Monday, January 25, 2010

What's in Your Diaper Bag?

It was raining cats and dogs in Brooklyn today, but I was dying to get out of the apartment with Baby L. So I planned an outing to Willburg Cafe, just across the street, where they have plenty of space for strollers and the baristas don't seem to mind the sound of a crying baby.

I was a little nervous about going to a cafe with the baby by myself for the first time. So I worked out a strategy-- I waited until just before L.'s nap time, then placed her gently in her stroller where she promptly drifted to sleep. I figured this would give me at least an hour of peace while I figured out how to have lunch with myself, my laptop, and my baby for the first time.

Alas, as soon as we stepped foot into Willburg, Baby L. awoke with a fuss. I felt all eyes on me as I bounced around the cafe with L. She started to cry the instant I sat down with her, so I danced around while all the normal people sipped their lattes. Luckily, within minutes, a family with another baby arrived, so I didn't feel so out of place.

I figured going out to lunch with Baby L. was a lot like going on a field trip with my first graders when I was teaching. After all, bringing my baby to different places around the neighborhood is a great way to teach her all kinds of new vocabulary, give her new experiences, and expose her to the big world outside the apartment. When I was a teacher, I always carried a huge backpack full of supplies on field trips. Now, my diaper bag was just as crucial! As L. grew more and more cranky, I reached into my diaper bag to pull out various items, one after the other, keeping her entertained with each new activity:

1st) Her favorite jingly toy, a handmade fuzzy soft elephant. I jingled it and attached it to her the toy bar on her stroller. She reached for it! An exciting first! But two minutes later, she was basically uninterested.

2nd) One of her favorite swaddling blankets, which I wrapped around her bottom half, leaving her hands free for sucking. I thought it might comfort her. It did, for about a minute.

3rd) The extra hat and mits that I keep in the bag. I have a bad habit of forgetting her hat when I leave the house. I thought maybe she was feeling chilly. She wasn't.

4th) My Bebe Au Lait nursing cover that my mother-in-law gave me as a gift. Maybe L. was hungry? I fed her and she ate a whole bunch, but I don't think that was really the problem.

5th) Her diaper changing mat. It's called a Patemm Pad and I get compliments on it everywhere I go (Thanks M.W.!). Around the edge of the circle are pockets where I keep extra diapers, a tiny bottle of Purell, a small tube of Aquafor, and a travel pack of our favorite baby wipes from Seventh Generation-- which you can use on her hands & face as well as her bum since they have no perfumes, chemicals, or dyes-- just water. Baby L. had fun getting changed, but as soon as we were finished, she was ready for somethin' new.

6th) Personally, I think it's a little rude to put dirty diapers in someone else's trash can, so I stuck her dipe in a doggy-poo bag. It's like they say on the mountain when we're hiking: "Pack it in. Pack it out. Leave no trace." I keep a little dispenser of plastic bags in our bag just for this purpose. It's just like our dog's little red bone-shaped dispenser, except L.'s is pink.

I stuck her back in her stroller and tried rocking her back and forth while I snuck bites of my garden omlette (which was delicious, even though it was cold by then). I finished up quick so I could take Lily home where she could take a real nap in her crib.

Once we were at home and L. was dozing comfortably, I wondered what clever things other moms might keep in their diaper bags for field trips around the 'hood. What's in your diaper bag? Any tricks to share?

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