This post comes as a request from a long time friend who is getting ready to be a daddy himself. We worked together for many years on a search and rescue team where we all were required to carry a 72 hour bag full of rescue, survival, and medical gear that we kept constantly at the ready for that unsuspecting moment the call for deployment went out. We were expected to be able to carry everything that we could need for 72 hours on our backs. Food, water, personal shelter, and clothing.
All of this in addition to our search and rescue gear. As an old Boy Scout (I actually earned the Eagle Scout rank), the motto of “Be Prepared” has always rang true in my everyday life. As a new parent, this motto rang louder than ever because my wife and I found ourselves in numerous situations where we should have been more ready for the unknown. This is part 1 in a several part series on the different kits I have put together and keep on hand.
My daughter was only two weeks old. My wife and I were trying our best to fall into some semblance of a routine as new parents. Sleep deprived, and scatterbrained, we prepared to leave the house for the first time since coming home from the hospital to take my wife to her post partum appointment with her OB/GYN. My wife spent the better part of a half hour the night before prepping everything we could possibly need in the diaper bag. Diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, changing pad, nasal aspirator, diaper rash cream, formula, bottles, burp cloth, blanket, get the picture?
The next morning we were ready to go. Fueled with blind confidence and a sense of false security, we left the house for the doctor’s office. At the time, we lived in the country in an old farmhouse. It was an approximately 45 minute drive to the office. With the baby’s belly full, and a fresh diaper on her bottom, we strapped her into the car, and I triple checked the straps and latches to make sure the car seat was completely secured. Off we went. Upon arrival at the office, I helped my wife up out of the car and unhooked the car seat from the base. The baby was out cold in a milk coma. It was extremely windy that morning and the Spring air had quite a bite to it. Braving the elements we forced our way into the office.
“Whew! We made it!” I said.
“Yup! We’re here” my wife said breathing heavily. “Um….where’s the diaper bag?”
“I don’t have it. I thought you had it.”
“Ah…no. Didn’t you put it in the car when we left?”
“No…..I was carrying the baby! I thought YOU had it! Ok, Ok, don’t panic. We are almost an hour away from home, so going back for it really isn’t an option. She had a bottle before we left, and a fresh diaper, so she should be fine in time for us to get back home after your appointment.”
After signing in at the desk we were taken back to an exam room. The nurse came in to take my wife’s vitals and they struck up a conversation about the past two weeks and how we had been coping. It was at that moment when the malodorous scent wafted its way into my nostrils. Working in the field that I do, I come in contact with fecal matter on a daily basis. I am able to smell a turd from a mile away. And this was no ordinary turd smell. This was worse. I glanced down at my daughter still strapped in and asleep in her car seat. A faint glimmer of a grin came across her face.
“Uh oh….” I said, “I think we may have a problem”
My wife and the nurse turned to me with puzzling gazes. I quickly unfastened the car seat straps and pulled my daughter up and out. Their faces quickly turned to that of horror and disgust. I turned the baby around to see what the source of their fright was. My daughter, at the age of 2 weeks old, had her first major blowout. And we FORGOT THE DIAPER BAG. The brown stain had soaked through her sleeper clear up to her shoulder blades. The excrement had completed permeated through the sleeper and onto the padding of the car seat. The coup d’état was as I lifted her out, there was, lets just say, a “disturbance in the force” as my daughter let loose another mighty blow and the pure liquid poo began running down the leg of her sleeper and now was dripping onto my jeans. The nurse stood in disbelief for a moment or two and then returned to reality.
“It’s ok,” she said sweetly. “This sort of thing happens all the time. You aren’t the first set of new parents to come in here and forget the diaper bag. We have diapers and wipes for this very reason.”
My wife and I breathed a temporary sign of relief as we quickly began undressing the baby while at the same time trying to keep the carnage to a minimum. The nurse returned moments later with a sheepish look on her face.
“Soooooo yeeeeeaaah….we have diapers, and we have wipes, but the smallest size of diapers we have right now is a size 4.”
“It will have to do!” I said.
After a cleanup that would have rivaled the BP oil spill, we put the diaper on the baby. It came up to her armpits it was so big on her. It was pretty humorous given the situation, and we all got a nice chuckle. Then, there came the issue of clothing. We certainly couldn’t put her back in the sleeper, and there needed to be some kind of barrier against the car seat that was now damp from repeated attacks with baby wipes. I then got an idea. Remember that scene in Ghostbusters II when the bathtub tries to eat the baby and Dana flees to Venkman’s apartment? Remember when Venkman dresses the baby in the football jersey? I took the baby blanket we had on hand and created a makeshift onesie in a similar fashion. The nurse even came up with a perfect way to secure it. A butterfly breast cancer awareness pin.
So I told you that story so that you parents and would be parents could make sure this never happened to you. After that day, my wife and I came up with a plan that was both cost effective and always at the ready. We had received a portable changing pad as a baby shower gift.
At the time it was still sitting in the nursery because my wife and I weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Our diaper bag came with a changing pad, so we really didn’t need another one. We kept it just in the event our primary one wore out. After looking at this thing, we found that it had all kinds of pockets, and it folded up into a nice neat little package. This became our Diaper Changing Emergency Kit. This kit lives in the SUV under the passenger seat, and is always with the child because it is in the same vehicle as the car seats. Here are it’s contents:
- Diapers – Duh…this one should be a given. We keep several of the current size our child is wearing.
- Wipes – Another duh. To ensure that the wipes stay moist, we took a sizeable stack of wipes and put them in a quart size Ziplock bag. From there, we put them in one of those hard plastic wipe containers that sometimes come inside the giant economy case of wipes you can buy at the store. We did this for two reasons. 1. The Ziplock bag will lock in the moisture and prevent the wipes from drying out. 2. The hard case keeps them nice neat and tidy so that they don’t get bunched up and hard to retrieve when dealing with a roadside mess.
- Diaper rash cream – Ok, this took some MacGuyvering. I do not recommend putting an entire tube of cream in this pack. It takes up too much space, and it will blow open in the heated a closed up car in the summer. Here’s the workaround. If you have a Foodsaver, you can make your own little miniature tube out of the freezer bag and you can squeeze just enough cream in for one application before sealing it shut. Before tossing a few of these in the bag, cut a small slit on the corner of the seal to perforate it making it easier to tear open when out and about.
- Change of clothes – Remember the disaster from earlier? A onesie will fit nicely laid flat on the pad then folded up with the kit when closed.
- Hand sanitizer – For a dollar you can get a bottle that has one of those rubberized sleeves. They clip quite nicely to the zipper pull. Or if you’re the creative type, you can weave one out of paracord.
- A heavy cloth – We personally use a cloth diaper. Really all it serves for us is something to lay down on the changing pad before the baby. Those things can be cold and it makes things more comfortable for the baby. That, and you never know when it will come in handy to mop something up.
- Extra Ziplock bags – You’re gonna need something to put the nastiness in right? A gallon size bag usually does the trick. That way when you pull over at the nearest gas station, you can pitch the whole thing right in.
Folded all up and closed with a Velcro strap, the whole kit fits in your hand and is the size of an oversized woman’s clutch. Any time we have been out and forgotten the diaper bag, this little thing has been a lifesaver!