Your Diaper Bag Checklist
Never forget something again!
Whether you’re a new mom or you have a gaggle of little ones, one thing is for sure: you need to get out of the house sometimes. Easier said than done. Where do you even begin?
A productive (and necessary) start is to pack your diaper bag. This “baby bag” can be the holy grail while you're out with your infant or young children. Think of it as a portable nursery—one that includes all your diaper bag essentials. We know, especially for newbie parents, this can be an overwhelming task. The last thing you’d want to do is forget something important. That’s why we’re here to help.
Below, learn all about the best kinds of diaper bags to use and the diaper bag must-haves you should include. Plus, we’ll provide a guide on how to pack a diaper bag for optimal organization and ease of access.
Mommy Pro Tip: Compile the below diaper bag essentials into a checklist, or simply save this article. That way, you can easily reference it whenever you and baby (and any additional tykes) are on your way out.
What Is The Best Diaper Bag Style?
First things first. If you don’t already have a baby bag, you may be asking yourself: What type of bag should I use for a diaper bag? There are a few popular styles to choose from, so this part ultimately comes down to your preference.
Diaper backpacks are a convenient option as they free up your hands and tend to be easier to carry for longer periods of time. On the other hand, messenger bags can be worn cross-body, also liberating your hands and being easier to go the distance. And then there are totes, which can be ultra-roomy and a life-saver for long days out or weekend trips; however, they may be a bit cumbersome to carry for an extended amount of time.
If you still can’t decide, get yourself the best of all worlds: Convertible bags are exactly what they sound like. They can function as a backpack, messenger bag, or tote. The only drawback that we’ve seen, however, is that they tend to be on the larger side.
Choosing the ideal baby bag is an opportunity to have some fun, but there are also a few design staples that we consider a must. Take our below list of baby bag features into consideration:
Size: When it comes to diaper bags, size does matter. Our little ones are pretty high-maintenance, to put it lightly, so be sure the diaper bag you choose is big enough to accommodate everything you need to bring with you.
Easy to clean: We can’t recommend this feature enough. As you likely know, babies and toddlers are quite skilled at the art of making an absolute mess—of themselves and anything in their immediate orbit. Be sure your new diaper bag is easy to clean, such as machine-washable or made of a nonporous material that can be quickly wiped down.
Pockets, pockets, pockets: One transformation that you may relate to as a parent of a young child is an increased appreciation for pockets. Try finding a baby bag that has lots of places to store things. Some even have specialty pockets, such as ones for storing dirty clothes or your phone. They may also have insulated pockets, which make keeping bottles or perishable snacks fresh a cinch.
Stroller straps: Ever feel like you don’t have enough hands? Diaper bags with stroller straps can be a godsend. Simply strap them to your stroller and you and baby are on your way.
Changing pad: This is a useful feature found on some diaper bags that cuts down on the amount of things you need to remember to bring with you on an outing. There are diaper bags that come with a changing pad that either folds out or is removable. This type of multitasking product has our vote.
What Should I Always Have In My Diaper Bag?
Now that you have your dream diaper bag (never thought those words would resonate with you, did ya?), it’s time to load everything up. Below, find out what diaper bag essentials you should be sure to bring. And, later, we’ll show you the most efficient way to pack them.
Diapers: We’ll bet this one isn’t much of a shocker. In your diaper bag, be sure to have—diapers. But how many should you bring? The answer depends on your child’s age. Babies relieve themselves around 20 times a day in their first few months of life. But, no worries. You don’t have to change them each time they go—that could get both exhausting and costly. Swapping out that dirty diaper every two to three hours should suffice—though, of course, you know your baby best.
So, if you’re going to be out and about for, say, five hours, bring 10 diapers with you—plus a few extra for those unexpected moments (surprise!). For older babies or toddlers, you may be able to cut that number back slightly. But it never hurts to be extra prepared, especially when it comes to our unpredictable tiny tots.
Diaper-changing gear: Along with diapers, make sure you have everything else you might need to change your youngster. This includes baby wipes, travel-sized diaper rash cream, small plastic bags for dirty diapers (we like the sealable kind or the kind used to pick up doggy doo-doo that you can easily toss), and hand sanitizer for when you're all finished up. If your baby bag doesn’t come with a changing pad, be sure to bring one along, too.
You can also consider making a diaper-bag caddy. We love this multitasking hack. Rubberband a pack of baby wipes onto the lid of an empty wipe tub. Then, you can store used dirty wipes inside the tub until you can discard them.
Extra clothes: This is for both you and your child. Spitups, spills, blowouts, and any number of mishaps can happen throughout the day. Plan for them, and bring an extra outfit or two for your baby or toddler. For babies, we recommend having an extra footed onesie on hand; that way you don’t have to go digging around for that sock that’s hiding in the depths of your diaper bag. An extra top may be a good idea for you as well, just in case you wind up in the line of fire. (Of course, if you drove to your outing, save the space and leave your change of clothes in the car.)
