We have a non-diaper bag "diaper bag." Meaning that it's a black bag with pockets, but not designed to be a diaper bag. It was actually made by a skateboard/snowboard company. It has a cross-body or shoulder strap and shorter handles, so can be carried a variety of ways.
For short trips that require a diaper, I can throw a few things in a smaller tote bag. My bare essentials are:
Changing pad that folds up. It also has mesh pockets that hold an emergency disposable diaper, wipes, hand-wipes, sunscreen, and burp cloths.
A few prefolds (I just fold them in half and throw them in the bag)
An extra cover and onesie in case of a blowout.
When we have a longer day and carry the big bag, I add:
board book and/or rattle
extra breast pads
A few more prefolds
socks and/or sweater and/or baby legwarmers
2 wet bags
I use the front outside pocket of the diaper bag for keys, wallet, phone, grocery list, snacks (for me) and anything I need quickly -- burp cloth, favorite toy, lipgloss, etc.
The inside main compartment is for diapers, changing pad, wet bag, and blanket
The mesh inside side pocket has stuff for me -- umbrella, nursing pads, comb or barrette, etc. Sometimes a magazine.
The other inside side pocket has baby stuff -- change of clothes for him in extra wet bag, extra cover, etc.
There are also two outside side pockets that fit beverages nicely.
I try to take a little time every morning that I'm primary parent to re-organize the diaper bag and throw out trash. When we return from a day out I always empty the wet bag of any diapers and covers immediately and restock with clean prefolds and an extra cover.
Whether I use a cloth tote or big bag, I don't carry a separate bag for me. I just throw my stuff in there, too.
We have a really nice Diaper Dude that mom bought us when were expecting #2, because it's supposed to be big enough for 2 kids' diapers. I have to say, IME, that this is only true if you have 2 kids in disposable diapers! If we have to go out for more than a couple of hours, our bag is always stuffed to the brim and overflowing out the top. I'm still working on it (particularly the problem of packing two different sized diapers now that we have 2 to diaper). Things I've found that help a bit with this:
- I keep a couple of backup sposies in there; one or two for each kid-- that way I'm not tempted to overpack cloth diapers "just in case." I almost never need to use them. These just live in their own small pocket in the diaper bag, along with a handful of dry cloth wipes (I can wet these if necessary to clean up a really big blowout).
- If I have disposable wipes, I'll keep a small pack in there, but if not, I just wet a handful of cloth wipes and stick them in a Ziploc bag to take with us. Then I can count on the dry wipes as my "backups." I've been known to resort to wet paper towels in a pinch, too, but I don't recommend it.
The things that I tried to always keep in the bag: the backup sposies and dry wipes, a tube of diaper cream, extra diaper pins, a couple of extra hairclips for DD, and a pacifier for DS.
Then, the things I pack for a full day out:
- Because I'm using 2 different size diapers, I typically take a few prefolds, lay them flat and then roll them up. One roll for DD, one roll for DS. Then I throw in 2-3 covers of each size. That's usually more than enough for the day.
- Plastic grocery bag for wet/dirty diapers
- One change of clothes for each kid
- Sweater for DD and blanket for DS if it's cold; sunscreen and sun hats if it's hot
- Bottle of water and a couple of snacks
- Small book or game, if I need to keep DD occupied
- My wallet and keys, in a front pocket, and cell phone, in the bag's cell phone holder-- usually that's all I bring along for me.
- I usually need to bring a sling, which never fits in the bag, so I just drape it over the top of the bag and hope it doesn't fall off. Not a great system, but it's all I can come up with.
I think that's it! I think the most important thing to avoid is overpacking -- especially piles of diapers that you really aren't going to use. I try to remember that I don't tend to change the kids as often when we're out & about, so I can pack a bit lighter and not overload the bag with diapers we won't use. I also don't use a changing pad - they take up too much space in the bag - but sometimes I'll pack a receiving blanket so I at least have a clean changing surface.
One way to avoid tearing the bag apart when diapering is to pack it intentionally. I'll usually layer things based on how likely I am to use them: clothes at the bottom, followed by covers, then diapers, then wipes. Sometimes I'll put one diaper and cover right on top, within easy reach, to avoid digging through the bag during a diaper change. This only works for the first diaper change, of course, but presumably one can find a minute between changes to rearrange the bag a bit to be ready for the next diaper change, right?
Thanks, everybody!! I found a great bag at a thrift store the day that I posted the question about the diaper bag. It's not super huge but it has 3 large interior pockets. 1 pocket holds 4 prefolds, the other holds my keys, wallet and cell and the other holds some wipes, an outfit, a zip lock as a wet bag and whisper wrap as an emergency cover. It's not enough for a full day but it's enough for most outings and not too much to keep stocked. I've been using another big canvas bag that I just load with the kitchen sink if I'm going to be out the entire day.
I need a new nighttime diaper now that DC is too big to wear her prefolds with a doubler at night. I have the doublers and a nice wool cover already. What would you do for around $20? I was thinking of getting 3 hemp prefolds. I was every 3 days so I only need 3 night diapers. Thoughts?