Essentials to Pack in Your Diaper Bag

It's easy to feel like you're overpacking your diaper bag when leaving the house with your baby. We break down the essentials you need and give tips on how to pack efficiently.

Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson is a creative copywriter living in Florida. He's had work published with Realtor.com, theScore, ESPN, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In his free time, Sean likes to play drums, fail miserably at improv and spend time at the beach.
Sean Jackson
5 min read
A baby stroller with a diaper bag at the park
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Your diaper bag will become your new sidekick, one you will need to take with you whenever you and your baby leave your home. Ensuring your diaper bag has the proper essentials makes you prepared for any contingency that might arise. 

With this in mind, our guide helps you answer the question: What do you need in your diaper bag? We'll also supply tips on organizing it. That way, it makes managing the myriad of items simpler.

Read moreBest Diaper Bags of 2022

The essentials

Like when you pack for a trip, you'll want a checklist of essential items for your diaper bag. Using this list will help you remember everything you need for a successful adventure.

1. Diapers: The rule of thumb is to have one diaper for every two hours you're away from home. Although I recommend bringing a few more just on the off chance you'll need them.

2. A pack of wipes: Essential for when you need to change diapers or if other incidents should happen.

3. Plastic sacks or Ziploc bags: You'll need a place to deposit those full diapers or soiled clothes. 

4. Baby ointment: If space is a concern, buy a travel-sized tube and keep one in your diaper bag at all times.

5. Change of clothes: Bringing a fresh pair of clothes ensures your child feels better after a spit-up, spill or other incidents that warrant a clean outfit.

6. Washcloths: Keep at least a couple of these on hand when you're burping or feeding your baby. They'll come in handy if they spit up. 

7. Hand sanitizer: It'll keep your hands clean as you care for your baby.

8. Pacifiers: Separate the ones you used from the clean ones by keeping a plastic bag on hand to deposit the used ones in it. 

9. Food and water: Plan how long you'll be away from home and pack food accordingly. If your child is a little older, having water and snacks on hand can be a mood-saver.  

10. Toys: Keep your baby entertained by packing some of their favorite toys for the trip.

11. Blankets: Blankets keep your child comfortable and can protect them from the sun. 

12. Sunscreen: If they're older than six months old, pack sunscreen if you plan to do outdoor activities. 

13. First-aid kit: Have bandaids, cleaning ointments and more on hand if an accident happens. 

14. Pumping supplies: If you're breastfeeding your baby. 

15. Portable changing pad or towels: To change your baby's diaper on the go. 

16. Portable phone charger: Taking pictures of your child can drain your battery fast. As such, having a portable charger on hand keeps you in the game. 

17. Your items: You have needs too. Consider items you'll need like your phone, keys, credit cards and snacks (keep that energy up). 

a bottle, pacifier, bib and other baby items spill out of a diaper bag
Nicole Hill/Rubberball/Getty Images

Diaper bag extras

Along with the assortment of must-have items, it's vital to plan for the unexpected. This list of extras can keep you and your baby happy when you're away from home.

1. An extra shirt for yourself: If an accident happens, you can change and not worry about going home.

2. Hat: When the weather cools, having a warm knit hat for your child keeps them comfortable and warm. Conversely, a lightweight hat in the summer prevents sunburn.

3. Reusable placemats: Having these on hand will be convenient when you eat out. 

4. Nursing cover: This helps you maintain some privacy while breastfeeding your baby. 

5. Nasal aspirator: It keeps your baby's nose from being stuffy, resulting in a happier kid and a happier you.

6. Nursing pads: These come in handy for moms for the first few weeks after giving birth.

Essentials for caregivers

Having the right tools on hand ensures the baby remains happy and healthy. Here are some items to consider packing in your diaper bag.

1. Nipple cream: It will be helpful if you plan to breastfeed.

2. Socks: Baby socks enjoy falling off regularly. Keeping a couple of fresh pairs on hand ensures they're not wearing dirty ones.

3. Formula bottles: For moms not breastfeeding, pack several formula bottles. Keep the breast or formula cool with a Packit cooler. 

4. Snacks for you: Think easily portable snacks, such as fruit, granola bars or nuts. 

5. Small sound machine: If your child enjoys lullabies or the soothing rain, this will come in handy.

Mom with a diaper bag holding a baby
RichLegg/E+/Getty Images

Diaper bag packing tips

After seeing these lists, you might wonder: How on earth am I going to get all of this stuff into one bag? Rest assured, here are some tips to help you accomplish this.

Remember the essentials

As a parent, you're constantly doing something. It's incredibly easy to forget something important when packing a diaper bag. One way to remember everything is to have a checklist with the absolute essentials. Or develop a code that's easy to remember. Think of the five B's: bottle, burpee, blanket, binky and bite (for toys).  

Double-check your bag for diapers

Before you leave home, double-check you have enough diapers on hand for the voyage. Doing so will prevent you from having to make a pit stop on the road. 

Pack items seasonally

You won't need a heavy knit hat if your child is outside in the summer. And you don't need to tote sunscreen around if you're visiting the inlaws during the holidays. The key is to prioritize what you need for that day, and take stock every so often -- what haven't you used for a while? Doing so helps you create enough space for the items you need at the moment.

Keep spare items in the car

Another wise consideration is to have a spare bag with extra supplies in your vehicle. It can include diapers, cleaning wipes, bibs or toys -- pretty much anything you use regularly. That way, you don't run out when you're on the road. 

Clean and restock it when you arrive home 

Upon arriving back home, take inventory of the items you used. Clean the diaper bag and replenish it. Doing so ensures your bag is ready for your next trip. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.