Six months ago, if you asked me the question “what was in a diaper bag?” my response would have consisted of exactly 1 word and 2 syllables: “Diapers.”
Six months of parenting experience later, I realize how naive that response was. There are many essentials that make up the necessary kit required for successful trips to local shopping malls, grocery stores or playdates.
Here are my Top Ten Essentials for Every Tactical Diaper Bag:
1. The bag itself. This may seem obvious, but remember the kit mommy carries will differ from daddies. While a pink polka dot oversized purse decorated with holographic Hello Kitty decals and rainbow tailed My Little Pony buttons may work for mommy playdates, it can result in awkward silences when a couple of dads meet up for lunch in a public place. A “tactical diaper bag” with more functional aesthetics, will create a more “manly” appearance and help prevent testosterone levels from dropping to danger levels. Mission Critical and Tactical Baby Gear are both manufacturers of high-quality tactical baby apparel, or purchase a standard outdoors backpack and outfit it as you wish. Pictured is a bag I purchased from Yukon Outfitters and “decorated” myself.
2. Diapers. Once again, an obvious response, but keep in mind that babies can go through multiple diapers in a very brief period of time! Also, keep in mind that babies grow and you’ll need to replenish your inventory with the right size. Having a little one with a liquid diet only poop and a bunch of super tight diapers is a horrible combination and brings us to the third item on our list.
3. Backup outfits. Notice I used the plural term and not singular (don’t forget socks & bibs!) Sometimes a onesie cannot (and should not) be salvaged. Think of a blown out diaper as a bad free agent signing by the Matt Millen era Lions, sometimes they just need to be cut loose and tossed aside.
4. Lots & Lots of Baby Wipes. Think of baby wipes as the Bad Boys era Joe Dumars of your kit: fundamental defense and always there when you need them for the dirty work. I prefer the Costco brand and Zip-locking rationed amounts in the diaper bag. You can never have too many and as long as you keep the Zip-lock tight, the shelf life is pretty long.
5. Puppy Wee Pads. Don’t laugh, these are awesome! Unlike women’s bathrooms, where changing stations are staples, a men’s room Koala changing station in some cities is about as common as spotting a unicorn (looking at you Birmingham). Puppy pads give you the flexibility to turn any surface into a disposable changing station. Also, they’re great on some of the not hygienically maintained Koala stations as well.
6. Padded drop cloth. As previously mentioned, when using a public men’s room in a city not known for having changing stations you may need to use a wet cold hard counter to change. During winter time, this surface can be especially cold. Using a pad underneath the puppy pad adds a warm thermal insulation, as well as cushion for comfort and safety. I like the Drop Zone from Tactical Baby Gear for its convenient foldability.
7. Disinfectant wipes. Babies put everything they can find in their mouths. They really love the taste of toys that have extra flavor from being dropped on the dirty floor. This is something else that can be extra problematic during slushy winter days. Having wipes allows you to wash the toys on the go without access to a men’s room.
8. Provisions. Whether it’s formula or breast milk, an extra bottle (and solids if your baby is old enough) is vital to have in your kit. Unexpected backups on I-696 or construction delays on M-5 can and will throw off your planned timetable and having provisions on hand is a must!
9. Favorite Toy. In our case, it is a little ferris wheel type thingy that suction cups onto a table. For whatever reason, this toy holds Grayson’s attention like no other. To the point that I just went out and bought 2 additional identical units because I had a nightmare Grayson broke his and the manufacturer discontinued the product. If you have room in your bag, try to keep a couple toys available so you can rotate them and prevent them from getting “stale”.
10. Pocket knife. Before anyone reading this freaks out, this is not for baby to play with, it is to make your life easier. You know how sometimes a new child’s toy will come packaged with so much plastic that it might as well be Han Solo in Carbonite and nothing short of a pitchfork or jack hammer will get it out? Well that is one example where a small pocket knife will come in handy. Another could be that cutting off that unsalvageable onesie we referenced earlier. But don’t go Rambo with this! Beyond safety concerns, many cities have laws preventing collapsible blades over 3 inches.
Honorable Mention: Buy Buy Baby 20% coupons. Hoard these things as if they will one day become the currency in a futuristic land, because that is basically what they are. They also are great for the ante on Daddy Poker nights.
Honorable Mention To Avoid:
Pee-Pee Teepee: If your diaper bag were the 2003 NBA draft, Pee-Pee Tee-Pees would be the Darko Milicic of baby accessories. Great idea on paper but about as useful as a black Hi-lighter in the real world. The concept is nice. A thick piece of cloth that steeples over baby boy’s private parts to protect you from getting peed on, but your baby will easily kick it away repeatedly while laughing at you for drafting it in the first place.
What is in your tactical baby bag?