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Diapering Baby On the Go

Heading out for a day with baby? Here are some diaper bag must-haves, with tips for diapering babies in public, too
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WebMD Feature

Going out with your newborn is already a little nerve-wracking: Baby’s so tiny and the world is pretty big. Then there’s the added worry of getting stranded without diapers or other baby care essentials. What can you do?

Don't worry! We talked with pediatricians and parents on WebMD’s parenting message boards and got their tips for diapering baby on the go, what to bring, and how to improvise.

Baby, Diapers, & Diapering: Travel Light

Whether you’re headed out to the park for an hour or going away for the weekend, there’s really only one baby care must-have, says Atlanta pediatrician and mom Jennifer Shu, MD, co-author of Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. “Diapers. You really can get away without anything else.”

How many baby diapers will you need? That depends on the length of the trip, says Shu, who recommends two to three for an afternoon out, but as many as 12 for an overnight stay. And “overnight diapering needs overnight diapers,” Shu tells WebMD. “They have more absorbency.”

And, because modern diapers are super-absorbent, in a pinch you can even let baby pee in the same diaper twice if you must. Don’t do it too often, however, as it can lead to diaper rash.

Travels With Baby: Diapers and Diapering Essentials

Though a handful of baby diapers is all that really stands between you and a day out with your little one, you’ll probably find it practical to have a few more items on hand, say moms and dads. These include:

Baby wipes. Wipes are another component of the on-the-go diapering arsenal for some, especially the travel-pack size. Not only do they make handling messy diaper changes a snap; they’re handy for sticky hands and messy faces, too. If you’ve got a big box of wipes at home, you can make your own travel pack by slipping a few into a zip-top plastic bag. Left the wipes at home? Wing it with a few facial tissues. New mom Amiee Peri also carries a washcloth to back up wipes. ”We just dry our baby off before re-diapering him,” she says. “We think this has really helped us avoid diaper rash.”

Changing pad. A portable changing pad is a big help when you’re out on the town and don’t know where you may end up diapering baby. Although a few cloth diapers, a simple towel, or a baby blanket is all you really need, a diaper bag with a built-in changing pad comes in handy. There are also disposable pads -- similar to the paper sheets used in a doctor’s or dentist’s office. What if you forget to bring anything that can serve as a changing pad? Try using a newspaper or improvise with lavatory paper towels, suggests Shu.

Plastic bags. Those dirty diapers, disposable changing pads, and used baby wipes need to go somewhere when you’re out and about. That’s why lots of parents suggest tucking a few plastic grocery bags in with the diapers and wipes. They take up almost no room and in return provide very useful odor and mess control while out in public.