TLDR: Your diaper bag allows you to get out of the house with a baby, but only if you’ve packed it with the essentials. There’s nothing worse than finally arriving somewhere only to discover you’re missing something vital. This list gives you every product and item you’ll need for an outing with your baby, so you’ll be prepared for anything.
Feeding, cleaning, changing—oh my! Babies come with a lot of stuff. And if you have plans to be out and about after your baby arrives, you’ll want to be prepared for anything that the day may throw at you—from spills to blowouts. That’s why we’ve prepared this list of diaper bag essentials for mom and baby.
A functional and well-packed diaper bag will be your new BFF for the next few years. Once you pick the right style of diaper bag for you—backpack, tote, maybe a messenger—and a design that fits your unique style, you’ll need to pack it. Knowing exactly what to put in your diaper bag may feel a bit overwhelming, but Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, Jen LaBracio, has some advice. “Packing a diaper bag for the first time is definitely daunting,” she says. “I always tell new parents to focus on three essentials: diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes.”
Those prepare you for the basics out in the wild. For everything else, check out our list below of the top 20 diaper bag essentials to ensure you’ve got everything you need.
Diaper Bag Essentials for Baby
Babies may be small, but they have a lot of needs. No matter where your day takes you, your baby needs to eat, be changed, and have clothes that are comfortable for any sudden changes in weather or accidental messes. Here are a few diaper bag essentials just for your baby.
Yes, this may seem like an obvious one, but if you ask pretty much any mom, new or seasoned, they’ll admit to leaving the house without diapers at least once. It’s just one of those things that you assume is already in the diaper bag, so it’s easy to do.
When deciding on how many diapers to bring with you, think about how long you’ll be gone. How many diapers would your baby normally use during that amount of time? Once you have that number, triple it (seriously). When it comes to diapers, it’s always better to be overprepared.
Pro Tip: Stash an extra pack of diapers in your car for emergencies. You’ll thank yourself later if you do end up forgetting to stick them in your bag.
When changing your baby out and about, you’ll also need wipes in your bag. Whatever wipes you have at home, put a pack in your diaper bag as well. Some babies’ skin is more sensitive than others, so be sure to stick to what works so they don’t have a reaction to a new brand. Wipes are also good to have on hand for more than just diaper changes—you can use them for quick cleanup of any messes, leaks, or spills.
Trust us, when the time comes that you no longer need to carry a diaper bag, wipes will be the one thing you will miss always having around.
Expectful Loves: Coterie Wipes
3. Portable changing pad
Whether you’re using a changing table in a public bathroom, the backseat of your car, or the middle of a park, you may want to have a changing pad. It’s comfier for your baby and likely cleaner, too. Many diaper bags come with a built-in changing pad, but even so, you might find you need something a little larger.
Purchasing a portable changing pad like this one from Skip Hop is a great option. Its sleek design means it won’t take up too much space, and it comes with a pillow and extra compartments.
4. Diaper cream
Diaper rashes are a common ailment for infants—up to 65% of babies experience diaper rash1 . The good news is, that most diaper rashes can be treated at home, and your first line of defense is a good diaper rash cream or ointment
Expectful Loves: Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm
If your baby uses a pacifier, add an extra or two to your diaper bag. You never know when it may fall on the floor or be lost in the car while you’re out. Having a clean one on hand will give you peace of mind.
Pro Tip: Use a pacifier clip to keep your baby's binky secure.
6. Bottles + milk or formula
If your baby is still on breast milk or formula, it’s important to pack what you need for the time you are out. If your baby takes formula, have your bottles ready with the appropriate amount of water, or bring a few water bottles with you.
Leave the formula dry until you are ready to use it—it’ll last longer. A formula dispenser makes preparing bottles a lot easier on the go. Simply divide out the formula you need for each bottle and mix when ready!
If your baby is breastfed but will bottle feed while out, make sure you have a cooler bag and ice packs to keep the breastmilk cold. Some diaper bags have a small insulated pocket where you can keep bottles cold for a short time. Breast milk can be kept at refrigerated temperatures (39℉ to 50℉)2 for up to 24 hours.
Having an extra bib in your diaper bag helps keep your little one’s clothes protected from milk or food. They can also help if you’ve got a drooler!.
8. Burp Cloths
Burp cloths are incredibly versatile. They can be used to keep your clothes safe while burping your baby, a bib while bottle-feeding or breastfeeding your baby, or even to clean up spit-up, drool, or a spill. Make sure to have an extra two, three…or 10 with you at all times!
