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Diaper Bag Essentials: 20 Things to Have on Hand

Diaper Bag Essentials: 20 Things to Have on Hand

The ultimate guide to diaper bag essentials for both baby and mom. Everything you need to pack, nothing you don't.

Written By
Nicole Kainz

Nicole Kainz

March 21, 2022

Feeding, cleaning, changing—oh my! If you recently became a mama, then you’ve probably figured out that newborns come with a lot of stuff. And if you have plans to be out and about, 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 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, especially if you are planning your first outing with your baby. We get it, and we’re here to help!

Before you load up, check out our top 20 diaper bag essentials to ensure you have 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. Packing your diaper bag with these essentials can make a trip out of the house more enjoyable and less stressful for everyone. Here are a few diaper bag essentials just for your baby.


Yes, this may seem like an obvious one, but we bet if you ask any mom, new or seasoned, they will admit to leaving the house without diapers at least once. It’s just one of those things that you assume to be in the diaper bag, so it can be easily overlooked.

When deciding on how many diapers to bring with you, think about how long you will be gone. How many diapers would your baby usually use during that amount of time? Once you have that number, triple it. When it comes to diapers, it is always better to be over-prepared.

Pro Tip: Stash an extra pack of diapers in your car for emergencies. You’ll thank yourself later if mom brain hits and you do end up forgetting to stick diapers in your bag.


When changing your baby out and about, it is important to have wipes in your diaper 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 using the same wipes may help eliminate the risk of an allergic reaction. Wipes are also good to have on hand for more than just diaper changes. They can also be used for quick clean up of any messes, leaks, or spills.

When the time comes that you no longer need a diaper bag, wipes will be the one thing you miss always having around.

Expectful Loves: Water Wipes

Changing Pad

Before you change your baby, whether it is on a changing table in a public bathroom or the backseat of your car, you may want to have a changing pad. Most 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 Tushbaby is a great option. Its sleek design means it won’t take up too much space, and the vegan leather is easy to wipe down and keep germ-free.

Diaper Cream

Diaper rashes are a common ailment for infants — it’s thought that between 16% and 65% of babies experience diaper rash! The good news is, most diaper rashes are treated at home, without a doctor’s visit.

Even if your baby hasn’t had a rash yet, they may get one without expecting it. Diaper cream is small and doesn’t take up a ton of space in the bag. Hopefully, you won’t need it on the go, but if you do, you will be happy you have it packed in your diaper bag.

Expectful Loves: Earth Mama Organics Organic Diaper Balm


If your baby uses a pacifier, add an extra or two in 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: Try a pacifier clip to keep your babies binky secure.

Bottles and Milk + Formula

If your baby is still using breastmilk or formula, it is 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 will last longer. A formula dispenser can make preparing them more manageable at the moment. Simply divide out the formula you need for each bottle and pour when ready!

If your baby is breastfed but prefers to bottle feed when 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. Breastmilk can be kept at refrigerated temperatures—39℉ to 50℉—for up to 24 hours.


Having an extra bib in the diaper bag is helpful to keep your little one’s clothes protected from milk or food. They can also help protect against excess drool if they are teething.

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 or a spill. Make sure to have an extra two, three… or ten with you at all times!

Expectful Loves: Copper Pearl Premium Burp Clothes

Change of Baby Clothes

You may be surprised by how many outfits your baby goes through. Some days, they may not need their clothes changed at all. Other days they may need multiple outfit changes. 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 them 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 well.

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—usually after six months old. Sun hats, sunglasses, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts can also protect your baby from harmful UV rays.

For winter, pack layers. Make sure you have an extra beanie 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 highchair cover. The list goes on. 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 are 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 may not notice until you are home.

Small First Aid Kit

As your baby starts to get more mobile, they may need a bandaid once in a while. This is especially true when they start learning how to walk. Be prepared with a small first aid kid.

This may include:

  • Bandaids
  • Antiseptic cleansing wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Travel-sized medicines
  • Nasal Aspirator
  • Nail Clippers
  • Hand Sanitizer

Expectful Loves: FridaBaby Baby Sick Day Prep Kit

Diaper Bag Essentials for Mom

Now that we’ve covered what you’ll need for your little, it’s time to go over a few essentials for you mama. 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 chose 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.

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 are easy to find when you need them. You can also add chapstick, lipstick, mints, or medicine you need to this area.

Pads and Tampons

Whether your cycle has come back or not, you may want to have a couple of pads or tampons in the diaper bag, just in case you start your period while you are out. The last thing you will want to do is stop at a store just for feminine products.

Hand Sanitizer

Keeping your hands clean is so important when taking care of your baby. There is not always a bathroom to wash your hands, so keep a hand sanitizer in the diaper bag.

Nursing Cover

If you’re nursing, you may prefer to stay covered during public feeds, but this is totally up to you. If you want a little privacy, a nursing cover can be super helpful. While you can simply 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 to latch. Nursing covers help keep your hands free during a feed — plus, they’re lightweight and comfortable.

Extra Shirt

Babies aren’t the only ones who may need a change of clothes. There may be a time when you need to switch your shirt for a clean one when you are out. 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 while on the go. As your baby grows, you’ll need to keep snacks for them too.

Simple snacks for you are protein bars, nuts, fruit, or small bags of cut veggies. Just remember to take the perishables out once you get home.


Don’t forget to hydrate! Just like eating, we can forget to drink water throughout the day. Women should be drinking around 74 oz of water a day, and men should drink about 100 oz. Another good tip is to have half your weight in ounces of water daily.

Pro Tip: Having a motivational water bottle that encourages you to drink more throughout the day can help you reach your hydration goals.


Knowing exactly what to pack in the 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 no longer uses.

It’s a good idea to go through your bag every four to six weeks to take out outgrown clothes and add more, wash and replenish essentials, and give your bag a good cleaning.

Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual. Expectful is here to give you real-life resources learned from real-life experiences.

Nicole Kainz
Nicole Kainz
Perinatal Writer