What to Put in a Bug-Out Bag for Toddlers

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices

Have you ever considered a bug-out bag for your little ones? Well, imagine this: disaster has struck, and you decide to get your family out of the house and head for the hills. One of those family members happens to be a toddler. While you’ve undoubtedly built your bug-out bag for such an event, what about a bug-out bag for toddlers? 

Sure, many people with small children stash things for the kids in their bug-out bags. But, wouldn’t it be wise to have a special bag just for them? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a toddler bug-out bag and what should go in those bags. 

Pros of a bug-out bag for toddlers

Imagine you and your family are on your way to your survival retreat, and there’s a roadblock up ahead where gunfire has just erupted. You have no chance of turning around, and you’re a two-day hike from your destination. Do you and your kids have what it takes to make the walk?

It’s important to ensure that your family has what they need to stay safe at all times. Particularly during events such as hurricanes, floods, wild fires, and even civil unrest and riots. You need to quickly throw essentials in the car and get the heck out of dodge in these situations. Should anything push you out into the woods or knock you off course as you journey to your BOL, having ready-to-go BOBs could be life-savers. Having a bug-out bag for your toddler can also help ensure an easier getaway. 

Two main advantages of a toddler BOB

#1: Space-saver

Face it. Kids gear is bulky. Whether we’re talking about diapers, blankies, toys, or whatever else, it all takes up space in your pack. You need to carry as many of the items necessary to survive as possible in your BOB. 

If you can’t carry much food with you because you have a bunch of diapers taking up space, you have to find a solution. A toddler BOB can be a small part of that solution.

#2: Comfort items close to the kids

Many kids don’t do well if they know their favorite toy is just out of reach. They want to KNOW their favorite item is there with them. Having it in the mini BOL will help do just that. While you may be able to live a spartan lifestyle, your kid cannot. They need the small comforts that you deem unnecessary to survive. For a kid, they are necessary.

Cons of a bug-out bag for toddlers

The main thing that sucks about a toddler’s BOB is that you’re eventually going to end up carrying it. If you’re evacuating from a hurricane and can quickly toss your kid’s BOB into the SUV as you head for relatives in Tennessee, then this is no big deal.

If you’re trekking 20 miles through the woods to your mountain retreat as you avoid enemy invaders, that’s a bit of a different story. Your kid will help to carry their BOB, but that’s all they’re doing – helping. You, as the adult, are primarily responsible for ensuring everyone and everything gets from Point A to Point B.

What to pack in a bug-out bag for toddlers

The main thing I think about with a toddler BOB is saving myself space in my own kit. Remember, that’s space, not weight. There’s a huge difference between the two. If you load your kid down with all kinds of heavy items, they will not go anywhere. Your toddler’s BOB should not weigh any more than 1-2lbs. 

First you will need the bag. If your child already has one that is lightweight and durable you can use that. If you need one here is a fantastic, lightweight and super cute bag from Dueter.

Favorite toy

Every kid has their favorite toy, and as a parent, you know how devastating it can be to them to lose it. I consider this to be the first necessity for a toddler’s BOB. Kids need routine, and losing their favorite belonging hurts my heart and is a huge deal in the world of a little kid. Cut the crap about “it’s not a necessity.” You love your kid. Pack their dang toy.

Small blanket

Your kid may very well have their favorite blankie. Some of these are no larger than a dishrag. Others are kid-sized. Either way, it will fit in your toddler’s BOB saving you quite a bit of space in your BOB. Also, you won’t be adding unnecessary weight to your kid’s bag.

Snacks

I focus on dry goods here. A few little bags of gummies and Goldfish are the only things I add to this category. I avoid pouches as they’re a heavier food item compared to dry goods. I can carry those.

A Raincoat

A little raincoat rolled up doesn’t weigh much and can easily be carried by a toddler. I consider Rainproof clothing an essential component of a BOB, and your child needs protection from the elements. A raincoat can be a little piece of the puzzle to help do such.

Diapers

By no means would I make the kid carry his entire stash of diapers. I don’t see a problem with 2-3 being in here, though. They’re light items that a kid can carry with ease. And, they will be as easy to get to as possible as the daily accidents happen.

Small Flashlight

These don’t need to be super fancy. Just something small and easy to use.

What NOT to pack in a bug-out bag for toddlers

Liquids

You have to have water with you in your BOB, but don’t make your kid carry it. Water is heavy. You are the one that carries liquids and sippy cups.

Wipes

Wipes saturated with liquid are heavy. Don’t make your kid have a weight strapped to their back. Figure out a way to make room for the wipes in your own BOB.

Actual survival gear

Do you only have one fire striker? Is it a good idea to put that in the hands of a 2-year-old in a survival situation? I don’t think so. If it’s essential to life, the kid doesn’t get to carry it—end of story.

Anything dangerous

This should be a no-brainer. If the item is potentially dangerous, your kid doesn’t need to have it in their pack. Odds are they’ll open up their bag at some point when you’re not looking. Be responsible and keep the dangerous stuff on your person.

“Da’ee, look! I ha’ bahpah TOO!”

Many of you know the physical and emotional toll disasters can have on people. Just think of the toll on young children. The mental and emotional well-being of your kids is just as important as their physical well-being. Teaching them to be resilient and competent will help with this.

