Once the baby is here, you can never be too prepared. One of the ways that a new mom can prepare herself for the adventure is by keeping a well-stocked, highly organized, battle-ready diaper bag with her at all times.
You might not know it yet, but diaper bags are about to become an important part of your life. Check out our comprehensive list of essentials and packing tips.
The ultimate diaper bag checklist
If you only remember one thing, let it be the diapers. Pack one to two disposables or cloth inserts for every hour you will be out. Eight should be enough for a full day but throw in a couple extra if you think you’ll be out past dark.
Opt for one of the refillable travel packs of disposable wipes.
- Baby cream
Bring along a tube of soothing zinc-oxide diaper rash cream, or your favorite organic alternative.
- Changing pad
Check to see if your baby’s diaper bag has a changing pad. Who knows what organisms are breeding on that changing station in the public restroom.
- Hand sanitizer
Keep a sample-sized bottle of hand sanitizer around for times when regular handwashing isn’t possible.
- Disposable plastic bags
Keep a couple of disposable plastic bags on hand for soiled disposable diapers. These can also be used for storing used bottles, and garbage.
If your baby uses a pacifier, you’re going to want to make sure that you have a few extras that can live in your bag.
- Baby toys
Keep a couple of toys and other highly entertaining objects (rattles, teethers, books) on hand so that you can quash your baby’s boredom.
- Burp cloths
Burp cloths are essential for wiping up spit-up and drool.
- Change of clothes for baby
Keep at least one (okay, maybe more like two) spare sets of baby clothes on hand. Diaper blowouts, spit-up, and spills happen at the most inconvenient times. Don’t forget spare socks and, when seasonally appropriate, a light jacket. In our humble opinion, the ultimate spare clothing items are onesies!
Never leave the house without a seasonally appropriate hat for your baby. Wide-brimmed, breathable hats are perfect for warm, sunny days. Meanwhile, beanies are more appropriate for winter.
If your baby is 6 months or older, don’t even think of leaving the house without a mineral sunblock in hand.
- Light blanket or swaddle cloth
Those light muslin blankets you got at your baby shower are quite useful. Toss them over your sleeping baby while they’re napping, or drape one over your baby’s car seat or stroller to keep the sun away. You may also use one as a nursing cover when you are breastfeeding in public.
- Baby carrier
If you’re making your way on foot, you may also want to pack a compact baby carrier in your diapering bag. Wraps and slings tend to be the biggest space-savers. Then again, many experienced moms swear by their Ergo carriers.
- First-aid kit
Keep a small first-aid kit for those inevitable blunders, including bloody noses, scraped knees, and insect bites. Include bandages, gauze pads, and antibiotic ointment. If you’re toting along with medicine for mom and baby, be sure to put it in a child-safe container.
- Emergency contact information
Keep a luggage tag with your name, address, and telephone number on it. This way, if you accidentally leave your diaper bag behind, a good Samaritan will be able to return it to you promptly. You should also keep a list of your emergency contacts, including your little one’s pediatrician and your insurance information, somewhere in your diaper bag.
- Water bottle
You and baby must stay well hydrated. A water bottle full of crisp, cool water is one of our most coveted diaper bag essentials.
- A wet bag
Many diaper bags come with wet bags. These liquid-side containers are excellent for storing soiled clothing and cloth nappies. You can also use them to hold sunscreen and other products that were seemingly built to spill.
- Personal items
One bag is always better than two, so save some space for yourself. Toss your wallet, keys, sunglasses, and cellphone into a zippered side pocket, and leave your purse at home.
Bottles with premeasured formula
Are you looking for a go-to bottle-feeding setup for you’re out and about? Consider -placing premeasured portions of formula in clean, sealed bottles. This way, the only thing you have to do is add water and shake.
You can also purchase powdered formula holders.
If you’re not going to have access to a kitchen, throw some sanitized nipples in a clean, sealed container. Otherwise, expect them to be covered in lint and debris.
If you’re not using ready-to-feed formula, you’re going to need enough water to make bottles. A couple of bottles of water should suffice. Breastfeeding can leave you feeling parched!
Extra shirt for Mom (or Dad)
Spit up, blowouts, and boobie leakage happens. Make sure you have a spare shirt for yourself.
Keep a few nursing pads around if you’re in the beginning stages of breastfeeding. You never know when Old Faithful is going to erupt.
Snacks for mom
It’s easy to fall into an energy vacuum when you’re running around with a baby in tow. Keep a few replenishing shelf-stable snacks in your bag to stave off those mid-day cravings. Our favorites include protein bars, dried fruit, and mixed nuts.
We’ve yet to meet a mom or dad that hasn’t acquired a taste for goldfish crackers and cheerios!
Did your little graduate from the boob or bottle? Keep a spare sippy cup on hand. This way, you can be sure your little one is always hydrated.
Pack an arsenal of snacks that won’t ruin your little one’s appetite. A Ziploc bag of crackers or dry cereal should do. You can also bring along an insulated bag of fresh goodies, like hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and fruit dippers.
If your little one is over the age of 6 months, you’re going to want to bring along a meal or two. We prefer the pouches or plastic containers. Make sure you have a few sterilized feeding utensils, bibs, and some extra baby wipes to clean those sticky fingers.
Want to pack the ultimate diaper bag for babies? Add disposable table toppers and bibs to your list of diaper bag essentials.
How to organize your diaper bag
Use color-coded or distinct interior bags
Do you want to know what will amplify your diaper bag organization? More bags!
Develop a diaper bag system in which items for specific applications are bundled together. For example, put all your feeding supplies in one bag and all your diapering supplies in another.
Use distinct or color-coded bags to make this sort of compartmentalization even more pleasing.
Opt for sample-sized products
Don’t get into the habit of snatching staples out of your nursery. Purchase travel-sized hand sanitizers, sunscreens, etc. and spare accessories that never have to leave your diaper bag.
Make different bags for different occasions
Having trouble keeping up with the rapidly changing weather? What you put in your bag is going to depend on where you live and what season it is. Set time aside to declutter your bag after each season. You’d be surprised at home much space those hats and mittens can take up!
Milk, water, and sunscreen all pose high spill risks. Do yourself a favor and pack each one of these items in a separate and well-sealed plastic bag. Ziploc freezer bags are our go-to choice, but you can also purchase some more eco-friendly reusable food storage bags.
Choose a bag with ample storage
Opt for a bag with ample inside and outside storage. There should be lots of separate pouches as well as at least one over-sized pouch for bulky items like diapers.
Keep extra stuff in your car
Is your diaper bag on the brink of exploding? Move some of those diaper bag essentials to your car or stroller to keep your diaper bag feeling light.
Restock and clean
This tip is important for two reasons. First off, babies grow quickly, which means you’ll need to replace clothing and other items to ensure they are a good fit for your little one. Secondly, you want to be sure you removed all of those soiled diapers, wipes, and other perishable items at the end of each day.
For more tips, check out this video.
Wrapping things up
We hope you found our diaper bag checklist to be helpful and informative.
We did our best to include bag essentials for every stage of your baby’s growth. However, feel free to leave out or replace items as your baby’s needs and preferences evolve.
Ladies, your diaper bag is going to be your savior for the next 12 to 24 months. You can’t just pack in a diaper and call it a day. Do yourself a favor, and never leave home without packing it properly.