How to Change Your Kid’s Diapers Anytime and Anywhere

Diapering tips for adventurous parents and babies.

This story was produced in partnership with our friends at Babyganics, whose mission is to help families prepare for all of baby’s adventures.

Every day is an adventure when you have a baby. As such, whether you’re going to the park, napping at home, or taking on a more ambitious journey, you always have to be equally well-prepared.

One big reason for this, as rock climber Tim Kemple bluntly puts it, is that “when you have a baby you have exponentially more poop in your life.” Kemple, a documentarian and father to one-year-old Emerson isn’t exactly complaining: This is a guy who has perched on plenty of portaledges (those hammock-like things climbers sleep in on cliff sides) and carried his own feces in PVC pipe tubes up and down cliffs to leave no trace.

But Kemple knows that a baby has no “leave no trace” ethics and will usually make a mess at the most inopportune times. This is why all parents need to have their bags filled with diapers and wipes — as well as a few tips and tricks like the ones below to get you through more precarious diapering ordeals.

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Remember, every day is an adventure with baby — so parents should be prepared.

Location: In the Airplane Bathroom
Jeff Mindell, public speaker and father to one-year-old Arlo, learned how to handle a diaper explosion in the sky the hard way. In the two hours between LA and Seattle, everything that could go wrong in Arlo’s pants did. “We had dressed Arlo in an expensive, brand new knit jumper because we wanted him to look good for his first flight,” Mindell says. “Then there was a full blowout and I was stuck in this 2- by 2-foot canister of an airplane bathroom. We had to throw out that jumper.” Luckily, Wendell and his wife Kelly had a clean, less-expensive onesie on hand to change Arlo into so he was clean and fresh by the time the wheels of the plane touched down.
Pro Tip: Always pack an extra onesie — especially at 30,000 feet.

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Location: In a Gondola
It’s important to put something underneath your baby’s bottom — whether it’s a portable changing pad or your new fleece (dad’s gotta sacrifice sometimes). But you also need to keep something to keep that squirmer from falling off. In the gas station bathroom? You should use the actual belt. But on the bench seat of the gondola in the Rockies? Try your arm.
Pro Tip: Always use a “seatbelt” and one hand to hold a squirmy baby — so they don’t roll around, make a mess or, worst case, fall.

Location: On the Trail
We hate to break it to you, but there’s no comfortable way to make a changing table out of the flat overhang on mile two of the Fairy Loop trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s a lesson Kemple learned early on after Emerson’s birth. Instead of hiking in to remote campsites, Kemple and his wife, Kate, opt to camp with the car at designated campgrounds and take day hikes into the wilderness. That way they can get their daily dose of nature, but still come back to running sinks, flushing toilets, and waste receptacles. “With car camping, there’s a little less prep that needs to happen,” he says. “If something goes wrong then there’s running water right there.”
Pro Tip: When they’re little, make your base camp near a well-stocked facility and take short hikes from there.

Location: On the Road
Have to change a diaper at mile marker 59 of I-90 between Bozeman and Laramie on a road trip and you’re trying to make it all the way to Santa Fe? Bring some lavender or lemongrass oil to help clear the air. For more serious scents in small spaces a citrusy or minty product sprayed in the room or placed near dirty diapers (never directly on the baby) will do the best masking of the smell.
Pro Tip: survey of sanitation workers and nurses found that a dab of essential oil across the upper lip would help those workers get through a particularly pungent day.

Location: The Backcountry Beach
You’re at Popham Beach in Maine enjoying a blustery day with your family. Then, your little one needs to be changed. That’s when you realize that soft warm sand is really a scratchy, skin-irritating beast, at least if it gets into a diaper. So how will you ever get away from all this sand? That’s why you pack a diaper-dedicated towel, emergency blanket, or other cloth whenever you’ll be around sand. Make sure the surface is large enough to accommodate a baby rolling left and right (as they do).
Pro Tip: If you’re really in a bind, the triple-diaper trick can save you from a mess. Open up two diapers and stack them under your little one’s diapered toosh. Unfasten the soiled diaper, wipe and clean your baby, and then fasten the middle diaper. The bottom diaper is there to keep them dirt (and sand) free — although this technique doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.