Written by Rebeca Trabachini for Nannies Plus

Every nanny or family assistant has probably wished for a Mary Poppins bag at least once…

…and while this kind of bag is not for retail sale (yet!), we want to share with you some essentials to make your go-to nanny bag as magical as possible. This list goes beyond the basic diapers, wipes, snacks, and water, and is full of items that will make your life easier and hopefully save you from at least a few meltdowns and tantrums.

First, think about using a backpack or a fanny pack, or anything that will keep your hands free to hold your charges’ hands in the parking lot. You can take it one step further and have a larger bag ready to go for all-day outings, as well as a smaller one for quick trips to the park or walks around the neighborhood.

Even though some people say we do not have a change of seasons in the Bay Area, it is better to be prepared for sudden weather shifts (or diaper blowouts) with a change of clothes. The combo light pants + t-shirt + light jacket is a must-have in your bag.

Tissues (or napkins or face cloths) are always necessary; we can never predict a runny nose. The younger the children, the more you should bring!

We cannot stress enough how important it is to apply sunscreen to protect little ones’ skin. There are many mini & travel-sized types that you can also keep in your purse or personal bag if you want to save space in the nanny bag. 

Many nannies or family assistants might add a complete first aid kit if the nanny bag is roomy enough, but a package of bandages and an antiseptic cream are good for smaller adventures to the playground or a playdate, and they’ll fit in a fanny pack. And of course, if your charge needs time-sensitive medication while you’re on the go, uses an inhaler, or has allergies requiring an EpiPen to be handy for emergencies, be sure you include those in your bag as well.

A plastic grocery bag or a large ziplock is a multi-purpose item that can be used to hold everything from trash when there’s no nearby trash disposal, to storage for wet or soiled clothing, to a to-go bag for leftovers from snacktime!

Hand sanitizer should also be in every caregiver’s bag. In case you cannot find running water and soap for handwashing before a snack or a meal, hand sanitizer is the go-to to avoid germs and keep your charges’ hands as clean as possible.

We all know how easily children can get antsy.

When you’re out and about, it is not always a simple task to divide your attention between an older sibling and a baby during diaper changes so don’t forget to pack a favorite toy! Another idea is to bring along a small notepad with pencils or crayons that can be used to draw or play tic-tac-toe with your older ones when keeping them patient is necessary. For longer rides in the car, water art and invisible ink pads are reasonably mess-free distractions for toddlers and older.

Finally, for a fully stocked nanny bag, consider adding a pouch or wallet with museum and zoo membership cards, a list of emergency contacts and medical information for your charges, petty cash from your employer, and an extra set of keys, just in case!

Every situation is unique, so play with this list by adding special items that are specific to you and your nanny kids. Small or travel-friendly items you would reach for regularly at home are nice to have on-to-go too! Holding anything from lip balm to a favorite book, to a deck of cards, your nanny bag can be just the fundamentals, or as all-encompassing as you’d like!