Diaper Bag Checklist: What to Pack in a Diaper Bag
New moms and dads: Meet your best friend, one that you’ll want by your side all the time. We’re talking about your diaper bag, of course. Consider it a security blanket for parents, or a heavy-duty mom purse. Whatever life throws your way—from incomprehensible freakouts to sudden hunger pangs to, yes, poopy diapers—a well-packed pouch that slings over your shoulders (and clips easily onto the stroller) can make messy situations disappear. Of course, what’s a diaper bag without its all-important contents? Yes, you’re going to be carrying a lot of stuff. Here, your trusty checklist to ensure all your diaper bag essentials are exactly where you need them when you need them.
Trying to figure out what to pack, and what can reasonably be left behind? Mentally walk through everything you’ll want (and need) to do with baby when you’re out and about. To get you started, these are the things pretty much all moms should have on their diaper bag checklists:
Part of crisis management is having the right gear at the right time. However, since babies are so unpredictable, it doesn’t hurt to have all your tools of the parent trade at your fingertips, all the time (or at least most of the time). Here’s what to consider adding to your checklist to bring your diaper bag of tricks to the next level:
If baby has thrown up all over their sweater or your tot is hysterical with hunger, having to search through a black hole of a bag or deal with wet things that shouldn’t be wet only adds to the stress. Here’s how to keep your diaper bag essentials at the ready:
Stash different categories of diaper bag essentials into smaller (preferably clear or different-colored) bags. It’s what mountain climbers do with stuff sacks in their backpack, so they can find things in a jiffy. (And when you’re a mom, every outing feels like an expedition.) Put feeding items in one section, diaper change items in another, your own stuff in another and so on.
Include a diaper-bag caddy. Essentially an offshoot of the previous tip, this consists of strapping a regular pack of wipes onto the lid of an empty wipe tub with an elastic headband. This leaves room inside the tub for diaper-changing essentials (diapers, a change of clothes in case of blowouts and a foldable portable changing pad). So when baby needs a change—and fast!—you can just grab and go.
Pre-portion each bottle. If you’re mixing formula, pre-measure water and pour into each bottle. Add pre-measured formula to each bottle only when you’re ready to feed baby with it. With breast milk, stick pre-filled bottles into a portable cooler pack if you’re going to be spending a good amount of time out and about on a hot day.
Prevent leaks. Even if you’ve double-checked that the milk, water and sunscreen containers are screwed on tight, Murphy’s Law says they can loosen up when jostled. So pack each in a sealed plastic bag, just in case.
You’ll need one diaper for every two hours you’re out—and maybe a few extra, just to be safe. Stock up on our favorite nappies on the market from Coterie. These standout diapers are designed to move seamlessly with baby, minimizing leaks and blowouts. Plus, the super-soft, hypoallergenic material quickly absorbs moisture. The result? A lower chance of diaper rash—perfect for keeping baby comfy while out and about.
Looking for dependable wet wipes to keep baby clean on the go? Opt for this plant-based pick from Healthybaby. Take the whole pack with you, or keep a few moist in a plastic sandwich bag to save on space. They’re the multi-tasker of all diaper bag essentials—handy for wiping baby’s bum, your hands and the changing pad, especially after use in a public restroom (ick).
This multi-use baby ointment can moisturize delicate skin from head to toe. The healing, fragrance-free formula can be used to soothe chapped, irritated skin caused by teething, drool rash or diaper rash. It’s the multipurpose product you’ll never want to be without. What’s more, this travel-sized tube won’t take up precious space in your pouch.
Even if your bag comes with a changing pad, you might find you need something a little larger. Pop this convenient clutch in your diaper bag, clip it to the stroller or carry it on its own to have a safe, clean spot for baby in no time. Don’t let its compact silhouette fool you—this option has a mesh pocket (big enough to hold cream, wipes and four diapers) and a front-zippered pocket (perfect for your keys and wallet).
Diaper changes are a messy business, which is where this on-the-go bag dispenser comes in. The simple device is easy to use and refill—plus, you can attach it to your bag or the stroller, thanks to its silicone strap. Each roll contains 12 lavender-scented bags to keep bad smells at bay, which is especially handy if you won’t have access to a trash can for a while!
If baby uses pacifiers, you’ll want to keep a few ready to go at all times. These parent-approved soothers come in a pack of four for less than $8, making them a budget-friendly pick to boot. Store them in a clean bag along with extra bottle nipples to keep everything sanitary.
Thanks to its versatility, a washcloth is another diaper bag must-have. Toss in as many as you think you’ll need, then add a few more. Made from muslin, these adorable washcloths are gentle yet durable, and will only get softer over time. When they inevitably get dirty, simply toss them in the washing machine and tumble dry them for clean cloths again in no time.
Hypoallergenic? Check. Plant-based? Check. Quick-drying? Check. This pick checks all of the boxes on our list when it comes to choosing the best hand sanitizer for diaper bags. It’s available in a fragrance-free formula, and can be counted on to combat 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria which may be on your hands before (or after) you clean feed or change baby. Better yet, it comes in a convenient pack of two.
Whether you’re packing infant formula or pumped breast milk, you’ll need dependable baby bottles to get the job done. This top-notch option has a no-drip design and an anti-colic valve for your convenience and baby’s comfort. Simply figure out how many feedings-worth you’ll need and pack accordingly.
You’ll need a change of clothes (or two) for baby because spit-up happens—as do blow-outs and leaky bottles. When messes occur, count on these sweet bodysuits for a quick outfit change. They’re made from super-soft organic cotton, and come in a handy pack of five. While you’re at it, throw in a couple of pairs of socks just in case.
Whether you have a summer or winter baby, you’ll need a seasonally appropriate topper to block out sun or cold. This ultra-soft beanie is perfect for little ones who are 12 months or younger, and is made from gentle organic cotton. Choose from a variety of adorable patterns, like whales, flowers or safari animals.
For little ones 6 months or older, toss in some sunscreen if you’ll be out and about in a stroller or at the park. This baby-safe formula is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and won’t leave a white cast behind. Reapply every two hours you’re out in the sun (or immediately after drying off with a towel) to keep your child’s skin protected.
No matter what the season, it’s always good to have an extra blanket on hand for unexpected breezes and drafty restaurants; they’re also useful to shade baby from the sun. These muslin swaddles are light and breathable while still being cozy, meaning they won’t be bulky in your bag. Available in a pack of three sweet designs.
If there’s anything that keeps your child happy and occupied, throw it into the bag. We’re fans of this stroller toy for on-the-go entertainment because it has a handy clip and plenty of textures for baby to explore. The soft cloud gently vibrates when the teether is pulled, and has a star squeaker and crinkly raindrop for more multi-sensory engagement.
Snacks are essential for tots when the next meal is in the far-off future (i.e. five or more minutes away) because there’s no “hungry” with kids, just “hangry.” That being said, pack one that won’t ruin your kiddo’s appetite, like these blueberry puffs. They’re perfect for older babies and toddlers, and the slim canister is easy to tote in your bag or stroller.
If you’re a parent to a toddler, you’ll invariably end up at the playground (even if you think you’re just going out for errands), making Band-Aids another diaper bag essential. This family pack comes with 110 flexible, waterproof bandages in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Even if your child’s boo-boo is a barely there scratch, one of these Toy Story-themed bandages is sure to make them feel better.
Keep yourself and your kiddo hydrated with a top-notch water bottle. This sleek, 24-oz. style will easily fit into your bag and can be counted on to keep its contents icy cold for hours on end. What’s more, it has a straw cap for easy sipping on the go.