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What to Pack In a Diaper Bag (+ free checklist)

One of the many things moms have to learn after having a baby is what to pack in a diaper bag. If you’re looking for a list of the essentials you’ll need in your diaper bag, I’ve got you. Plus, I’ve got two tips about how to make sure you never leave the house without things you need.

cute diaper bag

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Leaving the house with a baby is a whole different thing than leaving the house on your own.

After having my first baby, the idea of leaving the house with a baby weighed on me more than almost anything else. It wasn’t that I was worried about my baby getting sick, I just didn’t know how I would do it! 

I literally felt like it would be impossible to get out of the house with my newborn. I’d never done it before, and I was still just barely figuring out how to take care of a baby AT HOME!

Well, no surprises here, I eventually left my house with my baby. Everything went just fine.

Now I know that one of the keys to successful errand-running and day trips with kids is having a well-stocked diaper bag.

What to Pack In a Diaper Bag

No doubt you have lots and lots of baby items floating around your house that you use every day. So how do you know which to bring with you on the go?

You don’t want to be carrying everything on your back. And you also don’t want to have to empty your entire bag to find the one thing you actually need.

There are a few essentials you always need in your diaper bag and then there are a few things you might like to have just in case.

Essentials

I created this diaper bag list with one baby in mind, specifically a newborn. If you have multiple kids, you’ll want to add anything your older kids might need, like snacks and bigger diapers. But these are the essentials to pack for a newborn or young baby.

Diapers and wipes: Obviously, the first two things you’ll never want to be without are diapers and wipes. Depending on how long you’ll be away from home (and how old your baby is), you probably want to pack 4-8 diapers.

When it comes to wipes, I try to keep a package in the diaper bag that’s at least half full. When it starts to get low, I put a new package in the diaper bag and use the rest of the old pack when I’m at home.

Changing pad: Some diaper bags come with a fold-up changing pad. If yours doesn’t, make sure to buy one separately.

Diaper rash cream: While I don’t recommend using diaper rash cream everyday, if your baby does have diaper rash, rash cream is important for creating a barrier on their skin so it is protected from future poops and can heal.

My recommendation would be to keep diaper rash cream in your diaper bag if your baby is struggling with diaper rash, but to not worry about it when they’re not.

I’ve used Desitin, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, and Aquaphor. They all work about the same, though my favorite is probably the butt paste because of the ingredients (or, rather, the lack thereof).

Burp cloths: Especially in those first few weeks when your baby is still figuring out the whole eating thing, you’ll want a few burp cloths with you wherever you go. You know your baby best, so pack as many as you think you’ll need, but you probably don’t need more than 4.

Breastfeeding cover: If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to have a nice cover in your diaper bag. Even if you’re comfortable breastfeeding in public, there may be times and places you’ll be glad you have it.

Nursing pads: Again if you’re breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to have some nursing pads in your diaper bag, both to catch milk while breastfeeding and to prevent leaks in between feeds. While my daughter was exclusively breastfeeding, I kept 8 reusable nursing pads in my bag, plus a few disposable ones just in case I ran out.

Extra clothes for baby: Babies are messy – blowouts and spit up happens even on the go. I always keep 2 extra outfits (onesies and pants) in the diaper bag. I switch out short- or long-sleeve onesies depending on the weather. And I include socks, a jacket, and a hat during the winter.

Extra shirt for you: Especially in those first few months, I recommend carrying an extra shirt for you, too. Whether you leak or you get spit up on, it’s nice to know you have a clean shirt if you need it.

Baby bandanas: Young babies drool. A lot. Baby bandanas catch the spit and make it so you just have to change the bandana, not the whole outfit, several times a day. I keep 2-3 in my diaper bag.

Blanket: Whether for swaddling, an extra layer in the cold, or to lay your baby down on, it’s a good idea to always have a blanket with you.

Plastic bags: I try to keep at least one plastic grocery bag in my diaper bag at all times. They can be used for dirty clothes in the case of a blowout or some other mess. Or you can use them to contain an extra messy or smelly diaper if you’re in the car and can’t get to a trash can right away.

Toys: I keep 1-2 toys in my diaper bag so that wherever we are, especially in the car, my daughter has something safe to play with.

TIP: If you pack easy-to-clean toys, it won’t matter if your baby drops it in dirty places. You can just set it aside and wash it when you get home. 

Pacifier: If your baby takes a pacifier, you probably don’t like being caught without it. While my baby was using a pacifier, I always tried to have a spare one in the diaper bag so we never ended up anywhere without one.

TIP: Get a silicone pacifier clip, too. It keeps the pacifier from falling on the floor over and over. And the silicone makes it super easy to clean. It makes for a good teething toy, too.

Water bottle: Staying hydrated is super important, especially when breastfeeding. Make sure to pack your water bottle along with all your baby’s things.

Other items for you: I can’t live without chapstick, so I always have an extra chapstick in my diaper bag. I also keep tissues in there. You may also want to have a small bottle of hand sanitizer or lotion.

