What to Pack in Diaper Bag?
Whether you had the good luck of receiving the ideal diaper bag as a baby shower gift or you picked out one of your own, you’re likely asking yourself how to make it a useful part of your baby care collection. Since diaper bags don’t provide the same bottomless magic of a Mary Poppins carpet bag (though we could dream), it’s important to carefully curate what items take up that precious real estate.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re stepping into your backyard or out for a day trip in changeable weather, our list of diaper bag essentials will ensure you’re ready to handle whatever comes your way.
The Essential List for Babies
As a parent you always have questions such as: what clothes should a newborn sleep in or how many newborn clothes do I need. However,knowing what to pack in a diaper bag can be daunting—between the critical items and the incredible array of useful or pretty accessories available for babies today, you may feel like you need a diaper suitcase rather than a diaper bag.
But the name says it all, so let’s start with the diapers. Babies are all about sleeping, eating, and pooping, so your bag’s first job is to offer up the essentials to cover those activities.
When leaving the house, you’ll want to include:
- Clean diapers (three plus one per hour you’ll be out)
- Baby wipes in a travel pack or resealable plastic bag
- Diaper rash cream or ointment
- Clean plastic resealable plastic bags in a few sizes
- A small roll of dog waste bags for dirty diapers
- Formula, pre-measured (pack twice the expected need for the planned outing time)
- Clean bottle with a few clean nipples in a resealable plasticbag
- Bib that folds small or a clean bandana
- Burp cloths
- Muslin blankets that can be used for swaddling, burping, or as a changing pad
- A one-piece outfit (or the simplest option for the weather) if a clothing change is needed
- Sunscreen for babies older than six months1
- Mini first aid kit for babies designed for diaper bags or travel2
- Emergency contact information (including your pediatrician’s number)
The Essential List for Moms
While you’ll utilize most of the space in your bag to keep your baby clean and fed, there are some mom-specific items that should also live in your diaper bag. You’ll need to stay warm, clean, hydrated, and fed yourself—especially if you’re nursing—so consider adding the following:
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer
- Nursing and vaginal pads, if needed
- A you-sized snack (with nutrients specific to nursing, if needed)
- Portable breast pump, if needed
- Copy of your baby’s schedule (appointments, contact information)
- Your usual purse contents if you’re only carrying a diaper bag
Want to document your purse essentials to error-proof your packing? They generally include:
- Wallet with identification, cash, and credit cards
- Out-and-about makeup
- Lip balm
- Hand cream
- Gum or mints
The Essential List for Toddlers
As a baby grows, so do their accessories. Below is a list that swaps out a few key items and adds others to better fit your older baby or toddler. In particular, you’ll have new needs to cover related to play and movement, as well as a wider range of foods.
Refer to this list when the newborn stage is in the rear-view mirror:
- Clean diapers (three plus one per hour you’ll be out)
- Baby wipes sealed in a resealable plastic bag
- Disinfectant wipes
- Rash cream
- A small roll of dog waste bags for dirty clothes or diapers
- Clean pull-ups if they’re being used
- Clean resealable plastic bags in a few sizes
- Babyfood and snacks, twice what you’d normally use in the time planned for the outing
- Water and juice
- Sippy cup
- Travel serving utensils, such as a spoon and foldable bowl
- A bib that folds small or a clean bandana
- A resealable plastic bag full of folded paper towels, bandanas, or cloth napkins
- Travel changing pad
- Security or lovey blanket
- An extra outfit
- Additional layers, such as a sweater
- Pacifier, if used
- Mini first aid kit for toddlers designed for diaper bags or travel
If you still have room in your diaper bag, well done. You’re probably ready to jet off to a week in the tropics with a single carry-on.
But you can’t be too prepared for a baby-on-board outing, so let’s take a look at the next stage of diaper bag packing: what to add after you’ve got the essentials covered.
