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Diaper Bags 101: Shopping For and Stocking Your Diaper Bags
by Stacy Jones Tolentino

New and expecting moms, you're about to trade in your purse for a diaper bag. New and expecting dads, you've had years of getting by with just carrying a billfold--but that's about to change. You're about to go shopping for a very important baby staple--a diaper bag! But before you head to the store or log on to your computer to go cyber shopping, you'll want to read this article. I like to call it a course that will teach you everything you need to know about diaper bags and once completed, it's guaranteed to make you a diaper bag expert! Now, if you don't mind, the course is about to begin. I'll be answering lots of questions, so take good notes. You won't want to miss a thing!

Where do I buy them and what do they cost?

Diaper bags may be purchased at department stores, baby stores, through mail-order catalogs, and at consignment shops. Plan on spending around $40 for a brand-new quality diaper bag--but be careful! I've seen many poor quality bags with enormous price tags. That's why it's important to know what you're buying. Why spend a lot of money for a bag that you'll need to replace before your baby's first birthday? Many parents, myself included, absolutely love the Lands' End diaper bags. Their bags are made of excellent materials; they're durable, long lasting and very reasonably priced. Visit Lands' End Kids Apparel to find out more about their great diaper bags. Cloth diaper business owners often sell great diaper bags too.

Which styles are available?

Diaper bags come in three basic styles: The hand held tote bag style, the over-the-shoulder purse style, or the backpack style. Some diaper bags have both hand straps and over-the-shoulder straps. Diaper bags tend to come in two sizes: Large bags, which hold lots of baby stuff or small bags, which hold just a few items. The style that you choose should be one that both you and your partner like.

How many should I purchase?

You should purchase one large and one small diaper bag. Use the larger bag as your main diaper bag and keep it well stocked. Most importantly, don't forget to take it with you everywhere that you go. Use your smaller diaper bag for short outings. For instance, if you're planning a trip to the store, keep your larger diaper bag in the trunk of the car. Stock your smaller diaper bag with the bare necessities and carry that one with you instead of the larger one. You simply will not need everything in your large diaper bag during a short outing and carrying a smaller bag will help to lighten your load.

What qualities should I look for in a diaper bag?

Diaper bags vary in quality and take it from someone who bought two very cute, but very poorly constructed diaper bags--if you don't purchase a quality diaper bag, you'll be shopping for a new one every few months. Don't skimp! Look for all ten of these qualities before making your purchase:

  1. The bag must be durable, sturdy and able to handle heavy loads.
  2. The bag should be made out of durable, waterproof fabric. Denier polyester or denier nylon, backed with vinyl, are ideal because these are sturdy, waterproof fabrics that won't crack.
  3. The stitching must be a good quality.
  4. The zippers must be a good quality.
  5. The straps must be rugged and adjustable.
  6. Shoulder straps and backpack straps should be padded.
  7. The bag must include a good size changing pad.
  8. The bag should include little extras, like an insulated bottle bag and a wallet compartment for your own important things.
  9. There should be plenty of pockets both inside and outside of the bag to store your baby's things.
  10. The bag should be roomy enough to hold all of the things you need to carry for your baby while you're away from home during the day.
Of course, smaller diaper bags need not have all of these features, but they should have some and they should still be made of quality materials.

What goes in the diaper bag?

Having a well stocked diaper bag is very important! You don't want to be without something that you need for your baby while you are away from home. So here is a list of things you'll want to pack inside of your diaper bag:

  • Diapers (Now, that doesn't surprise you, does it?) Pack enough diapers and covers to get you through your day trip.
  • Diaper wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Small waterproof bag (also known as a ditty bag) to place wet or soiled garments into after a diaper change
  • A few plastic grocery store bags (You never know when you'll need to place something inside of one of these. You can also use these in place of a ditty bag.)
  • At least one complete change of clothing for the baby (Don't forget undershirts/onesies and socks!)
  • An extra shirt for mom (if she is nursing)
  • A small thin blanket (Receiving blankets work well.)
  • A burp cloth
  • A small package of tissues
  • A small bottle of anti-bacterial liquid hand wipe
  • Hand lotion
  • Band-aids
  • A rattle or small toy
  • A bib and baby spoon
  • A baby bottle or spill proof cup filled with milk (hopefully yours) or juice
  • A bottle of water for yourself
  • Snacks for you and the baby
  • A mini breast pump (if necessary)
  • Nursing pads
  • Pacifier
  • A sunhat for the baby
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses (for you and the baby)
  • Your baby's medical card and immunization record
  • A small phone book with important phone numbers (Don't forget your pediatrician's phone number!)
  • A cell phone to use for emergencies
  • Your wallet
Some of the items on the above list are optional, but some are not. For instance, you'll be in trouble if you don't have diapering supplies or a change of clothing for your baby while you are out, but it won't be as big a deal if you forget to bring your sunglasses along.

Are there any other diaper bag tips that I should know about?

You bet! Always remember:
  • Carry only a few bare necessities if you're using a small diaper bag, but keep your large bag nearby--like in the trunk of your car. If you don't drive a car, consider purchasing a backpack diaper bag. This type of bag will free up your hands and is easier to transport.
  • If your diaper bag is too heavy or uncomfortable for you to carry, remove some of its contents to lighten your load.
  • Always place bottles of milk inside of insulated bottle bags to keep them cool.
  • Restock your diaper bag every time you return home.
  • Remove any wet and soiled items from your bag as soon as you return home.
  • Periodically replace clothes in your diaper bag as your baby grows.
  • Clean out and wipe down your diaper bags often to avoid clutter and grime build up.
You'll be toting around a diaper bag for the first few years of your baby's life, so don't choose just any department store bag. Many of them are not waterproof and are lined with cheap vinyl that will soon crack, rendering them useless. So, if you're in need of a diaper bag, use the information that you've gleaned from this Diaper Bags 101 course to find yourself a quality bag and to stock it well. Okay, diaper bag experts, you may now go shopping!

Copyright 2001 Stacy Jones Tolentino/ Homefront Publishing
This article may not be copied, reproduced, republished, abstracted, posted, transmitted, or otherwise, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of Homefront Publishing. Single copies may be made for your personal, non-commercial use provided this copyright notice remains intact. For permissions send an email to readabook@aol.com.

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