Bugging Out with Babies and Toddlers

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By Diane Vukovic

This article was adapted from the book Disaster Preparedness for Women. The book covers the fundamentals of prepping in 52 clear-cut steps. Whether you are new to prepping or a more experienced prepper, you will find the info, guides, and checklists in the book valuable. Get it here.

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)
    • Stroller
    • Carrier and trekking poles
    • Child-sized N95 respirator or hood (talk to your pediatrician about this)
    • Multivitamins

In the book Disaster Preparedness for Women you can learn more about family Bug Out Bags as well as how to make an emergency plan, what hunker down supplies you need, and how to keep your family safe. Get the book here.

Do you have any tips?

Do you have any other suggestions for bugging out with baby? Please share them in the comments!

About Diane

Diane Vukovic is a mother of two, an avid backpacker, and an outdoor adventurer. She writes for the prepping website Primal Survivor and also runs Mom Goes Camping.

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  • Since we have Grandchildren, ranging from 4 to tweens, their BOBs are personalized sling packs. It is easier to assemble for the older children than the younger, simply because of the “at what age do you teach a child to build a fire, and other individual survival skills” questions. So each bag contains some across the board essentials, a Lifestraw, SOS Survival Bars, poncho, E-Sack and E blanket, whistle, compass, flashlights, walkie talkies, spare batteries, travel coloring book and small selection of crayons, puzzle toy, age appropriate First Aid kit, hard candies, canteen with metal cup, spork, instant oatmeal and cup o soup packets, toiletries. For the older children there is fire starting materials, and a multifoil.
    Our oldest grandson and granddaughter, have learned to use every item in their bag. They’re little brother just turned 4, so it will be a couple of years before we teach him about the other needs. Expose him to them of course. Our daughter’s family is in another town, but her children are both toddlers, so it will be a few years before they’re ready to be exposed to prepping.

  • Have you looked at deer carts? Game haulers, they are sometimes called. Some carry 250 lbs, some 500. They have big fat tires that don’t look as if they would bog down like strollers would. They could be modified in all sorts of ways–attach a stroller body, a bike basket or other arrangement for “stuff.” More duffles, backpacks, etc., can all go on there while you carry baby.
    Just a thought that occurred to me. I had looked at them for myself, but that was before my age made bugging best solution. They are also not too expensive. One I saw for the 250 lb load is about $70.

  • My daughter always had a bike trailer ready when her kids were toddlers. I liked the fact that it zipped up to keep bugs away from them. The jogging strollers look pretty good also since they have large wheels.

    However, if you had to ditch either one of those it would be a hard sacrifice. There are lots of comfortable slings that you would need to have as well. In an uncertain bugout, babies will know something is wrong and want to be carried so they can hold on to you.

  • This topic brings to mind the M.A.S.H. episodes when infants were smothered to death to prevent them from crying and giving away their location.

    I would seriously consider that scenario before bugging out as an option.

    Almost everything in this life is outside the sphere of our influence or control, but I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

    Since the baby can’t be kept quiet with 100% certainty, the best advice I can think of is to be in places where it won’t matter how much noise they make.

    I’d make that priority #1 when planning a bug out route.

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