What I Keep in My Car

Several of you have asked what I keep in my bag or my car to be prepared for adventures and outings. I’ve been hesitant to show you because:

  1. I’m a low-key car hoarder. I still have swim diapers and sweatshirts in my car, neither of which is applicable to us at this point in life. But I have them…just in case…
  2. Our car seat could be mistaken for a garbage disposal…there is food in alllllll the nooks and crannies.
  3. It’s not perfect yet. I like to promote finished products, but I don’t feel like my car storage journey is finished yet.

But when I look at that list of reasons, it seems like a lot of silly self-consciousness. And I aspire to be nothing if not approachable and helpful and I can’t think of a more approachable friend than the one who says, “Hey, want to look past the chicken-nugget-graveyard of a car seat and see if there’s something helpful here for you?” So here we go…

The Diaper Bag

Our diaper bag is ripe for a change. I have loved this particular bag until it is now sun-faded and worn down (linked HERE) but I am ready for something smaller. What I loved about this bag is that it had an outer-pocket for Connor’s water and a sleeve for baby wipes. Having access to wipes without having to dig around a bag is CRUCIAL. I’m still hunting for the perfect replacement, but in the meantime, here are the highlights of what I carry in our diaper bag. Notice there are actually no diapers in the diaper bag.

  1. Lunch Box (I like Bentgo boxes like the one linked HERE).
  2. Life Vac. I have a huge fear of Connor choking. I keep a Life Vac in our diaper bag and one in our house. Linked HERE.
  3. Child Sun Hat. I really like the wide-brimmed bucket hats for kids. It keeps the sun off Connor’s neck and face, and it keeps his eyes from getting water in the at splash parks. We like THIS brand lately
  4. Face Sunscreen for Parents. I love the Kroger Supergoop Dupe. It’s only $10!!!!
  5. Bug Spray and Kid Sunscreen. Our pediatrician recommended Blue Lizard brand for Connor when he was little, but surprisingly I am allergic (Connor was fine). So now I just keep Coppertone Kids Spray in our bag which has been fine for both of us. I know…aerosols are not great for your health. It’s not a battle I am able to fight right now.
  6. Doggie Bags. There are so many uses for these. Wet clothes? Put them in a bag. Dirty diaper? Put it in a bag. Trash in your car? You get the idea. They are so small you can carry a whole roll with you, and they cost like 1/5 of the price of the “Baby Bags” sold in the baby aisle. Linked HERE
  7. Powder SPF. This is a game-changer. You just brush it on like makeup! It’s not waterproof so it’s not a good fit for creek days, but it saves me from having to wrestle sunscreen on Connor’s nose when we are at parks and he won’t wear a hat. It’s also great for my super pale husband when I insist on riding with the sunroof open. Linked HERE.
  8. Personal Alarm and Pepper Spray. I hope I never need either of these, but in case we get lost or something happens to us, I carry a personal alarm (linked HERE) and pepper spray (linked HERE) in our bag.

The Water/Toy Bag

clearance as a bonus. I am so glad I snagged it. I love how I can see everything from the top and how the bottom is sturdy and the sides have structure while still being very forgiving. Actually, I found a very similar bag at Target last week for only $10 (I got it to carry laundry upstairs) and I’ll link it HERE. I also found a comparable bag on Amazon and I’ll link it HERE.

I’ll start with what I think are the ESSENTIALS to carry in this bag and move towards the more fluff items.

  1. Bug spray (honestly, I prefer the good ole fashioned DEET kind. I know that’s controversial, but I just don’t mess around with ticks)
  2. Sunscreen (really I keep this in our diaper bag, but it’s good to have a backup)
  3. First Aid Kit. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but something with band aids, no-sting antiseptic, and maybe some bug bite cream.
  4. Water shoes. I love the Hobibear brand for kids. They are closed toe and have great traction. I’ve linked them HERE. My water shoes are Merril brand. They were expensive but so worth it. I highly recommend getting a good pair of water hiking shoes for parents.
  5. Bubbles. Over the summer Walmart carries a six pack of bubble wands and that’s the best deal and best option for little ones. There are very few tantrums that can’t be fixed or at least delayed by bubbles.
  6. Diggers. Nothing fancy. Just grab a dollar store tractor, excavator, or dump truck. Kids love to put mulch in them at playgrounds, roll them down hills, or “wash” them in the creek.
  7. Minnow Net. It sounds silly, but honestly this is the best toy we have when we go to the creek. So fun to try and catch snails, minnows, toads, etc. We just have this basic $1.99 version (linked HERE), but I have friends with this one and it looks amazing (linked HERE).
  8. Water Pitchers. Yup. Just $1 from the dollar store. Kids LOVE the chance to fill and pour.
  9. Bath Tub Boats. These are great for floating at splash pads or racing down creeks. I got mine from Walmart. Linked HERE
  10. Lightweight Ball or Stomp Rockets. Both are great as extras. Stomp rockets linked HERE
  11. Sand Toy. I had this sand toy in our bag for a while and it just recently got lost. It was a love-hate item for Connor. Sometimes he really liked it, other times he despised it. Not sure if I will replace it. I linked it HERE.

I fill the water pitchers with all the little sand and water toys so they aren’t rolling around in the bag.

The Backup Bin

This is the bin where I keep all our random extras. The great thing is that this bin (just an 11″ soft collapsible bin made for storage cubbies like this) fits under Connor’s car seat perfectly. (I know in general you are supposed to limit items in the car for safety, but this is a choice that we’ve made for our family). This bin is where you want to keep stuff like:

  1. Swim Suit and Extra Set of Clothes. I also have these in our diaper bag, but it’s nice to have extras in case the diaper bag is ever not with us
  2. Baby Wipes
  3. Extra Diapers or Swim Diapers
  4. Rain Boots (We have the Lonecone brand linked HERE and I like them ok).
  5. Trampoline Park Socks (You know they will charge you an arm and a leg every time you forget yours)
  6. A Hat for Mom or Dad
  7. A Sweatshirt for Child, Mom, and Dad (and winter hat for child) Nothing more miserable than being cold while bonding outside with your also cold child
  8. Non-electronic Toys. My kid watches iPad in the car, but if something were to happen and the iPad weren’t available, these action figures, Montessori toys, and books would hopefully keep him occupied.

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