For Bottle Feeding

If you are formula-feeding or prefer to use a bottle of breastmilk on the go, you’ll need a few extra things. Be sure to pack a clean bottle (or two if you’ll be out for a while and won’t be able to clean the first). Also pack your formula or breastmilk.

Don’t bring the whole tin of formula. Just put what you need in a little baggy beforehand.

Breastmilk is good for several hours, even at room temperature, so you probably don’t need ice or insulation unless you’ll be out for a long time. Some diaper bags have insulated pockets if you do need to keep it cold, though.

And finally, if your baby won’t take breastmilk or formula cold, you’ll also need to pack a bottle warmer.

Extras

If you have room and think you may want them on the go, you can also throw a few extra things in your diaper bag.

I keep a pair of nail clippers and our Oogie Bear nosepicker in a small pocket. During the summer I also carry baby sunscreen.

You might also want to throw some snacks in because, if you’re like me, you’re bound to need one after breastfeeding.

Which Diaper Bag to Buy

Let me tell you a secret: you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good diaper bag. 

I considered getting just a plain ol’ backpack instead of a bag marketed as a diaper bag. Then I realized that nice backpacks are often just the same price or more expensive as a reasonably-priced diaper bag, so I went with the diaper bag.

diaper bag front and back

I bought this diaper bag from Amazon. And I’ve seen tons of moms with the same one. It’s comfortable to wear and has enough pockets and compartments for me to organize the way I want to.

How to Pack Your Diaper Bag Efficiently

I’m one of those people that loves organizing. It’s just so satisfying. Not to mention, things are way easier to use when they’re organized.

The diaper bag I recommended above has 5 main pockets: 2 big ones, 1 medium-sized one, and 2 small ones.

Here’s how I pack mine:

In the biggest pocket, I keep my changing pad, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, nursing cover, and blanket.

The changing pad I use came with the diaper bag and has its own slot. Diapers, wipes, and burp cloths stack nicely along the bottom of the bag, standing up. Then I just toss the nursing cover and blanket in on top of that. (This nursing cover comes in a little storage bag.)

diaper bag with diapers, wipes, burp cloths, blanket, nursing cover

There’s a small pocket on the inside of the biggest pocket that I keep snacks in, too.

In the other big pocket, I keep the extra clothes and the bandanas. My shirt, two outfits for my baby, a hat, a jacket, and the bandanas. I keep a summer hat in the mesh side pocket all time, too.

TIP: When you pack your baby’s outfits, lay the pants out with one leg folded over the other. Fold the onesie and put that on top of the pants with a pair of socks. Roll the pants up around the onesie and socks and you’ve got an easy-to-grab bundle when your baby needs a change of clothes.

diaper bag with extra clothes for baby and mom

I keep nursing pads in the thin, mid-size pocket. Disposables in the bottom, reusable ones easily accessible at the top.

diaper bag with reusable and disposable nursing pads

In the bigger of the front pockets, I keep toys, an extra pacifier, extra items like the nail clippers and sunscreen, and the plastic bags.

diaper bag with toys, pacifier, miscellaneous items

Finally, in the mini front pocket, I keep my chapstick and tissues.

Of course, my water bottle goes on the side. And I often tuck my phone in the zipper pocket hidden on the back of the bag (the part that goes up against your back when you have it on).

diaper bag with water bottle in side pocket

If you need to carry baby bottles, the front pocket where I keep my toys has insulated pockets and plenty of room for bottles and breast milk or formula. 

Two Tips to Make Sure You Always Have What You Need

To make your life even easier, I want to share two tips that I’ve used to make sure I don’t ever leave the house without things I need.

First, pack your diaper bag the same way every time. Develop a system for what goes in each pocket and how many, like I shared above. If you have a routine, it takes a lot less effort to make sure everything is stocked.

Second, restock your diaper bag when you get home, not when you’re about to leave.

It’s hard enough to get out the door with kids on time. So make things easier for yourself by making a habit of restocking your diaper bag as soon as you get home from running errands (or at least sometime before you go to bed that night) so that it’s stocked and ready for you next time you need to grab and go.

Diaper Bag Checklist

Now you know what to pack in a diaper bag, how to pack it efficiently, and how to make sure you never leave the house without the things you need.

As I mentioned, if you have other kids you can also pack clothes, snacks, water bottles, and diapers for them, or whatever else they’ll need.

Now the only way to make packing a diaper bag easier is…to have a checklist! You can hang your checklist next to where you keep your diaper bag or just have it on the fridge for reference those first few weeks.

And I’ve already created a checklist for you! Just enter your details below and I’ll send it to your inbox right away.

If you’re still in the stage of wondering how you’ll ever leave the house, don’t worry. You’ll get there. If you’re an experienced mom and just need a better way to manage your diaper bag, I hope you found these tips useful. If I missed anything that you’ve found to be helpful, tell us about your tips and tricks in the comments!

Until next time,

Allison

READ MORE:

What to Put in a Diaper Caddy (Just the Essentials)

29 Diaper Changing Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner

How to Prepare for Postpartum: The Ultimate Guide

The Baby Registry List I Wish I’d Had

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