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The first trip out of the house with a brand new baby can be pretty daunting. There’s more to think and worry about, and about a million things you need to remember to pack in your baby bag. But don’t fret – the first time can be nerve-wracking, but you will get the hang of it and things will get easier. Sure, you’ll never be 100% ready for everything life (or your baby) will throw (or puke/poo) at you, but knowing what to have on hand can help you manage the inevitable messy situations that come with taking a new human along for the grocery run or a meal out.
In case of emergency…
I’ve been there. Five minutes into the checkout line at Aldi, and your baby starts wailing. You dig into your bag – but the dummy is still in the steriliser at home, or all the snacks were eaten yesterday and you forgot to replace them. You lean towards the pram and get the unmistakable whiff of poo. And what’s that you notice on his leg? Is that a brown stain? Shit. (Literally). You realise the spare onesies you normally keep in the baby bag were used during yesterday’s pooplosion and you forgot to replace them too.
Ah, the joys of going out with a baby. I won’t tell you the number of times I’ve changed dirty nappies and entire outfits in the boot of the car. Or the time I was having lunch in a busy food court with my friend, and my baby threw up all over my shirt and my jacket. The shocked look on my (then childless) friend was priceless. I wasn’t fazed – I just grabbed the wipes from my bag and went on with life – and lunch. If there’s anything motherhood does, it’s desensitising and making you forever prepared for the unexpected exit of bodily fluids.
I’ve written a pretty comprehensive post about what goes in my baby bag, but for the mums and dads who are new to the game, here’s your very own guide. You can also download this checklist (sans commentary) and keep it pinned to the fridge or by the door, so you’ve got can check it before you head out.
THINGS TO PACK FOR BABY
- Wipes. Lots of them
You will never not need wipes. My sister has a 10 and 8 year old and still carried wipes around in her handbag. They’re the multipurpose friend of every parent I know – great for cleaning dirty bottoms and dirty hands, noses, faces, tables, toys… you name it. Before you head out always make sure your stash of wipes has been topped up. You don’t want to be in the parent room realising you’ve only got 1 measly wipe to get through the giant mountain of poop on your kid’s butt. My recent favourite discovery is the Curash Water-only wipes. I love these things – perfect for going out because they don’t have any random chemicals that might end up on your kids’ sensitive skin or on their food (if you’re using them to wipe up dirty hands or spoons).
When you’re heading out for the entire day with a newborn, remember they poop pretty much every time they eat (so every couple of hours) so pack what you need and then some extras. You will eventually thank your lucky stars you packed those extras.
- Change mat
I keep two disposable ones in my nappy bag, so if one gets filthy, I can chuck it out and reach for the other.
- Nappy rash cream
If you’re short on space, opt for the mini tubes or reusable tubs you get in sample bags during baby expos or from the hospital. Personally, I find the best ones have the flip or snap-lock lids (so you can open and close with one hand, while the other keeps your baby from wriggling off the change table).
- Nappy bags
Good for smelly nappies but also handy for throwing in dirty (i.e. puked or pooed on) clothes.
- Multi-purpose healing ointment/pawpaw ointment
To soothe flare-ups and angry skin and very useful as a barrier or healing cream for babies with eczema, dribbly babies (apply under their chin or the neck to prevent redness) or babies who are out in the cold for long periods.
- Travel pack of tissues
Much like wipes, these will always come in handy.
- Extra/spare clothes
Bring a light jacket or extra layer, especially for bubs who are often more affected by the cold temperature than we are. One set is fine – just remember to replace the dirty stuff as you need to.
- Teether/Pacifier (or both)
My trick is to keep these attached to the key fob on my baby bag – that way I can see if it’s missing.
- Pram toys
Something bright, soft, with things bub can chew and distract himself with while you’re waiting to pay for your groceries.
- White noise / music machine
Playing white noise is a great way to soothe or calm an upset or tired baby, and get them ready for sleep. I used to use my phone but it got really annoying when I’d be trying to get bub to sleep in a cafe or while walking around the shops and then it would ring/buzz with a message and wake him up. So eventually I bought a battery-operated white noise and music machine for about $20 at a baby store and kept it clipped to the baby capsule so it was ready to do its magic whenever we are out. It plays white noise, a heart beat, lullaby music and waves.
- Small muslin blanket
Multipurpose – use sit as a baby blanket, burp cloth, feeding cover or to wipe up big spills or messes.
THINGS TO PACK FOR YOU
Yes, sometimes I’ve walked out the door without my house keys or phone. Or I’ve halfway to the station and realise my wallet is still on the dresser and have to circle back. Mummy brain is a thing.
- Hand sanitiser
- Water bottle
- Hand moisturiser
You may be wondering how on earth all these things actually fit inside one baby bag. My answer: POCKETS. Get yourself a baby bag that has a spot for everything. My one (purchased from BagyBags on Etsy) is the bomb:
THINGS TO PACK IF BABY IS BOTTLE FED, EATING SOLIDS OR CUTTING TEETH
Choose an insulated lunch box with a clip-together handle (so it’s easy to either hang off your baby bag or pram).
Pack several – kids are messy little
shits gems. I keep 2 in my baby bag because he always seems to be teething and therefore drooling, then pack more in his lunchbox for his actual meals.
- More wipes
Lots of wipes. You can never have enough wipes.
- Ice pack
That’s spoons plural because baby will want one to hold while you’re trying to feed him, and will probably keep throwing it on the ground and getting it dirty. So you’ll always need more than one.
Ah snacks. My kids are bottomless pits (the 5 year old doesn’t stop eating). So have something healthy on hand that will keep them happy and fill – sliced up fruit, yoghurt pouches, rice cakes, rusks – the list goes on. Just make sure you’ve got something or all hell will break loose when they’re hungry and you’ve got nothing.
THINGS TO KEEP IN THE CAR
- Wipes. Lots of them
For all the reasons stated above. Best stored upside down, so the top ones are always moist and ready to use.
- Spare nappies
Because sometimes you just run out of the ones in your bag. Maybe bub was extra pooey that day, or you stayed out for longer than you intended, or you just forgot to top up your baby bag stash. Whatever the case, better to be prepared.
- A spare change of clothes for everyone
Because sometimes the mess doesn’t end up on baby, but on you. Or all of you. And don’t just back a top, pack an outfit. I’ve had entire meals end up all over my front and on my legs – in such situations, changing my top alone isn’t going to cut it. So I’ve got a little drawstring bag with spare undies, a bra, top, leggings and a dress that I can change into in case of drastic emergencies.
Before you freak out and think going out with your baby is some crazy ordeal that requires months of planning, don’t stress – you’ll get the hang of it. I’m only providing this list because sleep deprivation causes me – and many other mums I know – to forget. Which reminds me, have I left something out of this guide that’s critical? Hit me up in the comments below.