Navigating the new mom journey brings a whirlwind of parenting experiences, from mastering swaddling and feeding to the art of diapering and burping. You’ll soon become a pro at these tasks. However, one inevitable question arises as you embark on outings with your precious one: What are the diaper bag essentials?
Consider the diaper bag your ultimate survival kit, serving as both your baby’s lifeline and your everyday purse. It’s crucial to ensure it’s packed with all the necessary items to address any unexpected situations.
When it comes to assembling your diaper bag, my mantra is: Better safe than sorry. I advocate for being overly prepared, anticipating those rare just-in-case moments. So, in addition to the essential items, it’s wise to include some items for those occasional occurrences.
Diaper Bag Essentials Packing Tips
- Have items in there for spur-of-the-moment times: in case there is a change of plans. For example, keeping a bib and an extra baby spoon may not be something you will need all the time, but the one time your bestie asks you out to lunch after your mall trip, you don’t want to have to pass it up because you’re not prepared.
- Prioritize Necessities: Avoid overloading your diaper bag to the point where it becomes cumbersome to carry all day. Leave items that you rarely use in a small backup bag in your car. This way, you’ll have quick access to them if needed, but they won’t weigh you down throughout your day.
- Adapt to Your Baby’s Needs: As you become more attuned to your baby’s preferences and requirements, adjust the contents of your diaper bag accordingly. Babies’ needs change as they grow, start eating solid foods, and develop new interests. Keep the bag evolving to cater to your baby’s evolving needs.
- Regularly Restock: After returning home from an outing, take the time to restock your diaper bag. This habit ensures that your bag is always ready for the next adventure, saving you the hassle of scrambling to gather essentials as you rush out the door.
- Be Prepared for Spontaneity: Include items in your diaper bag for those unexpected moments when plans change suddenly. For instance, carrying a bib and an extra baby spoon might not seem essential for every outing, but if your friend invites you for lunch after a mall trip, you’ll be ready to seize the opportunity without hesitation.
Remember, the key to a well-organized diaper bag is flexibility and foresight. By adapting to your baby’s changing needs and keeping your bag ready for any situation, you’ll be well-prepared for the adventures of parenthood.
Below is my guide on what to pack in your diaper bag for everyday trips or longer getaways.
What’s In My Diaper Bag
I’ve almost never been unprepared for any situation when I keep these items with me at all times. You can store multiples of these items in your back-up bag that you leave in the car to make sure that you never run run out.
So what’s in my diaper bag that makes me always ready and willing to be out all day with my babies? Here’s the list!
What to Carry in a Diaper Bag for Newborn
Well, this is the obvious “don’t-leave-home-without-it” item. But how many is enough? Depending on the age of your baby will determine how many you should have handy.
Newborns go through 10-12 diapers a day, but chances are you won’t be out for that long with your newborn. For little ones, I usually keep about 5 in my diaper bag and another 5 in my backup bag in the car so I can replenish for a long trip if needed.
2. Pack of wipes
I like to use a small travel pack of wipes because the large ones can get quite heavy in my bag. The small Water Wipes travel packs are a perfect size and take up less room. I will also keep an extra travel pack in my back-up bag because you can go through those pretty quickly, especially with a newborn. However, if you’re using a standard size wipe pack, you should only need one.
Related Post: Best Natural Baby Wipes
3. Changing pad
Your diaper bag most likely came with a changing pad so you can easily use that one. This thing comes in handy all the time wherever you need to change your baby.
This way, you don’t have to worry about getting them dirty or even finding a random shirt, towel, or cloth to lay down to ensure proper hygiene. Just make sure it’s always put back in your bag and wiped clean.
If your bag doesn’t have any try these disposable changing pads.
These garbage bags help to contain the smell so you’re not dumping a stinky diaper in someone else’s garbage pail or even if it has to sit in your car for a while you’re driving. You can also just use plastic bags from the grocery store if you’re on a budget!
5. Extra onesie/outfit/sleeper
Newborns are notorious for blowouts and spit up so chances are you will need an extra outfit, just in case. It’s a good idea to have a comfortable set of pajamas or a sleeper so you can take them out of their fancy outfit while they snooze.
This is something that can stay in your bag if you don’t use it, but don’t forget to replace it once your baby grows out of the smaller size.
