The Life Cycle of a Diaper Bag

Your love affair with the one bag in your life, documented.

The Life Cycle of a Diaper Bag

The diaper bag: No mom ever leaves home without it, no kid ever leaves it alone. At first glance, a diaper bag is simply a bag -- something flung over a mom’s shoulder, stuffed with diapers, bottles, and Cheerio crumbs. But isn’t a diaper bag so much more than that? Truly, perfect diaper bag execution is a coveted skill; and once you’ve got it down, it all changes again.

We bring you The Life Cycle of a Diaper Bag.

Stage One: Pre-Baby Fantasy

In stage one, the diaper bag sits pretty by the door. It is small, compact, and generally disguised as a purse. It isn’t really used yet, just ready to be thrown into action at a moment’s notice. It’s still crisp and clean, with sparse contents divided into appropriate pockets or separate, stylish zipper pouches. Contents generally include a single diaper (maybe two); a hard case of perfectly folded wipes; an extra pacifier with the protective case still in place; and a small collection of wooden teethers. The stage-one diaper bag is photoshoot-ready, a sight to behold.


Stage Two: Postpartum Reality

The stage-two diaper bag is the same bag as the stage-one bag, but it has moved from fantasy to reality. Naturally, having been sent into battle, the diaper bag has now suffered the wear-and-tear of being tossed from car to stroller, from the counter to the ground, from Target cart to grocery basket, and et cetera. Having learned many lessons the hard way, the stage-two mama has appropriately restocked her bag as follows: no fewer than five diapers and an entire jumbo pack of wipes; three extra pacifiers thrown in at random, protective cases be damned—just lick ‘em to clean ‘em; two changes of clothes and corresponding “wet bags” (aka, old plastic grocery sacks); a bottle with the formula already in it, even though it’s supposed to be stored in a separate container; and three noisy, horrifically bright plastic rattles that make excessive noise inside the bag, but can never be found when needed.

Stage Three: Reverse Carpet Bag

First off, mourn the loss of the stylish purse-like diaper bag; that dies with stage two. Stage-three moms have upgraded to some horrendously large number, bound and determined that they’ve morphed into SuperMoms and will be prepared for anything. Sadly, this is where stage-three moms get tripped up because stage-three diaper bags are actually infinite voids. They are very Mary Poppins-like, a carpet bag quality—it’s amazing what fits in! The problem? Nothing ever comes out.

A stage-three mom still needs to pack her diaper bag for each outing. She will ask, “Do I have diapers?” But rather than check, she’ll add two more. She’ll forget to ask, “Do I have wipes?” and will need to wet paper towels in the gas station bathroom after discovering that the wipe pack had a tear and all the wipes are dried out. And every day, snacks will be added but never fully consumed. At any given moment, a stage-three diaper bag could contain a half-finished cup of now spoiled milk; two crushed packages of puffs; an open container that once contained cooked peas (which are now stuck to the darkest corners of the bag); and one of those disgusting mesh pouches with what used to be fruit inside. Having learned that spoons and keys and candy bar wrappers are much more entertaining than toys, the stage three mom stops loading rattles into the bag, but judging from the sound, there’s still pieces of an old one floating around in there somewhere.

Stage Four: False Freedom

After the one year mark, the diaper bag moves into its fourth phase. Certain that she now has a toddler, not a baby, a stage-four mom makes the horrible mistake of downgrading too early. When it comes to diaper bags, the only law is Murphy’s Law, so if you don’t have it with you, you will absolutely need it. But you know what? Despite this having happened to every stage-four mom in the history of the world, babies have still been raised into adulthood. (This is the first indication that freedom is coming.)

Stage Five: Interim

Stage five looks very different depending on where you live and how you get around. Stage five is less about keeping your small human fed, clean, and alive and more about keeping them entertained. If you’re a city mom, you learn to stash a multitude in your stroller, thus the diaper bag shrinks. A city stroller always contains a bucket and shovel; a blanket; bubbles; a small ball; child-size sunglasses ; a sun hat, which will never be worn but makes a mother feel better to have it; and rain gear. If you’re a suburban mom instead, you can keep these things in your car since they are obviously too large to fit in any version of a diaper bag. Which is exactly why stage five is the transition phase—you might still need a lot of gear, but you start finding different places to put it.

Stage Six: Portability

By stage six, the moms have woken up and realized that they need some life back too. They’ve spent nearly two years toting around the needs of some other human, and they start to wish for unbroken sunglasses or a chapstick that doesn’t have small teeth marks in it. Stage-six moms will declare freedom from the diaper bag and go out to purchase something purse-like again. The timid opt for the canvas tote; the committed spring for the leather satchel. Whatever your level of risk, it’s important to realize that, a new bag doesn’t actually free you from diaper bag responsibility. You’ll still need to leave the house prepared. But by stage six, you’ll also want to be able to leave the house without kids and without having to switch out of the diaper bag. Thus, enter the diaper pouch —a snazzy mini-bag that can hold a diaper or a pull-up, some wipes, a snack, emergency crayons, princess Band-Aids, and hand sanitizer.

It’s safe to say that after you’ve lived a diaper bag life, you’ll probably never really grow out of it. After stage six, you might be able to get away with no diaper bag; but you’ll be so accustomed to having cheesy bunnies and first-aid supplies, that you’ll feel lost without them, kids or no. The life of a diaper bag is fleeting, in the grand scheme of things; but really, the spirit of the diaper bag lives on.

Image via HATCH Collection's Anti-Diaper Bag.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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