/burp cloths with colorful ribbons sewn on. These are the ones I take out and about since they are unique and therefore harder to lose at childcare/playdates/etc.
  • Take multi-functional items. My nursing cover doubles as a car seat cover which was a wonderful asset during the winter and allowed me to get two major uses out of one item.

What is one must-have in your newborn diaper bag?