So, it’s a nice sunny day, you’ve got a baby and a toddler going stir crazy in the house and you want to go out. Easy. You just stick them in their pushchair and off you go, right?Photo from Ben.fitzgerald
Not quite. Organising a simple restaurant, park or family visit can sometimes turn out to be akin to a major military operation with supplies, logistics and co-ordination required in bucket loads.
I suspect most men think, “Do we really need those 7 bags just to have a quick Sunday Roast in the local?” and most women think, “I really need another 4 bags of gear, where can I fit it all in….”
As a father of two I thought it would be good to list out exactly what you do need.
Babies are pretty useless lets face it. If we still lived in the wild and were hunted by dinosaurs I think the human race would be extinct in a couple of generations as our offspring are completely unable to fend for themselves. The only real defence they have is filling their nappy at an alarming rate, thus scaring off even the most fearsome predators. Compared to other species who are walking within minutes of being born, our children need plenty of support from their parents just to survive.Image from The London Mama
As such, the ‘essentials’ list of items for a baby is quite extensive and in my experience generally includes:
- Nappies (at least 3 or 4 – they have a habit of really going for it when you’re out…)
- Car seat and/or pushchair depending upon your travelling preference
- Baby changing creams (babies with sore bots aren’t great company)
- Nappy sacks
- Wipes (surface wipes, skin wipes and if you’re worried about winter germs, anti bacterial hand wipes are useful)
- Change of clothes (sometimes even the adorable ones will ‘explode’ at just the wrong moment…)
- If you’re bottle feeding you’ll need formula milk & a source of cool boiled water
- If you’re breast feeding you’ll need to arrange somewhere discreet to feed and/or take a breastfeeding shawl
- If they’re weaned/weaning you’ll need their food (unfortunately they can’t always just tuck into your Sunday Roast)
- Bib (or yet another set of spare clothes….)
- A bottle of water or juice
- Blanket to keep warm in winter if you’re out in the buggy
That’s about it for essentials. Next on the list to ensure mental survival are things like toys, their favourite comforter and other associated items to ensure the little darlings are kept amused during your outing – or ideally can get off to sleep easily.
Toddlers are a bit easier than babies – only a bit – at least they can tell you if you’ve done something wrong.Image courtesy of Marcus Q
For a toddler though you’ll still need a fair bit of kit for your journeys, albeit I wouldn’t put it in an ‘essentials’ list, but I would put it into the ‘things you need to avoid a dreadful experience’ list:
- Portable potty/toilet seat (depending where they’re at with potty training)
- Again wipes to keep them clean and try to avoid those dreaded lurgies ruining the next two weeks with incessant vomiting
- Water and/or milk (or at least a drinking vessel that they can use when out)
- Snacks (it’s amazing how quickly they burn off their lunch and need a pick-me-up – forget and you’ll have a tantrum on your hands…)
- If you’re eating out, then kids cutlery is handy
- Depending upon the age and how your child rates on the mess-o-meter, a bib
- Change of clothes is handy because chances are if you don’t take one out they’ll manage to jump in a muddy puddle or something and be soaked for the rest of the day (cue whining)
- Toy / colouring books – I’d almost include this as an essential to avoid a bored child ruining your outing
- If you’re walking a fair distance you may also need a doubles pushchair or a buggy board
- You’ll still need a car seat for your toddler or booster seat for the slightly older ones if you’re driving to the venue
Thankfully most places, but not all, have highchairs you can use these days. Remember the anti bacterial surface wipes though, I’ve seen highchairs in restaurants that looked like they were last cleaned in the mid 1980’s with a bit of spit and polish (mainly spit).
Well, that’s my list. This is pretty much what we take out for those ‘quick’ outings. Packing for a weekend away (or longer) is a whole new ball game…..
Most of it we leave constantly packed in one or two bags – otherwise a quick trip requires a couple of hours of hunting and gathering before you can go. Not much fun with bored kids in the house.
Being a classic dad I pretty much always forget something when we do go out, so I’m sure I’ve missed something off the list too, but if you pack this lot you’ve pretty much covered the basics which should result in a relatively stress free outing with the kids.
Phew. Its exhausting isn’t it?! Maybe just stay in…it’s easier…..