My children are big enough to not need many special accommodations, but when they were younger, just keeping their emergency supplies up to date (in other words, clothing that fit and food they would eat) could be a challenge! The truth is that little kids end up with a lot of emergencies, most of the potty, food, and otherwise messy variety. Parents already carry a lot of “emergency supplies” with them!
In a larger disaster, the challenges are determining what you need for a longer period, quite possibly away from home, and ways to keep your little one comfortable and content away from home. If you’re an expectant mother, you have your own set of unique needs.
Emergency needs for pregnant women
Given how swiftly needs change during pregnancy, your Bug Out Bag or emergency kit may not be up to date. You’ll probably want to add a month’s supply of prenatal vitamins, a portable water filter (hydration is extremely important and you may end up in an area with questionable water), a few Mylar pouches of water, high calorie nutrition bars, and antacid tablets. Another good addition is a small bottle of acetaminophen, deemed to be safe for pregnant women, Benadryl (can be helpful as a mild sleep aid, too), a laxative, and any other medications your doctor recommends.
Nutrition will be an extremely important consideration, so carefully consider the emergency food you have on hand. These store especially well:
- Canned or dry beans (naturally high in folate)
- Lentils and lentil soup
- Freeze-dried bananas for potassium and energy
- Freeze-dried and/or canned chicken (quick meals, great protein source)
- Eggs — dried eggs are handy and store well
- Oatmeal — Make your own “instant oatmeal” by briefly processing oats in a blender and adding dried fruit, dried milk, and a little sugar.
- Freeze-dried spinach — a good way to have a leafy green that stores long-term
- Orange drink powder — I don’t love the sugar content, but the Vitamin C is necessary and the sugar can give you a quick energy boost.
- Almonds, walnuts — a healthy source of fat
- Freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit
If you’re pregnant and have strange cravings, it wouldn’t hurt to add a few servings to your kit. If it’s something like Taco Bell Quesaritos, well, I guess you’ll just have to keep on hand a map of all Taco Bells within 100 miles or so!
Whatever you pack, it’s smart to keep a basic list with notations of where to find the items in case someone else needs to pack for you because you either aren’t home or aren’t feeling well. Pregnancy brain is infamous for making women forgetful, and so is sleep deprivation, which continues until at least when they start school. Lists are your friend!
Along with food and water, at a bare minimum, you will need pre-natal vitamins, any other medication, doctors’ diagnosis, and comfortable clothing with room to grow. If you have any kind of sleep or comfort aids, including wedge pillows, belly bands, etc. note it. If you have any medical issues, have up-to-date copies of your prescriptions and medical charts. It’s also a good idea to bring something from your doctor, like an ultrasound picture, that shows your Estimated Delivery Date. There may be restrictions (and extra assistance) once you reach a certain gestational point and the last thing you want is to be unable to prove either that those restrictions don’t apply to you or that you do rate the assistance (if needed) because you don’t “look” the way someone thinks you should.
If you are pregnant, part of your emergency preparedness should also include a “Plan B” for your birth. Few things are as scary to a pregnant woman as the prospect of birthing in unfamiliar or dangerous conditions. Mothers-to-be are busy enough making “Plan A” for their birth, most of us never even consider a “Plan B” that involves giving birth elsewhere because of evacuation or inability to get to a hospital. Even if your “Plan B” isn’t meticulously planned out, it’s helpful to have a general idea. Many birth classes go over what to do if you unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of an unplanned unassisted birth.
Some women have pregnancy-related bladder leakage problems. If you are one of them, pack accordingly. Even if you aren’t, be prepared for your water to break, even if you don’t think you are far enough along. A few extra maxi pads don’t take much space and if you don’t need them, you might help out another woman.
If I could go back in time I might not make the same decision, but I only used disposable diapers. Even so, I kept a pack of cloth diapers on hand, just in case of emergency. We still use them as dust-rags. If you don’t use them, you know they will definitely be in the bag in the event of a true emergency. After all, would you rather use a cloth diaper or dad’s shirt? It’s kind of a no-brainer when you think about it.
