Building a Go Bag for just yourself is challenging enough. When you have to calculate family members into the plan – especially babies or toddlers – things can get really complicated.
There’s no one perfect solution. You have to think about what makes sense for your family and what disasters you are preparing for. Here are some insights and things to think about when making Bug Out Bags for babies and small children.
Planning a BOB Bag for Babies or Toddlers
If you have small children, it’s even more important you make a solid evacuation plan which includes a safe bug out location. You need to be prepared to leave quickly and early so you can avoid crowds and worsening weather and travel conditions. Hopefully you have your own vehicle so you can keep it packed and get on the road quickly.
But even the best-laid plans can go to hell.
Always keep Bug Out Bags ready to go. Pack them with the idea you might have to ditch your vehicle and walk, potentially through rain, deep water, at night, or in other really terrible conditions.
Bug Out Gear for Babies and Toddlers
Ideally, a Bug Out Bag should weigh no more than 20% of your body weight. Otherwise the bag will be too heavy to carry, especially if you have to go over tough terrain or run. However, there’s really not a good way to travel light with a baby in tow. They need supplies like diapers, wipes, creams, bottles, and formula.
I personally found it easier to travel with infants than toddlers. Infants might cry a lot and use up more diapers, but they are content to cuddle in a front carrier. By contrast, my toddler wants to constantly run around. I worry about losing her in crowds as well as keeping her clean when she decides to run through a giant puddle.
If you aren’t sure what items you really need for evacuating with your small kids, I recommend going on a family camping trip. Even better, go on a backpacking trip. You’ll get a crash course in what it’s like to get by with minimal supplies as well as what’s essential versus what’s nice to have.
Below are some of the key Bug Out gear you need for babies and small children. At the end of the article, you can find a complete list of baby BOB items.
Strollers and Carriers
My younger daughter is currently 18 months old. She’s already over 20lbs. Combined with the weight of my Bug Out Bag, it’s a lot to carry! Luckily I’ve got a pretty tough stroller I could use to push her as well as haul her supplies. But strollers aren’t exactly the ideal solution for evacuating.
In 2015, I witnessed firsthand the Syrian refugee plight in Europe. I remember seeing Syrian refugees with children trying to roll strollers through thick mud and over rough terrain. Many ended up abandoning the strollers and carrying their kids instead. Others were forced to abandon the strollers when entering cramped boats or buses.
I’d recommend getting a good baby carrier for your child to have as a backup to a stroller. Most carriers are backpack style, which means you’d have to wear your Go Bag on your front. Or you could get a front carrier for your child and wear the Bug Out Bag on your back. Neither option is ideal because you easily get off-balanced and can topple over.
After carrying my heavy baby on many hikes, I’ve learned that trekking poles are a Godsend. They allow me to stay balanced even when carrying a heavy weight and help redistribute the weight so there isn’t as much strain on my back.
Even with a good stroller, be realistic about what shape you are in. Can you actually carry your child and a Bug Out Bag for a long distance? This illustrates how important it is to have a solid evacuation plan and leave as soon as you can and hopefully won’t end up carrying your child.
For clothing, choose items that can be worn in layers to regulate temperature better. It also makes it easier to keep kids clean.
Backpacking with my children taught me that rain suits are a parent’s best friend. You can let your kids crawl or run freely without having to worry about them getting wet and covered in mud. When you only have three changes of clothes packed for your kids, you definitely don’t want them to get wet or dirty!
Even if you exclusively breastfeed your child, you’ll still want to stockpile infant formula. There are scenarios where you could end up injured or separated from your baby and unable to breastfeed. While it isn’t common, there are also situations where a mother’s milk “dries up,” such as from stress, illness, poor diet, and certain medications.
The main issue with formula is that you need to sterilize the bottles and nipples. You’ll also need to make sure your hands are clean beforehand. This is especially important in disaster situations where contaminants are all around.
You could pack a stove, pot, and extra water for sterilizing bottles. However, it takes a lot of time and water to get the bottles and nipples clean. An alternative option is to pack “bottle sterilizing tablets.” To use the tablets, you put the clean bottles and nipples in clean water then add a tablet and let everything soak. Yes, this method still requires extra water, but not nearly as much as with traditional sterilization methods.
You can also avoid sterilizing completely by using pre-sterilized bottles or bottle liners. While these are more expensive, it is probably worth getting at least three days’ worth for your Bug Out Bag.
You’ll want to pack at least three days’ worth of diapers in your Bug Out Bag. You can save space by vacuum sealing diapers.
You might end up needing a lot more diapers than this though. As a backup, you could pack several cloth diapers and covers. It’s really impractical to try to clean cloth diapers while bugging out, but it’s better to have them than risk running out of diapers.
