As she took a shower, she watched him, carefully strapped into his bouncer chair on the bathroom floor.
She dried herself quickly as he started to fuss for food again.
She nursed him with the damp towel still wrapped around her, and looked anxiously at the clock.
She changed his nappy, and dressed him in a fresh, stripy onesie.
Minutes floated by as she fell into his clear, blue eyes.
She threw on her favourite jeans, a battered pair of Converse, and one of the few tops she had that she could comfortably breastfeed him in.
She quickly fashioned her hair into a messy bun (mentally thanking whoever it was who decreed that this was a legit hairstyle, when in truth it was the laziest thing she’d done with her hair, ever).
She smoothed on tinted sunscreen, a swipe of concealer under those bags, a slick of mascara, and checked the clock again.
As she headed towards the front door, she grabbed the essentials for her day out: the baby bag her buddies from work had given her at the baby shower, keys, purse, and her treasure – The Baby, nestled into his car capsule, eyes half closed in milk-drunk bliss.
Within minutes of arriving at her second Mother’s Group meeting, she found out she’d not put the nappy on properly, and he’d leaked all over that fresh onesie.
At the same time, a kind-looking woman in the group delicately pointed out the vomit mark that started on her shoulder and stretched down, down, down her back.”
Taking in deep breaths and holding back tears, she fumbled around in the depths of her baby bag for a fresh nappy, wipes, and a change of baby clothes.
But her heart sank when she remembered she’d used the last nappy yesterday in the baby room at the local mall, and forgot to put another one in. And that cute striped onesie he was wearing? She’d grabbed that from inside the baby bag this morning, and hadn’t replaced it with another outfit.
To me, back then, this felt like ‘Mummy Fail’ No. 753.
I once again was unprepared and disorganised – and my son was only two weeks old!”
Back then – even though it was only nine years ago – the main source of parenting advice came directly from family or friends.
Internet connections were dial-up only – which meant long loading times and frequent drop-outs – not a friendly tool for sleep-deprived mums who struggle to find time to shower, let alone sit at a computer. And information tailored to women with kids online was pretty limited.
But now, after many, many years of accessorising with my children’s vomit, and about 10,921 minor ‘Mummy Fails’ to my name – here’s the Fox in Flats version of what you need to pack in a baby bag.
Without this list, my ‘Mummy Fail’ score would probably be into six figures by now 😉
This list is like a standard recipe – tweak it to suit your child, their life stage, your lifestyle, and then season to taste.
14 Things You Need in Your Baby Bag
1. Something to change baby on
It’s likely you’ll find yourself changing your precious on living room floors and beds, in grassy parks, muggy public bathrooms, and even the boot of the car. So be sure to pack something to lie them on that’ll keep them comfortable and clean, and that will also protect the surface you’re changing them on – especially important if you’re doing an emergency change on your friend’s new carpet!
Look for a compact, waterproof, foldable, padded change mat for when baby is really tiny, and as he or she gets older, something simple like a sarong or wrap will do the job.
2. At least two nappies
Better to have a back-up (and even a back-up to your back-up) than find yourself high and (not) dry!
3. Disposable Nappy Bags
Handy for dirty nappies and wipes, banana peels, and used tissues, and when they’re older and toilet training, these bags are also large enough to fit soiled underpants and jeans.
4. Baby Wipes
Avoid lugging large, heavy packs around. Instead, look for travel-sized versions, find a re-stockable plastic container that you can re-load with wads of wipes, or include half-used packs in your bag.
5. Hand Sanitiser and Hand Cream
The sanitiser for obvious reasons. The cream because most sanitisers are so drying on your skin. Touche!
6. Nappy Rash or Barrier Cream
Depending on whether your baby needs it, include a sample-sized tube or two in your bag.
Toss in a travel pack for runny noses, teary eyes, and dribble-covered chins.
8. Food and drink
Bottles of water, formula or breast-milk, and little containers of snacks are essential – the type and quantities depending on what stage your baby is at. And look for squeezie packs of baby-food, yoghurts, custards and drinks when you’re in the supermarket – you’ll be surprised by how much room they’ll save in your bag.
Ensure you’ve got water and healthy snacks for yourself too (dried fruit and nuts are lightweight and compact), and stash all perishable food in a soft collapsible cooler bag.
9. Bib, Burp Blanket and/or Scarf
Otherwise known as the ‘Up-Chuck Kit’ it’s all about preventing vomit from landing on the cute little outfits you and your baby are wearing. The scarf is your fall-back cover-up accessory for when the inevitable mess does happen.
10. Small toy or book
There’s no need to overload your baby bag with things to keep them occupied – the big wide world usually provides enough stimuli. Remember, these little dudes are seeing everything for the very first time! But a tiny toy or book can come in handy as a distraction if need be, or simply pass them a set of keys or your phone.
It’s always worth keeping a back-up tube handy in case you forget to apply before you go out, or if you stay out longer than planned and need to re-apply. Make sure the sunscreen is gentle enough for baby, and don’t forget to apply it to your skin too.
TIP: If you’re out pushing baby in his pram, pay special attention to the backs of your hands.
12. Change of clothes
Bottles of milk opening up and pouring over baby. Explosions ‘down-stairs’ that somehow end up creeping all the way up little backs. Entire outfits covered in spaghetti bolognaise. And tiny jeans drenched in pee. Just some of the more memorable messy moments you’re likely to face when you’re out and about with a baby. Pack at least one change of clothes.
13. Lipgloss, lipstick or tinted lip balm
Keep a tube of your favourite lip product in your baby bag as an instant pick me up. It really works.
14. Your mobile phone
So you can message me on Facebook when you’re freaking out – I can at least give you tips for covering up baby vomit marks – I’m well versed in that.
TIP: As soon as you return home from an outing with baby, unpack your bag and replenish supplies. It’ll make for a quicker exit next time.
As time goes on, what to pack for outings with your baby will become second nature.”
Till you get to that point, why not print out this list, or make up your own list of The Things You Need in Your Baby Bag and keep it in a pocket of your baby bag to refer back to?
But whatever you do, wherever you are going, always, always pack a sense of humour.You’re gonna need it.”
Do you have a ‘Mummy Fail’ moment like mine when you were simply not prepared?
And what else do you keep in your baby bag?