6. Diaper cream and/or Ointment
I keep a small portion of this in my bag if I need it. I use sample sizes that I got from the free baby registry gift bags that stores typically give out ( Target, Buy Buy Baby, Walmart, or Amazon). It’s not necessary to carry around a full-size tube unless you have an extra.
Since your newborn needs to eat about every 3 hours, chances are that you will need to give a feeding while you’re out. Don’t forget to pack these items in your diaper bag.
1. Burp cloth
After a feeding, your newborn will need to get burped. Chances are, a little liquid will come out of their mouth from time-to-time. Be prepared for spit-ups with some extra burp cloths.
2. Nursing cover (if using)
If you’re nursing, chances are that you’ll have to breastfeed in public at some point. You’ll want to keep a nursing cover with you for privacy.
I love the Copper Pearl multi-use covers because they double as a car seat cover during the newborn stage and a high chair/shopping cart cover when they’re a little older. It’s a super soft, stretchy material and folds up so small to take up virtually no space in your bag.
3. Bottle & formula (if Using)
These are probably things that you’ll grab before you leave the house, however, it’s always good to keep an extra in your diaper bag or car.
Obviously don’t have a ready-made bottle sitting in your diaper bag, but if you use powder formula, you can leave a can or packet in there along with a water bottle.
You can pre-fill a formula dispenser or keep some powder in a Ziploc bag and stuff it in an empty bottle. This is something that you’ll never want to be stuck without so always keep a back-up.
4. Breast Milk Storage Bags
For breastfeeding mothers, bring breast milk storage bags if you plan to pump while you’re out.
Play and Other Items to Pack in Your Diaper Bag for a Newborn
Your baby will probably need to be stimulated at some point in your trip, here is what to put in your diaper bag for time that your baby might need some play time.
Have something with you that will keep your baby occupied or happy if they start to get fussy. Maybe it’s their favorite toy or squishy animal. Once they’re about 3 months, this is a toy that they will love as he grabs and mouths all the different parts.
2. Bandana bib
If you have a drooler, always keep a bandana bib handy. It will soak up the drool so they don’t ruin their clothes.
3. Pacifier (If Using)
Pacifiars are a Godsend if your baby will take one. You never want to forget these so keep 1 or 2 extras (because they always seem to get lost). We LOVE the Mam pacifiers. Keep them in a small ziplock baggy or a cute little case, like this one to keep them sanitary.
This is an easy way to prevent the pacifiers form getting lost. Just strap it onto your baby’s clothes but keep an extra one when you pack you diaper bag in case it gets lost too.
5. Muslin blanket
A muslin blanket is a great lightweight cover that can double as a burp cloth, nursing cover, swaddle, or light blanket. Definitely a good idea to have one of these on you if it gets too chilly for baby.
What to Pack in Diaper Bag For Mom
As I said above, the diaper bag becomes a mom’s new purse because it has plenty of room to keep your stuff and the baby’s stuff. Plus, who wants to carry around two bags with them? Here is a list of what to pack in a diaper bag for mom.
1. Extra shirt for mom
If your baby is spitting up or blowing out their diaper, chances are your clothes may get a little soiled, as well. Keep an extra top, scarf, or covering in case you need a quick change.
I know it’s hard to let go of your favorite purse, but it’s just not practical anymore. I consolidated everything I need into a small wristlet (wallet, chapstick, keys, etc.). You’ll finally realize it’s totally doable to fit your whole life into a tiny purse (and any overflow into the diaper bag).
If you’re still in the postpartum recovery stage, you may need some pain killers at times. Have these handy when needed.
4. Shout wipes or Pen
There will be spills and messes with babies so I pack these (along with the extra shirt), just in case.
5. Water Bottle
This is especially necessary if you’re breastfeeding because you will get very thirsty all the time.
For 6-12 months
As your baby gets older, their needs will change. They’ll tend to need a lot more items as they grow, but at least they won’t need to have as frequent feedings. Here is what to pack in a diaper bag for an older baby:
Everything mentioned above, plus:
1. Bibs/Disposable bibs
After 6 months, your baby will start eating solids. This may mean more of a mess so a bib is necessary. I love disposable bibs when eating out because you don’t have to worry about throwing a dirty bib back in your diaper bag.