Help give them a sense of security by talking to them, in a way they can understand, about these situations and what you expect from them. Make sure to involve them in crafting a bug-out/evacuation plan for your family. A toddler BOB is a cool way for a toddler to “help” and keep some of their essentials as easy to access as possible.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you agree or disagree with the steps I lay out here? Are there other tweaks you would make? What would you put in a bug-out bag for toddlers? Let me know in the comments below!

About Aden

Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com, TheFrugalite.com, PewPewTactical.comSurvivalBlog.comSHTFBlog.comApartmentPrepper.comHomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer, he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Aden Tate

Aden Tate

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  • 20 years ago when I was worried about BOB’s I had two working dogs. All the kids stuff got spread between the dogs panniers in their harness packs.

    Worked better than worrying about the kids and I never once heard my dogs complain.

  • Sounds great. I’m a wee bit past the toddler stage with my kids but in a real emergency having their own pack where they felt like they were contributing would have helped them feel better. If that sounds weird I do admit to having strange children.

  • I had full very heavy packaging for each kid. This would have been helpful. Cause that was 15 years ago and they are able to carry their own packs now!
    The only thing I would suggest to add to the kids own pack is a change of clothes. I taught my kids that a change of socks, the thing that most often gets wet, should always be in their bag, and its been great when it actually happens! Tiny kid socks would add to the weight much, also extra hat or mittens.

  • Very nice article
    Great ideas well thought out n a great way to help kids help out n feel more included n valued.
    I have no children but do have a dig with a bug out bag in our vehicle n our home with duplicate preferred items, food n treats.
    Thank you for providing a new way of looking at preparedness for parents.

  • Having raised 5 kids I can assure you that they are quick at taking off things. So I would have some kind of secure closure in the front to keep the child from removing it and just dropping it along the way. If the child wants it off you can help them remove it. Also the kids flashlight should be anchored to something with a cord or something for the same reason. But if it’s attached to the outside of the pack the child would probably be amused for quite a while while walking ☺

  • We started BOBS for each of our Grandkids years ago, when they were Toddlers. Most of what the Author has on his list, was what we kept in their bags. A small stuffed toy, age appropriate travel activity book and crayons, diapers (Though all were potty trained by 2), microfleece blankie (Walmart $5) I cut these in 1/2 and serge the edge. They’re just about right for a toddler, allowing a little room to grow., flashlight, poncho and snacks. Each, has his/her own Lifestraw.
    As the kids grew, Items were changed out for age appropriate. By the teens, a wrist rocket slingshot, ammo, and a first aid kit, compass, small Swiss army knife and so on. It all depends upon the maturity of the child and how much responsibility you think they’re capable of.
    Their first bags were smaller slingbacks. The 2 oldest are now big enough for adult size sling packs. Their bags filled weigh about 10 – 11 pounds.

    Another thing we add is a small walkie talkie with extra batteries when the kids are about 8. The Bell South T 388’s are inexpensive ($10 each on Amazon). Testing, depending upon terrain, is a 1/4 to 1/2 mile.

    We take the Grandkids camping every summer, and we’ll spend 2 to 3 days as primitive as we can get. Once they’re 2nd or 3rd grade, compasses go in their packs and we spend time learning orienteering. Make a game out of it, and it’s fun while learning a valuable skill.

  • Good article, thanks.
    I have little ones and since they could walk they have had their own backpacks that are more EDCs but also work as BOBs. Here what we use after a few years of using them for routine and minor emergency:
    – fun pattern/design. It may make you cringe, but they are more likely to want to carry (and less likely to forget) their sparkly rainbow unicorn backpack! Plus it makes them easier to spot.
    – as another commenter has said: a buckle across the chest is so useful to stop little ones taking it off and makes it more comfortable for bigger ones too. Also, you can clip a lead on and use it like “child reins” to keep your child close and safe in busy/stressful times (and no I don’t care if you think it’s weird – it could save my toddler from running under a truck etc.)
    – I also write our surname and our mobile numbers inside the backpacks in bold writing (and make the kids aware of this), mainly in case we get separated, then they have a way to reconnect with us. They wear their backpacks on “adventures” in unfamiliar/crowded places but this would also be useful if we were ever separated in an emergency.
    – I do disagree with water, as there have been times when I’ve had to hand a child quickly over to another family member, and it’s very useful to know that they have their favourite sippy cup with a little water in that can be refilled by anyone – keep it empty if you’re worried about weight.
    – I agree with some distractions like a colouring book and dry snacks – it can be really important to keep a child calm and busy when you have other things to deal with.
    – we put a lightweight but fully covering change of clothes in ours (plus extra socks and pants) and a warm hat/sun hat depending on the seasons. They are in a sealed ziplock bag to keep them dry and it can save space. They also have a pack away rain coat.

    What I have realised from the article is that they have no blankets! I think I’ll chop up a lightweight fleece one or two to share between them.

  • can’t stress the need to thoroughly ID your smaller children >> set of metal / hard plastic “dog tags” – ID written on the thigh with a laundry pen and if they are carrying anything they wouldn’t part with >> have the ID on there also …

  • Great article. I have a toddler myself and have been toying with the idea of a small BOB for him. The only thing I would add that isn’t on the list are a couple of small laminated recent pictures of mom and dad, for identification purposes in the case of seperation. And maybe a card with blood type and allergies listed on it. Be well ya’ll!

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