Consider packing diapers or Pull-Ups for potty-trained children too. The last thing you or your child wants to worry about during a disaster is potty accidents.
Baby/Toddler Bug Out Bag Gear Checklist
These items are in addition to the other BOB gear you need, such as food, shelter, a knife, and survival tools.
- • Baby formula or food
• Pre-sterilized bottles and nipples, disposable bottle inserts, and/or bottle sterilizing tablets
• Baby medications
• Diaper changing kit
• Disposable diapers
• Several cloth diapers and covers
• 2-3 changes of clothing for layering
• Extra underwear for potty-trained children
• Rain suit
• Plastic bags for soiled clothes
• Sleeping bag or sack
• Toys/comfort items
• Pacifiers with clips
• Child harness and leash (for walking children; useful so you don’t lose your child in crowds)
• Carrier and trekking poles
• Child-sized N95 respirator or hood (talk to your pediatrician about this)
A week ago, we posted an article on cooking the dry beans from your food storage. Here’s one from The Organic Prepper that has recipes for using those beans in ways you may not have thought previously – 11 Delicious Ways to Use Those Dry Beans You Stockpiled. The author, Diane Vukovic, is also the author of the book Disaster Preparedness for Women.
Dry beans are one of the best disaster foods to stockpile. They are nutritious, cheap, and last for years when stored properly. But then disaster strikes and you suddenly have to figure out how you are going to use all of those beans. Eating rice and beans gets boring quickly!
I’m lucky because my family already eats beans almost daily. So, when COVID-19 struct and we tapped into our food stockpiles, our diet didn’t change much. Here are some of the bean recipes my family is eating now. Even my kids like most of these.
Tip: When building up your disaster food stockpile, think about how you will use the foods in meals. Otherwise, you could end up with a lot of foods you don’t like. Or you might end up with disproportionate amounts of food, like 30lbs of pasta but not sauce to go on it.
In my book Disaster Preparedness for Women, I show exactly how to plan a food stockpile so you can make healthy, balanced meals. The book also covers all the preparedness essentials so you are ready for anything. Get the book here.
Here are 11 tasty ways to use dried beans
Try these delicious dried bean recipes.
1. Red Bean Pasta Sauce
This disaster recipe couldn’t be easier. Just blend (or mash) 1 cup of cooked pinto beans with 1 cup of tomato sauce to make 4 generous servings. Add seasonings like salt, basil, and oregano to taste. Serve over pasta.
2. Chickpea Nuggets
Of all the beans, chickpeas are the most kid-friendly. They also don’t have as much water as other beans, so are easier to form into burgers, balls, or nuggets. I like this recipe which uses oats to hold the nuggets together. If you don’t have breadcrumbs or cornflakes you can just use more blended oats for the coating. You can also omit the nutritional yeast.
3. White Bean and Olive Oil “Alfredo” Sauce
Here’s another easy bean sauce for pasta. Just blend (or mash) 1 cup of cooked white beans and ¼ cup of olive oil or butter to make the base. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, parmesan, and a splash of lemon juice to make a delicious creamy sauce for pasta.
*You can also sneak this sauce into mac n’ cheese so your kids get more protein without even realizing it.
4. Lentil Bread
Whenever I make bread, I sneak in some extra nutrition. How? I add things like blended kale, pulverized dried mushrooms, or bean puree. The bread comes out great and my kids eat it up.
To make, remove about ½ cup of water from your bread recipe and replace it with ½ cup of bean puree. If the dough ends up being too wet, add more flour…
5. Bean Burgers and Sausages
Beans and lentils can easily be turned into burgers or sausages. All you need to do is:
- Make sure the beans are drained very well or the burgers will fall apart. Lentils are particularly wet so I’ll squeeze them by hand to remove the water.
- Pulse in a food processor with some cooked veggies and seasonings. If you have egg, add an egg to the mixture.*
- Add oats, breadcrumbs, or flour (oats and breadcrumbs work best because they absorb moisture and hold the burgers together well). Keep adding until you form a mixture that sticks together.
- Form into burger or sausage shapes. Bake or fry.
*Egg acts like glue to hold the burgers together. If you don’t have egg, you can usually just omit the egg and the recipe will still work. Another option is to use flax or chia seeds instead of egg. These become a bit like glue when wet and do a good job of holding burgers together. I’ve got a massive stockpile of flax at home specifically for this purpose!
6. Black Bean Brownies
I know this one probably sounds weird, but you can’t taste the black beans the brownies at all. It ends up being a protein-packed treat and your kids don’t even realize they are eating beans. I like this recipe which is simple to make with disaster staples…(continues)