You already have enough to clean up when you’re out to eat so these can just be thrown away instead of having more to clean up. These bibs even have a little catch tray at the bottom for all the food that falls.
2. Placemats/Disposable placemats
The best mom hacks are ones that help with clean up. These placemats ensure that your baby has a clean surface to eat off of when you’re out and you just get to pick it up and throw it away when you’re done. No extra clean up!
3. Snacks/On-the-go snack cup
There’s no question that babies love to snack. Keep some pouches and oat bars handy and keep them in your bag in case your little one needs a snack.
4. Sippy cup
Your child may need some water in between feedings so make sure you have a sippy cup or baby water bottle handy.
More ways to keep your baby busy is with books. These Highlight Books are perfect for babies and toddlers, small and light enough to fit easily into a diaper bag for on-the-go entertainment. I don’t want to carry extra weight, so board books are out of the question.
My favorite thing about these books is that they are made of tear-resistant and bite-resistant material and it’s actually a monthly subscription so your child will receive a new book every month.
6. Small interactive light-up toy
Keep your baby entertained with something like this cell phone toy. This will keep my daughter’s attention for a while now that she’s a little older. Always good to have things on hand to occupy them.
7. Crayon kit
For 12 months+ it’s helpful to have a little restaurant kit. I like to throw in crayons, paper, and stickers to keep her occupied when sitting in the high chair waiting for food.
Everything mentioned above, plus:
Packing essentials in a diaper bag for a toddler is a little different than packing a diaper bag for a newborn.
Underwear or Pull-ups
Consider your toddler’s potty training status when packing for the day or the entire trip. Ensure you have an adequate supply of either diapers, pull-ups, or underwear.
Always anticipate potential setbacks and plan accordingly.
Tissue or Boogie Wipes
Have you observed how congested those active little kids can get? I mean, quite literally! That’s why it’s always a wise choice to have boogie wipes on hand!
TONS OF SNACKS
Trust me on this one pack snacks, and if you think you have enough – pack more! These little ones can be tamed, and entertained with snacks so pack plenty!
Here are some great snack ideas:
- string cheese
- granola bars
- cereal (Cheerios)
- trail mix
- dried fruit packs
This GO BE Kids Snack Container is PERFECT for packing snacks
Toddler Busy Bag
Toddler Activity Kit
Ensure your activity kit is adaptable and captivating, designed to pique your toddler’s curiosity with a variety of colors and textures.
This toddler activity kit makes for an ideal travel companion, providing hours of entertainment for your little one.
Not only is it educational, but it also promises loads of fun!
Travel Potty Seat
If your toddler is potty training using a public toilet can be hard! Consider adding a foldable toddler potty seat to your toddler diaper bag!
For the summer:
You never know when you’ll end up staying outside in the sunshine for too long. Here are some diaper bag essentials for summertime.
Protect your baby’s delicate skin with baby-safe sunscreen.
Shield your baby’s head and face from the sun’s rays with a wide-brimmed hat.
If you’re heading to a pool or the beach, have swim diapers on hand.
Protect your baby’s eyes from the sun with UV-blocking sunglasses designed for infants.
If swimming is on the agenda, bring a baby-sized towel for drying off.
Don’t forget to pack a cooling towel to help keep both you and your baby comfortable in the summer heat.
Related Post: Tummy Time Tips For Your Baby
Here are some diaper bag essentials tailored for winter outings. Sometimes when seasons change we forget to update our diaper bag.
Having this list can give you a quick resource for changing your diaper bag essentials to winter items.
Warm Baby Clothes: Include extra layers such as a cozy onesie, a hat, mittens, and a warm jacket or snowsuit, depending on the weather.
Blanket: A thicker, insulated blanket or a baby bunting bag to keep your baby warm during stroller rides or outdoor naps.
Baby Hand and Foot Warmers: Disposable hand and foot warmers can be placed inside the stroller or car seat to ensure your baby stays warm and toasty.
Extra Socks: Keep your baby’s feet warm by packing an extra pair of socks or booties.
Winter Boots: If your baby is walking, bring along a pair of winter boots to keep their feet dry and warm.
Winter Hat: Ensure your baby’s head is well-covered with a warm, fleece-lined hat.
