I’ve always had a slight obsession with what other people carry around with them on a day-to-day basis and I’ve always wondered if it stems from curiosity into others lives, or from being stranded in my car one too many times, or because of that dreaded “just in case” mentality which used to mean I was the worlds worst over-packer.
As a new mama I’ve had to pair down my own essentials (like makeup) and make room for my little ladies items – which has led to me bringing along just the necessities. This change happened mainly out of fear of breaking my back (as my nappy bag used to be soooo heavy), and be panting 30m into a walk for a picnic at Kirstenbosch, once I started going stroller free.
1. Breast Pads
The absolute number one item I cannot travel without are breast pads. I adore the Medela ones as while they are single use, they hold a ton without feeling awful against my skin. I have used a wide variety of other brands and have found that they just don’t quite compare. I do have washable cotton breast pads but in the early days I found they saturated far too quickly, especially at night and in the beginning I honestly didn’t enjoy using them as they felt awful on my skin (cue the ‘funny’ story about how I accidentally leaked milk all over a table when I was doing a short-course at UCT and then had to use my pashmina to hide the stains *facepalm*). However, now that my supply has settled, I mainly use the cotton ones at home during the day, and keep my disposable ones in my travel bag for convenience.
2. My Medela Harmony Pump
This item is always in my bag because I never know when I’ll need it. I opted for a small hand pump as opposed to the electric version, mainly because of Eskom’s power cuts … and that small matter of not wanting to feel like a glorified milk cow. After over a year of use I can say I absolutely love it and can’t do without it. It’s small, quiet, portable and I can fit in any bag discreetly. I did have to get another breast shield attachment as the one provided was a tad to small for my rather engorged self. For those wondering, I picked Medela based not only on their amazing Amazon reviews and customer satisfaction, but because they are the only company on the market to have a bottle teat from birth to toddler hood, as it’s design mimics how a baby needs to suckle at the breast to get milk out, meaning it’s easy from day 1 and there’s absolutely no bottle/breast confusion.
3. Milk Storage Bags
While these might not be the most eco-friendly of items, they are a necessity for me because of how little freezer space they use, and I love that I can fit more than I actually need for a trip in my bag – especially when compared to how bulky the little pots and full-sized milk bottles are. Shop around for a brand you like as it can be tricky to find bags which won’t leak when submerged in hot water (wasting some of your precious milk and becoming a source of frustration).
I cannot go anywhere without a full bottle of water. Seriously though, I think I drink over 3 litres of water a day now as I refill it so often. My skin has been loving this, and from a practical point of view I prefer taking my own water with me rather than buying plastic bottles on the go. And lastly, this is also handy to have in case your car overheats.
I came to the realization that I love baking just before I had my daughter, and subsequently I made a huge amount of muffins, date balls, coconut clusters, meringues and cookies in my last trimester. While those quickly went, I’ve continued to make extra large batches of baked goods when I do bake, so that I can easily freeze them as snacks on the go or as a quick breakfast on days I’m halfway out the door before realising I haven’t eaten yet. Dried fruit like raisins and cranberries, dates are safe for Amelia to snack on too, and I find that for me, nuts are another great option to help keep energy levels up.
9. Bib and small cutlery set
A washable bib and a small cutlery set are ideal for restaurants, a picnic, or a trip to granny.
7. A spare outfit (or two) for baby
It’s inevitable that while they are little, babies will get messy so a seasonally appropriate outfit, or two, are generally toted along. I keep one in the car and one in the bag.
6. Pashmina or Shawl
The second most used item I pack is a large shawl or Pashmina wrap. It quickly becomes your feeding cover, or handy stain hider should baby spit up on you while out. It’s a picnic blanket, an extra blanket, a sunshade, a pram cover, a tank top, a beach sarong, you name it.
8. One or two small toys
Gone are the early days bringing along 5 or 6 different, bulky toy options for my little one to play with. Now, she gets one or two to keep her interested if we’re out, otherwise she can play with the frog flashlight on my keys. I found that after she turned 18 months, a small soft toy she can hold and an attachable small book/rattle/teether suffices for most short trips. I also keep a strip of stickers in my wallet as an emergency distraction item for her if we run late anywhere, like at the doctors office.
10. Small first aid kit
I always have something on hand for bumps, bruising, insect bites, cuts, or teething while on the go. I carry my Buchu first aid gel and micropore strips, as it’s small and convenient, and the teething gel and travel-size panado bottle makes life easier when Amelia’s had a fall or we stay somewhere longer than planned and she gets cranky or hurt. I sometimes also carry the travel-size version of Oh-Lief insect repellent and a saline nose spray.
11. Lip balm
I use Simply Bee lip balm and love it. It’s odorless, softens my lips, and has even been an emergency bum balm and hand cream (ssh, don’t tell!)
Obviously a necessity when heading out.
I am cranky AF if I leave these behind at home, because my eyes do not adjust well to glare. Keep a spare in the car for the inevitable break that can happen when you’re sleep deprived and sit on them. I am not even joking. 😦
A pretty hat hides all my hair woes, and it keeps the sun off my face to boot, which for my skin, is a win-win. A fedora for spring, a peak cap for summer, a felt hat for autumn and a beanie for winter mean year-round I have a go-to solution that looks fairly stylish. Thank you hipsters for making my hat-choices mainstream trendy.
A small set of earphones mean I can listen to my music or podcasts while Amelia naps in the stroller or car.
16. Tissues and asthma pump
Allergy season and colds dictate these items as necessities.
17. Hand sanitizer
With more and more places shutting off their taps, hand sanitizer for me ensures some kind of preventative measure against germs and touchable grime.
18. Nappies and wet wipes
Three nappies and a half-used pack of wet wipes live permanently in my bag, along with a spare set in the car in case there are any oopsies. The wet wipes I find also double as a wipe for hands, faces, fruits, and even feet.
So that’s that from my end. I’d love to hear what kind of things you carry around in your bag on a daily basis.