The Extras for Babies
The essentials list includes some doubling down, such as using a muslin blanket for a burp cloth. But if you’ve got the room, go ahead and pack dedicated items that will make your life easier, including:
- Travel changing pad
- Organic Burp cloths
- Medium-weight baby blanket (or warmer, depending on the weather)
- Multiple bibs
- Insulated bottle bag
- Full change of clothes down to socks
- Travel pack or resealable plastic bag of soft facial tissues
- Baby hat for sun protection or warmth
- Engaging toys or rattles
- Portable baby carrier or sling
- Full-size box of baby wipes (or a few travel packs)
- Baby Pacifiers and Teethers
- Toy and pacifier straps
- Reusable placemats
- Baby books
- Travel-sized baby lotion
Also, tuck in a complete first aid kit that includes:
- Nasal aspirator
- Nail clippers
- Baby-safe pain reliever
- Benadryl (for allergic reactions)
- Antibiotic cream
- Band-Aids in various sizes
- Gauze, medical tape, and scissors
- Alcohol wipes
- Saline drops
The Extras for Moms
Babies aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a bit of extra diaper bag room. For moms on-the-go, there’s always something that could make life easier in a pinch. Consider:
- Extra clothing, or at least a spare t-shirt, in case of breast leakage or baby spit-up
- Nursing cover
- Carabiner clips
- Phone charging cord
- Portable charger
- Book or e-reader
- Travel sewing kit that includes safety pins
The Extras for Toddlers
Sometimes, the biggest challenge when out with an older baby or toddler is keeping them occupied and happy. Adding favorite toys and play items to your diaper bag might be the difference between a quick grocery trip and a breakdown in Aisle 10.
So, consider adding these items for your toddler:
- Coloring kit: crayons, paper, coloring book
- More toys (consider the outing environment for what will work best)
- Reusable placemats
- Portable toilet seat
Making Your Custom Pack List
Packing a diaper bag may seem like a simple task, but it can put a dent in your schedule if you’re caught without essential items when they’re needed. That’s why it’s helpful to have a written checklist for your diaper bag. With a handy checklist, you can:
- Avoid relying on your memory when you’re stressed or pressed for time
- Rely on a sitter, friend, or family member to pack the perfect bag when babysitting
While there are common needs across babies and their parents, you and your baby are each one-of a kind. Remember to note any other specifics you may need to carry, such as:
- Unique products based on your parenting methods
- Clothing or products specific to your climate
Once you have a printed copy, fold it up and add it to a diaper bag pocket as your final item to pack.
Diaper Bag Packing Tips
Packing everything on your diaper bag list isn’t the only trick to ensuring you’re prepared during an outing—you also need to be able to find what you need quickly (and keep spills and leaks from happening in the process).
When you pack your diaper bag, consider a few of these helpful tips:
- Group by category – When you reach into your bag to deal with a messy diaper or a meal, you’ll want to find the exact items you need all in one place. Consider grouping all of your diaper changing items together and all of your feeding items together. You can even keep your standard “purse” items together in a single pack or pocket that’s easy to access.
- Plan for leaks – If it can leak, it probably will. Put containers with liquids or creams into secured resealable plastic bags even if they claim to be leak-proof.
- Green up your baggies – If the number of times the word “resealable plastic bag” appears above is giving you the shivers, purchase a set of reusable resealable plastic bags rather than disposable.
- Prep formula – Use baggies or a formula dispenser to measure out how much formula you need per bottle, so it’ll be easy to mix a bottle when you’re out and about.
Does Your Panel of Moms Agree?
While we’ve consolidated a lot of information to put these lists together, it’s always useful to do some more personal research. Consider the people in your life who’ve had children, and inquire if there are any diaper bag items to add based on:
- Your neighborhood, climate, or other location-based elements
- Shared cultural or parenting practices
- Other items they found helpful to have
You may come up with some diaper bag life hacks that surprise you.
Ready to Start Packing Your Diaper Bag? Start with Monica + Andy
While your focus for what goes into an effective diaper bag is on practicality, another way to look at it is comfort. A well-packed diaper bag will keep you and your baby clean, cozy, and feeling your best so you can focus on the adventure of the day.
At Monica + Andy, we offer a wide range of clothing and accessories designed with ultimate comfort in mind. Our blankets, swaddles, burp cloths, and clothing are all made from 100% organic cotton and other quality materials so you can wrap your baby in softness and style, no matter where you are.
Along with cuddly materials, choose from beautiful colors and limited-edition patterns you’ll want to bring on your next day out.
- "Diaper Bag Checklist." WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/baby/diaper-bag-checklist
- Sinrich, Jenn. "6 Helpful First Aid Kits for Babies." Healthline. 24 May, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/best-first-aid-kits-for-babies
- Dix, Megan."Best Bug Sprays for Babies." Healthline. 24 September 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/insect-repellent-for-babies#best-bug-repellents