Thermal Swaddle Blankets: For infants, use thermal swaddle blankets to keep them snug and warm.
Hot Water Bottle: A filled hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can provide extra warmth in the stroller or car seat.
For the Back-up Bag
Keep a back-up bag in your car that is always stocked with extra items in case your diaper bag runs out. You can also keep things that you may not need everyday in there so your bag doesn’t get too heavy.
Items like diaper cream, lotion, extra diapers (in case you run out), bottles, tylenol, extra bibs, and anything else you think you don’t need to carry with you everywhere. Keep a small tote or extra case with them these items that will always remain in your car.
The diaper clutch is a helpful item that you can keep in your car, but also bring out with you. In the clutch keep 1 or 2 diapers, wipes, and a burp cloth. That’s all you would need for a quick trip.
Related Post: Best Newborn Toys For Development and Stimulation
Diaper bag picks
Now that you know what to put in a diaper bag, you need to know what is the best diaper bag to use!
Once I had my second child, I switched over to a backpack diaper bag, and am so glad I did. You definitely need to be hands-free when you’re running around with 2 kids under 2 years old.
I wish I got the backpack style sooner, but my original diaper bag served it’s purpose and I really liked it, as well.
I love this diaper bag because it has plenty of room, plenty of pockets, and a stylish leather exterior. It comes with the changing mat and also has an insulated bottle pocket.
It’s the perfect size for me because a lot of backpacks I tried are way too wide. They may have more space, but are so bulky on your back and don’t have a sleek look.
I didn’t think I’d like a backpack because I thought it would look too sporty and I wanted something to resemble more of a large purse, but this diaper bag is perfect! I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a nice bag that will last you awhile.
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable and you like the tote style, this bag was a great first bag for me. It has plenty of space, so many extra compartments and small cases, water-resistant fabric, and sleek design.
The extra cases were great for keeping baby food/snacks and compartmentalizing items. I also use one of the cases to keep extra items in my car that I don’t want to carry around with me everywhere.
You wont need your large diaper bag for quick errands so this Mini diaper clutch is great to carry a couple essentials, as well as a built-in diaper changing pad.
What to Pack in a Diaper Bag if You Are Going on Vacation
If you’re on a trip:
Diapers: Prepare 5 to 7 diapers per day, along with two overnight diapers for each night you’ll be away. Alternatively, pack enough for 48 hours and purchase more at your destination to save space.
First Aid Kit: Focus on essential items like pain and fever-reducing medications, Benadryl, bandages, antibacterial cream, and a thermometer. No need to bring your entire medicine cabinet.
Blanket: This versatile item can keep your child warm on a chilly plane or absorb spills.
Plastic Dishes and Utensils: A few sets are sufficient.
Laundry Detergent: Look for travel-sized options that are suitable for carry-on luggage.
Socket Protectors: They offer an easy way to childproof your accommodations while traveling.
Change of Clothes: Remember to pack spare clothing and an extra pair of socks.
Surprises: Include a new toy or book to defuse potential meltdowns or entertain your child during long layovers.
What to do if you don’t want to carry a diaper bag:
Don’t have enough hands? Not about to ruin your fashion choices? Not a fan of bulky bags?
If you don’t want to carry a diaper bag, you don’t have to! Consider packing a small and portable diaper bag kit in your purse!
Using something like this portable and foldable diaper bag pouch you can pack the essentials and just slip in your purse!
Portable and Foldable Mini Diaper Bag Pouch
What to pack in your mini pouches:
Diapers – a good idea is 6 per day but if you are going on a short trip 2-3 is sufficient. You can always have a back up bag in your car for emergencies!
Travel Wipes – These are the perfect size to slip inside your foldable pouch
Travel Diaper Cream – These are the perfect size for carrying around and not taking up too much room!
Teething sticks – These teething sticks are shaped and sized for convenience and still get the job done!
Formula Dispenser – These are stackable, narrow and perfect for on the go without taking up too much room
Baby Bottle – If you are using bottles you will need to pack one or two!
I’m glad you learned what to pack for diaper bag essentials and what’s in my diaper bag. Always remember to replenish your diaper bag when you come home from a trip! This will ensure that you don’t forget anything the next time that you’re rushing out of the house.
Do you have any other good ideas for what to put in your diaper bag? Write in the comments below!