READ MORE: Want to learn more about the pros and cons of cloth diapers vs. disposables? Read this.
Diaper wipes and rash ointment are the other obvious needs. Even if your child rarely (or never) gets diaper rash, you could end up in a situation where you aren’t able to change them as often as you normally would or are forced to use a different brand of wipes or diapers, resulting in a rash.
If your little one is in the middle of potty-training, or has recently been potty-trained, the stress may cause them to regress, so be prepared. Bring plenty of diapers, pull-ups, wipes, extra big-kid or training underwear, and resealable bags for soiled clothing. A reusable wet bag is very helpful for containing all types of messes.
THINK ABOUT THIS: Pack a roll of dog waste bags in your emergency kits and diaper bag. One roll usually has 40 to 50 bags and these have infinite uses.
In an evacuation or other emergency situation, accidents can be even more of an issue. No one wants trapped in a car for hours with the smell of poopy diapers or vomit. Kids ‘n’ Pets is a great solution for that. There are foldable travel potty seats, although you may just want to bag the one they are used to and bring it along. Don’t forget a stool to help them reach the seat safely!
Food for infants and toddlers
If you are pregnant and have had cravings, try to plan for that. Some foods are easy to find, like the burritos I craved during one pregnancy. Others, not so much, especially regional or seasonal treats.
I joke that I was designed to be a wet nurse. When my son needed 20 ccs of milk, I was pumping 12 ounces. The amount of leakage was no joke. I was wet and uncomfortable for the first three months of my sons’ lives, then engorged and intermittently uncomfortable for at least another three after that before everything settled down. (For a more in-depth discussion of breast-feeding, keep your eyes out for a forthcoming post on subject.) If you are like me and produce lots of milk, pack lots of both disposable and reusable nursing pads, every bra that fits, and about four times as many shirts as you normally would if you have to evacuate. As long as you can do laundry, that should work out.
READ MORE: In a time of major crisis, the concept of wet-nursing may make a comeback. Read more here.
Whether you produce a lot of a little, definitely pack at least some nursing pads, whatever you use for privacy while nursing, your breast pump, bottles, and a bottle brush. If your breast pump has an option for a car power plug, buy and bring it along. That gives you more choices about when and where to pump, especially if you have a solar power source that has a similar power outlet. For a more portable option, consider a simple hand pump. It’s smaller and requires no electricity, but the trade-off is that it is not as efficient as an electric pump.
Bring two or three times as much as you think you’ll need. It is all too easy to spill or lose items, especially away from home. This is especially important if your child is picky or has dietary restrictions. If they do, make a note of places you can order more online, chains that often carry it
It may sound obvious, but don’t forget water to mix the formula, and a small bottle of dish detergent (with a bottle brush) to clean everything after each feeding. Bonus points if you bring a small dish basin, which can also double as a small toy corral. Double bonus points if water can be heated on that basin to allow warming bottles. (Grills are available at many rest-stops and campsites.) Depending on the situation, you may also need a way to filter and treat the water to make it potable.
READ MORE: Wondering about all the different water filters out there? Read this for more information.
For at-home emergencies, you still need a way to heat water both to warm formula for feedings and to adequately clean and sterilize all parts of the bottles in case there is a power outage. A Sun Oven can heat water to pasteurization temperature and is also helpful for heating and cooking food when the power is out.
First Foods and Snacks
With small children, pickiness definitely comes into play at meal and snack time. If you know your toddler will absolutely melt down if they do not have Honey Nut Cheerios mid-afternoon, be sure to grab an extra two or three boxes as soon as any potential weather disaster enters the forecast. Include these on your packing list because they are as essential as diapers and formula for your sanity and well-being.
Small amounts of snacks can be kept in Ziploc bags or sealed using a Food Saver. Try giving your kids various freeze dried foods, such as freeze-dried yogurt bites and get them accustomed to the taste and texture. When you purchase these in either pouches or the smaller #2.5 size cans, they are lightweight and very packable when it comes to getting an emergency kit ready or having extra food on hand for the duration of an emergency.
