When you’re out with your baby, a million things can go wrong. It takes one blowout to turn a simple doctor checkup or a peaceful walk in the park into a stressful outing. Luckily, there’s a solution, and it’s called a well-stocked diaper bag.
Keeping a diaper bag stocked with baby gear allows you to be ready for anything your baby, or the environment, might throw your way. Still, you want to avoid going overboard and lugging around a bulky diaper bag full of stuff you’ll never use.
So, what are the diaper bag essentials (how many diapers do you need? Read here)? We’ve drawn up a diaper bag checklist to ensure you cover all your bases and keep your baby happy and comfortable (this will probably look similar to what you packed in your hospital bag).
What Should Be on Your Diaper Bag Checklist?
Our diaper bag checklist will serve as a general guide on the best diaper bag essentials. Of course, feel free to change the content of your baby’s diaper bag as you see fit. The exact content will depend on your baby’s age, the outing itself, the weather, and your preferences.
What stays the same is the need for a quality diaper bag. While you could get away with using a backpack, diaper bags have been specifically designed to make parenting on the go easier. Most diaper bags come with super helpful features, such as insulated pockets to keep breast milk chilled or a changing pad to help you deal with a dirty diaper hassle-free.
Many diaper bags also consider the parents’ needs, so they feature a pocket for your cell phone, portable phone charger, wallet, and keys.
With that in mind, let’s move on to packing a diaper bag. Here’s our diaper bag checklist with 18 diaper bag essentials and a few helpful packing tips.
Diapers are probably the most obvious diaper bag essential. After all, that’s why it’s called a diaper bag.
There’s no need to bring a whole pack of diapers. One diaper for every two to three hours you’ll be out should do the trick. You can bring one or two extra diapers, just in case. However, be mindful of the “just-in-case” diaper bag extras, as they can quickly overflow your baby bag.
Few items on our diaper bag checklist are as versatile as wipes. Besides wiping baby’s bum, you can use these handy pieces of cloth to clean sticky fingers, tackle messes and spills, and clean your baby’s face.
However, be careful about using wipes for the first few weeks of your baby’s life. Some wipes can be too harsh on the baby’s sensitive skin. Even after the first month has passed, only use wipes designed to be gentle on the baby’s skin.
3. Portable Changing Pad
Most diaper bags come with a changing pad. If yours doesn’t, bring a portable changing pad with you. If you find this changing pad too bulky, a few disposable changing pads will do. These handy items will allow you to change your baby’s diaper on the go, transforming any surface into a baby-friendly changing station (Want more advice on how to change a diaper? Read our guide here).
4. Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is a diaper bag staple. It will be a lifesaver if you aren’t able to wash your hands before changing or feeding your baby. Make sure to buy a hand sanitizer suitable for your baby’s skin. With how much babies love touching everything around them, chances are they’ll need it, too.
5. Ziploc Bags
Ziploc bags are another highly versatile item on our diaper bag checklist. These bags come in handy for any messes you need to contain, including dirty diapers, soiled clothes, and a burp cloth covered in spit-up. You can also use one bag to seal away any health records you might need to bring along.
Although you could use any plastic bag for these purposes, Ziploc bags will contain the odors from soiled diapers, making them a superior choice. Other than that, any waterproof bag will do.
6. Diaper Rash Cream
A diaper rash cream is one of the items you should remember to pack in your diaper bag if you want your outing to last. A diaper cream will help prevent rashes and soothe minor scrapes. To save space in your diaper bag, buy a travel-size version.
7. Extra Clothes
One pee, poop, or food-related accident, and the cute outfit your baby is wearing is a goner. To avoid cutting the day short, always pack a change of clothes in your baby’s diaper bag.
8. Burp Cloth or Bib
Burp cloths are designed to withstand your baby’s spit-up and clean up spills. Depending on your baby, you might need to bring two or more burp cloths. Buy a burp cloth that doubles as a bib, and you won’t have to pack two separate items.
9. Bottle-Feeding Supplies
If you’re bottle- or formula-feeding your baby, don’t forget to pack a pre-made mix, baby bottles, and potentially a portable bottle warmer.
10. Baby Food and Snacks
If your baby is old enough to eat baby food, make sure to have plenty of it in your diaper bag. For a toddler, throw in some travel-friendly snacks as well.
11. Nursing Supplies
If you’re breastfeeding, nursing supplies are undoubtedly diaper bag essentials. You’ll need a breast pump, a nursing cover, and a couple nursing pads. Nursing covers protect your privacy while breastfeeding, while nursing pads deal with breast milk leaks between feedings.
Plus, a nursing cover can also double as a carseat cover.
A pacifier is one of those diaper bag essentials you only think of once you’re out of options for calming your baby down. Sucking on a pacifier will soothe a fussy baby in no time, so it shouldn’t be left out of your diaper bag. Also, throw in a waterproof bag or case to keep it sanitary.
Some parents might not think of toys as diaper bag essentials, but they can be very helpful for keeping a baby entertained while out and about.
14. Soft Blanket or Swaddle
Swaddle blankets are thin blankets wrapped snuggly around a baby to keep them calm and make them feel secure. Even if you aren’t swaddling your baby, this soft blanket can help encourage a nap during the outing. In addition, you can use it as a light blanket if it gets unexpectedly cold, or it can double as a nursing cover. Since this is a lightweight blanket, it will be easy to pack in your diaper bag and carry around.
15. Weather-Appropriate Clothing and Accessories
Since they protect the baby’s sensitive skin, weather-appropriate clothing and accessories are diaper bag essentials.
If it’s sunny outside, remember to pack sunscreen and a sun hat. A wide-brimmed hat should do the trick. In the wintertime, bring a winter hat, an extra shirt or other layers of clothes, and mittens.
16. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is one of the most important diaper bag essentials, especially if you’re headed to a playground. If you can, you should buy a version with brightly colored bandages with different cartoon characters. This way, it will be easier to calm your child after a little accident.
17. Water Bottle
Besides its obvious use, a water bottle will come in handy when cleaning bigger messes in and around your baby bag.
18. Mommy and Daddy Essentials
After ensuring all the baby gear is packed, and your baby is taken care of, a few extras for mom and dad can’t hurt. After all, you also have to stay calm and collected during this outing.
Besides baby-related items like nursing pads and an extra shirt, throw in anything you need during the day. This can range from a basic item like a wallet to something nice to have, like lip balm.
You’ve Got This in the Bag
Hopefully, our list of diaper bag essentials and packing tips will help you feel less anxious about going out with your baby. Once you learn what to pack in a diaper bag, this hands-free essential will become your best friend, allowing you to go anywhere at a moment’s notice.