Expectful Loves: Tiny Kind Burp Cloth 4 Pack
9. Change of clothes
Some days, your baby may not need their clothes changed at all, while on others they may do multiple outfit swaps. It’s best to have a change of baby clothes in your diaper bag just in case. You never know what kind of day it’s going to be.
Make sure to check the sizes of the clothes once in a while. If they don’t use their backup clothes very often, you may end up forgetting about them. Trying to put a 3-month-old outfit on a 9-month-old may not work out so well!
10. Seasonal Necessities
Seasons change, and so should certain essentials in your diaper bag. For summer, pack sunscreen. Make sure to talk to your doctor about when it’s safe for babies to use sunscreen—it’s usually after six months old3 . Sun hats, sunglasses, and lightweight, long-sleeved shirts also can protect your baby from harmful UV rays.
For winter, pack layers, and make sure you have an extra hat in your bag. Switch out your baby’s extra pair of clothes to long pants and sleeves.
Blankets can be used for just about anything—changing pad, burp cloth, bib, nursing cover, play mat, swing, or even a highchair cover. Muslin blankets or thin receiving blankets are lightweight enough to keep in your bag and not take up too much space. A thicker blanket for winter months can be kept in the car, just in case.
Adding a small toy or two to your bag gives your baby something to play with when you’re out. Choose toys that are easy to clean, so you can wipe them down if they fall on the floor. Something to chew on is also a good idea for teething tots.
Pro Tip: Don’t choose a favorite toy that can’t be lost! Your baby may drop it and you might not notice until you are home.
13. Small First Aid Kit
As your baby starts to get more mobile, they may need a bandage once in a while. This is especially true when they start learning how to walk. Be prepared with a small first aid kid.
This can include:
Antiseptic cleansing wipes
Diaper Bag Essentials for Mom
Now that we’ve covered what you’ll need for your little one, it’s time to go over a few essentials for you. The modern diaper bag isn’t just for baby, after all. It can also be used to keep the things you need in one place too. Some parents choose to use this bag as a one-stop-shop for anything they need, instead of carrying a purse or another bag.
Here are a few essentials just for you.
14. Wallet and Cell Phone
If you decide to use the diaper bag as a purse, don’t forget your wallet, keys, and cell phone. Put all of your things in one compartment, so they’re easy to find when you need them. You can also add lip balm, makeup, mints, or medicine—whatever you’d put in your purse.
15. Pads and Tampons
Whether your cycle has come back or not, you may want to have pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup in the diaper bag, just in case you start your period while you’re out.
16. Hand sanitizer Keeping your hands clean is so important when taking care of your baby. There’s not always an easily accessible bathroom to wash your hands, so keep some hand sanitizer in your diaper bag.
17. Nursing Cover
If you’re nursing, you may prefer to stay covered during public feeds—or not! If you want a little privacy, a nursing cover can be super helpful. While you can also use a blanket, nursing covers are made specifically to keep the cover in place and not fall down during the shuffle of positioning your baby. Nursing covers help keep your hands free during a feed—plus, they’re usually lightweight and comfortable.
18. Extra Shirt
Babies aren’t the only ones who may need a change of clothes. Babies spit up, or you may pick them up, not knowing they have a blowout poopy diaper. If you’re nursing, it’s also possible you might have some leakage yourself. Keep a clean shirt for yourself in the diaper bag, too.
As parents, sometimes we forget to feed ourselves. Have a few snacks in your bag if you get hungry on the go. As your baby grows, you’ll need to keep snacks for them, too.
Simple snacks for you might be protein bars, nuts, fruit, or small bags of cut veggies. Just remember to take perishables out once you get home.
20. Water Bottle
Don’t forget to hydrate! Just like eating, we can forget to drink water throughout the day, and hydration is important, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Pro Tip: Having a motivational water bottle that encourages you to drink more throughout the day can help you reach your hydration goals.
Don’t Forget: It’s a Process
Knowing exactly what to pack in your diaper bag can feel overwhelming, especially for a first-time parent. As the days go on, though, you’ll find what works best for you and your baby. Remember, you can always add to this list or remove items that your baby doesn’t use.
It’s a good idea to go through your bag every few weeks to take out outgrown clothes and add more, wash and replenish essentials, and give your bag a good cleaning.