If you make your own baby or toddler food, bring the basic equipment you need. Don’t assume it will be available wherever you end up. This may be as simple as a stick blender, scooper (or one of the new “spoonulas” – a great invention in my humble opinion), and a bowl.
Back before most audio music was purely digital, we old-timers listened to our favorites on CDs and owned small carrying cases to hold our favorite disks. These same carrying cases can hold DVDs, and that makes them take less space while still protecting them. As soon as it starts looking like you may need to evacuate, select the DVDs the kids will tantrum without, along with some family favorites to enjoy as “family movie” time. If you have time, a brand new DVD is a great way to provide a fun surprise and a few hours of quiet time for mom and dad.
CHECK THIS OUT: Our list of survival movies with a romantic edge.
Pack a portable DVD player or a laptop with TV connector cables so you can watch them. If you have Amazon Prime, toss in the Fire Stick and remote, but know that you may not be able to access it when you get where you are going. Favorite books (especially for bedtime), read aloud chapter books, coloring books (including adult coloring pages for older kids), and electronic devices also go a long way toward making long trips less unpleasant.
If you have time, create a few new music playlists for the trip – or have the kids do it! Then they’ll have something fun to listen to. You may even want to download some new tunes to surprise them. Perhaps a soundtrack you don’t hate from one of their movies?
Naps for all!
Babies are often quite content to nap either on a blanket or in their car seat. A blanket that blocks out the light and dampens the noise can be thrown over a stroller or car seat in a pinch. I’ve always kept small Gymboree blankets and a few towels rolled up and stored beneath the back seat just for this reason.
If your baby is used to sleeping in a Pack ‘n Play on a regular basis, those are fairly easy to pack and move.
Toddlers may not be quite as easy to put down for a nap as babies. They are infamous for being picky about when and where they nap. In an emergency, there will probably be a lot of commotion and stimulation making napping difficult. At the very least, there will be a new environment, which is not relaxing or safe-feeling for a young child.
The easiest solution is to have a small tent or shelter for them to sleep in. Let them use it at home, too, so it is already familiar. The Privacy Pop is a great solution is you want something that goes over an entire bed, including the mattress. An inexpensive tent or play space works, too.
Bring them. You don’t want to abandon them and the kids will probably flip out if you try. They may even endanger themselves and others by going back into a dangerous situation to rescue their beloved pet. This will require some advanced planning, and is the subject of another post, but a few advance phone calls should help you find a place where your pet is welcome along with the family.
READ MORE: Pets have always been a popular topic on The Survival Mom blog. Here are a few articles that will help you get your beloved pets ready for emergencies:
Clothing tips for pregnant moms, babies, and toddlers
Finally, remember that babies go through about six to seven outfits per day. Pack your 72 hr kit accordingly. They’ll also need blankets. If you have to bug out on foot, ditch the 40-lb baby carrier/ carseat. Invest in a wrap, or make one yourself. Wraps are more comfortable than other baby carriers because they put the weight of the child onto your hips instead of your shoulders and upper back. Wraps have the added benefit of leaving your hands free and any other adult or older child/teen can also “wear” the baby.
If your toddlers suffer from what we call “sock bump anxiety disorder,” make sure that you have non-bumpy socks in their kids. Whatever their size, check their bug out bags regularly to make sure their clothing, socks, and shoes are a good fit.
For a pregnant mother-to-be, loose clothing, socks, and comfortable shoes are a must. If you find that your feet swell during the day, plan on wearing socks or slippers and bring along a firm pillow or small step stool to elevate your legs. Some pregnant women tend to be cold, no matter where they are. If this describes you, store a sweater or another warm and cozy outer layer with your emergency supplies.
Preppers come in every shape, size, age, and physical condition. It’s smart to consider now, ahead of a crisis, what you will need to prepare so that each of your loved ones is equipped to handle an everyday emergency or a worst case scenario.
Other “Special Needs Preppers” in this series: