Leaving the house for a day out with your baby can take forever when you keep having to dash back to grab one more vital thing to add to your already overflowing bag. To help take the pressure off your sleep-deprived brain, we’ve put together a list of the true essentials for a perfect day out, including a few pointers to help keep the weight and volume of your bag down. We've even thrown in some baby life hacks along the way to make your job easier!
Nappies: the bottom line
Pack as many nappies as you think you’d use if you were staying at home, plus one in case the side-tabs break or your day out lasts longer than you expected. If you use disposables, opt for better-quality ones when you’re out and about — a few extra pennies definitely outweigh dealing with leakages (or explosions). If you normally use cloth, remember that the dirty nappies you’ll be carrying around at the end of the day weigh much more than the clean ones you started out with, so using disposables might make sense on a long day out.
Baby Hack 1: Put on more than one bib
Any mum or dad with a teething baby will tell you that, beyond the tears, the worst thing about teething is all the dribbling. Put on a few layers of bibs before you leave home and remove them as they dribbled on or dirty. This will save you time and money as you won't have to change your baby's clothes as often.
More for the quick change routine
Nappy-changing hardware can weigh down your bag, so think ahead. Wet wipes takes up less space than cotton wool and lotion. Decant creams and sanitiser into travel-size bottles or pots. If you use cloth nappies, a tightly closing wet bag keeps dampness and smells under wraps. If you use disposables, plastic nappy bags can make getting rid of oozing packages in public bins a bit less messy. They also come in handy for storing dirty clothes. A simple fold-up changing mat is useful for plonking baby down on at any time, not just during changes.
A new wardrobe
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any baby in possession of a clean set of clothes will soon be in need of another. And then another. Nappies leak, milk re-emerges, food flies… Pack at least one complete change, more if you’re planning a very long day out. A sturdy burp cloth and bib will help each set last longer. If it’s chilly or you’ll be out late, don’t forget a hat, extra jumper, or blanket — fleece ones are lightweight and easy to wash.
Baby Hack 2: The carabiner
These little gems are not just for your avid mountaineer. They're a charm for hooking your house or car keys onto your bag so you don't have to pull a Mary Poppins to find them. They're available in any camping shops like Millets and are great when you have so many other things to juggle.
The snack bar
If baby has already started on solids, stashing some snacks takes the pressure off finding something suitable on a menu later in the day. As well as the obvious sugar-free rusks or crackers, healthy options include sticks of firm avocado, cheese, or pieces of pear, peach, or banana, packed in small Tupperware containers. Don’t forget a sippy cup or bottle of water to wash it down with.
Some light entertainment
Whether it’s a dummy, Binky the bear, a toy, or a teething ring, most babies seem to have an object or two that calms or distracts them when the going gets tough. Consider getting two of whatever it is: one that always stays in your bag, and one to keep at home, so you never get caught short. As baby gets older, put together some activity bags (ziplocks containing small toys, puzzles, or other distractions – the net is buzzing with ideas for them) and grab one as you leave the house.
Slings, pushchairs, and automobiles
Think about the terrain before you decide on baby’s ride for the day. If you’ll be going up and down busy pavements and in and out of buildings, carrying your baby in a wrap or soft-structured carrier can be less faff than a pushchair. Look for one that distributes baby’s weight over both shoulders and your hips, and beware of models that leave baby’s legs dangling – their hips and thighs should be fully supported.
Mums matter too
We know what it’s like. You’re so busy thinking about your baby that you’ve forgotten all about yourself. So once you’ve packed everything your little darling might conceivably need, take a moment or two to think about you. As well as the essentials (keys, purse, phone), consider packing a snack for yourself or maybe a book or magazine in case baby drops off and you get the chance to do some reading, for a change.
Baby Hack 3: Buy a pair of combat or cargo trousers
It may seem like a wink and a nod back to 90s' fashion but you'll soon be buying in bulk when you realise just how handy all that extra storage can be. Whatever doesn't fit in the bag goes straight into your pocket, providing even easier access.