What goes in the nappy bag?

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 Photo: Getty Images

Paediatricians Dr Ben Spitalnick and Dr Keith Seibert have written the new book Baby Care Anywhere: A Quick Guide to Parenting on the Go (American Academy of Pediatrics, $12.95), a simple-to-read book with answers to questions that get straight to the point.

It addresses common baby questions including what to do if your baby has colic, how to properly give your newborn a bath, and what is thrush and how to treat it.

The book also covers the essential items to always have with you in a nappy bag.

Drs Spitalnick and Seibert provided a quick start guide for the nappy bag. They explain that it's far more than just a bag for nappies - it's the travel companion for your baby that should contain all the things you might need when away from home base.

And by "everything", it should include items someone else (less prepared than you) may need in the event of a "baby handoff", whether to a spouse, grandparent, sitter, etc.

The list below is a starting point, so use it as either the foundation for starting your own bag - or the inspiration for a really helpful customised baby shower gift! With time, you'll no doubt find items to take away, or to add.

To start, nappy changing time comes with a little preparation:

  • Nappies (of course): the key here is to have several more than you think you will ever need. Especially pack more with your first visits to the doctor - you may be surprised that the "stimulation" of temperature taking can produce several more dirty nappies than you're used to seeing in a short time! Also, nappies are the one item you need to restock every time you get home if you used any. Don't "dip into" the bag for home changes, or you'll find your supply empty when you are furthest from your home base!
  • Plastic bags: you may not always be somewhere that you can, or will want to, dispose of a freshly soiled nappy.
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  • Nappy changing pad: this helps ensure your baby will always be able to lie on a clean, and cleanable, surface. Your friends will also appreciate a barrier between the diaper change and their carpet.
  • Nappy cream: or ointment, powder, or whatever your choice of rash remedy may be, just in case.
  • Baby wipes

Beyond nappy change items however, the bag should carry all the items you may need to get through both a normal day and more unusual circumstances ...

  • A burp cloth for your baby. 
  • If bottle-feeding, bottles and formula. You will probably find it easier to have pre-measured powder packaged and ready, so all that's left is to add water; dry powder takes up much less space, is lighter, and lasts longer than ready-to-feed mixed formula.
  • Snacks or baby food, if your baby is old enough for these. 
  • An extra outfit or two for your baby, as there's no telling what kind of messes lie ahead. A sleep suit can come in handy, in case you end up staying out later that your baby's usual bedtime - you'll appreciate the ease of slipping your sleeping baby into the crib when you get home, without risking waking her up for a clothing change.
  • A large plastic bag is helpful for storage of wet/dirty clothes.
  • Books, toys, or other distraction items, which are especially handy at restaurants, in waiting rooms, and anywhere that requires an unknown length of sitting still.
  • A small blanket can be handy for a surface to lie on for play time.
  • Hand sanitiser - even though you may already keep some in your purse, it's good to have extra in case, especially after nappy changes, and before/after feedings.
  • Extra dummies, if your baby uses one. These seem to find a way of disappearing the moment you turn your back, often never to be found again.
  • Just-in-case sick items, as your baby may show signs of illness when you are furthest from home. Basics to keep in your bag include a thermometer, fever reducing medicines (depending on your baby's age and the advice of your pediatrician), and gas drops if you are using them (again, with the advice of your pediatrician).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution