By Captain And Clark, on September 16, 2016

A new dad’s guide to packing

As a new father to a three-month-old son, many aspects of my life have changed dramatically. My wife and I are travelers by trade. We knew that bringing a child into our world would be interesting, to say the least.

I prepare for each trip like I’m in The Walking Dead, as if the poopocalypse will happen at any moment. Armed with an arsenal of diapers, wipes, and pacifiers, I feel prepared for almost any situation.

Our first few experimental trips took us to the San Juan Islands and a camping trip in the Cascade Mountains. We’re headed to Germany and the Czech Republic in a few weeks and hope our travels are just as smooth.

Items that make life easier are a worthy investment

When my mom first offered us a Pack ‘n Play, I scoffed. Babies have been sleeping on the ground for centuries. Why spoil them with a plush portable crib that I have to lug around?

Our little guy exploring the confines of his Pack 'n Play while camping
Our little guy exploring the confines of his Pack ‘n Play while camping

Because they will wail inconsolably if you don’t. That’s why. Turns out, our baby has been conditioned to sleep on his soft-yet-firm crib mattress. Plus, once I really looked at it, the Pack ‘n Play wasn’t that big or bulky. It fits comfortably in our trunk and, bonus, is free to check at the airport.

Viewfinder Tip: Baby safety items like strollers, car seats, and Pack n’ Plays are checked for free with most airlines.

Other items I don’t travel without are WubbaNub pacifiers (both cute and practical) and our portable diaper kit. My wife claims that the latter is a diaper clutch, but “kit” sounds more rugged and dad-worthy. I appreciate that the diaper kit can be carried with one hand and hold enough diapers, wipes, and butt paste (because that’s a thing) to survive any pooptastrophy.

Our diaper kit is perfect for roadside diaper changes
Our diaper kit is perfect for roadside diaper changes

Be prepared for the mess

Spoiler alert: Kids are dirty. Your cute mini-mes have a knack for cultivating the most horrific diaper messes and those adorable neck folds actually collect all sorts of gross treasures—like a cave in France making Roquefort cheese. While on the road, I make sure to carry an assortment of products fit for any hazards we encounter.

Plastic bags have proven to be extremely useful. I keep a stash in our car and a couple in the diaper kit. If there are no trash cans available after a diaper change, I simply stuff the diaper grenade in the plastic bag until we reach a receptacle. There are actually small scented (lavender, for the win!) bags that are made specifically for dirty diapers. Since the discovery of these magic bags, I keep a couple on hand for all our guy’s messes.

A quick diaper change while hiking with the wee one
A quick diaper change while hiking with the wee one

Baby wipes are also incredibly useful. Not only are wipes great for cleaning those baby bums, but they can also be a suitable substitute for bath time. I’m not just talking about for the baby. We recently took our little guy on a camping trip and let’s just say that everyone at one point had a baby wipes bath.

I’m a big fan of the Babyganics brand of wipes. These wipes are fragrance free and flushable. My wife and I like them so much that we keep a pack in our bathroom. Everyone wins.

Speaking of wipes, I also carry a travel pack of Clorox disinfecting wipes. The sanitation of public changing tables (though rarely accessible to father’s) are questionable, at best. Before laying my son on the table, I wipe it down with one of the disinfecting wipes. No norovirus for my boy.

Put those fears (and your baby) to bed

It’s widely accepted that new parents are going to be paranoid about their baby’s safety. For the first two weeks of our son’s life, my wife and I took turns staying awake to ensure he was breathing. We ended up purchasing the Owlet baby monitor that not only tracks our son’s oxygen level and heart rate but also sends all that info to our smart phones in real time.

When we travel, we pack the portable Snuza with us. The Snuza is comparable to the string of cans and bells that you put around your camp to ensure that you’re aware if the zombies breach the perimeter. It monitors your baby’s breathing but (almost) more importantly, it allows you and your wife to sleep at night.

The Snuza is battery powered unlike the Owlet that needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet. The Snuza clips to the baby’s diaper and will vibrate to wake a baby if it doesn’t detect and abdominal movement after 15 seconds. If the vibrations don’t work, a loud alarm will sound to alert caretakers. The battery makes it possible to take your son (and wife) camping. Get them addicted young.

What’s your favorite travel baby item?