Food & Drink: It’s always wise to bring some food and drink for your little one whenever you leave the house. Both babies and toddlers can sometimes abruptly become hungry or thirsty—and when they do, they may want it NOW. Babies should generally eat every two to five hours, depending on their age; think of it as two hours when they’re newborn, and one additional hour every two months up to six months of age. But, ultimately, you may know when your baby is hungry better than anyone—and that they will be. So, be sure to stash a bottle in your diaper bag, especially if you don’t breastfeed.
Toddlers and older children will likely tell you when they’re hungry. If not, just make sure that if they haven’t had a full meal, you give them a snack every two to three hours. Also, pack a pre-filled sippy cup or juice pack so they don’t get thirsty.
Be careful not to forget about yourself either. If you don’t think you’ll need a little something to chomp on, at a minimum, bring a bottle or thermos of something to drink to stay hydrated.
Burping Cloth: Along with food and drink, if you have a baby, bring a burping cloth with you. This may help cut down on the amount of spillage—saving that extra shirt of yours for next time.
Medicine: If your baby or child takes any medication, it’s imperative to remember to bring it along with you. Double-check this category before you leave. You never want to be left empty-handed when it comes to your child’s health.
One medicine that’s always good to have on hand in any case is Infants’ Mylicon dye-free or original gas drops. That way, they’ll be within reach to help relieve any gassy bouts that may arise. They’ll quickly help break down gas bubbles to help your baby naturally expel them. Bonus: They won’t stay in your infant’s system after their work is done.
(Read about what causes gas and how you can help prevent it here.)
If you have a toddler over two or an older child under 12, it’s also proactive to have Children’s Mylicon Multi-Symptom Tummy Relief with you. These new chewable tablets help quickly soothe multiple symptoms of tummy trouble such as gas, acid buildup, indigestion, and discomfort from overeating. Belly aches in kids are common, so prepare yourself in case one arises. Just be sure to always keep any medication out of little hands’ reach.
Medical Supplies: Of course, the goal is always to have an accident-free day, but we can’t always get what we wish for. From a playground tumble to a scraped knee, some kids are masterful at mishaps. Pack a small first aid kit with a few basics, like band-aids, antibiotic ointment, and clean gauze (you can always use some baby wipes to clean them up first). It might also be helpful to have a travel-friendly thermometer on hand, especially for longer or extended days away. Lastly, write down a list of emergency contacts and place it in a protective sealable sandwich bag. Just in case anything happens, people will know who to reach.
Sun protection: Although babies younger than six months should be kept out of the sun entirely (under a tree, umbrella, or stroller canopy), you should be sure to slather any child older than that in broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you worry about applying chemical sunscreen to your kid, use a mineral one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are especially effective at protecting super sensitive areas such as the skin on their nose, cheeks, shoulders, and on the top of their ears. Re-apply it every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
Mommy Pro Tip: Try sunscreen sticks instead of traditional sunscreen in a tube or spray. They’re easier to apply and won’t get your hands all gunked up in the process.
Comforts: Keeping some basic comfort items in the diaper bag can be a good idea—and sometimes a savior. Fold or roll up a baby blanket in case it gets chilly. If your infant is teething, a couple of teethers or pacifiers should also come along for the trip (we say “a couple,” because sometimes it seems like one of them will inevitably land on the floor).
A stuffed animal, toy, or book can be helpful to have on hand, too. They’re great for leisure time with your child. Plus, they may be able to serve as a distraction if your youngster’s emotional pendulum starts swinging out of control.
Here’s where you check that you’ve got everything you need. Items like your phone, phone charger, wallet, and keys may seem like a no-brainer. But after fretting over making sure you have everything your child needs, simple things like these can get lost in the shuffle.
The Best Way To Pack a Diaper Bag
Alrighty, we have everything laid out, now how do we fit it all? Follow the steps below to learn how to pack a diaper bag for maximum efficiency.
Step 1. Grab your checklist: If you haven’t already compiled the above items into a checklist, you’ll definitely want to (or pull up this article). It will help make packing your diaper bag much more of a breeze. It’ll also serve as a check on what not to pack. You wouldn’t want unnecessary things taking up precious space.
Step 2. Pick a pocket and stick with it: From the first time you use your diaper bag, decide which pocket you want to use for what, and use the same ones for the same things every time you pack. That way, you won’t have to go digging. Prioritize things like diapers and wipes so they’re the easiest to reach. Eventually, you may not even have to look in the bag to reach in and grab them.
Step 3. Create smaller bags within your diaper bag: Packing gurus like mountain climbers separate their items by category into smaller bags to make them easier to find. Put similar items, such as diaper items, in separate bags or even different colored pouches.
Step 4. How to store food and drinks in a diaper bag: The major concerns when transporting food and drink are spillage and spoilage. If your diaper bag doesn’t have a separate compartment for food and drink, throw some ice in a bag and double-bag it to help keep anything perishable fresh. Then, pre-measure any formula you use in a bottle before you leave.
Also, bag any fruit, so if your child doesn’t finish it, you don’t have to throw the whole thing out. Check the lids on any liquids and seal them in plastic bags. If your child snacks on packets of food, such as puffs, chips, or cookies, snap a couple of binder clips onto a strap of your diaper bag to seal any half-eaten goodies.
Next: Learn all about another activity you can do with your child with The Surprising Benefits of Baby Massage.