What to put in your diaper bag
A well-stocked diaper bag can save the day. But what do you really need in there? It depends on how old your child is, how long you’ll be out, where you’re going, and how prepared you like to be. To see a list of the basics and some new ideas, check out our printable diaper bag checklist.
One for each hour you’ll be out, plus a few extra – just in case.
You can stick ten or so in a plastic bag if you’re not going out for long. Wipes are perfect not just for diaper changes, but also for sticky hands and dirty surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer
For cleaning your hands after diaper changes when there’s no time or place to wash them.
- Changing pad
Many diaper bags come with a reusable changing pad, or you can buy one separately. Some parents like the disposable ones for traveling. A hand towel from home will also do.
- Plastic or biodegradable bags
For storing soiled diapers, clothes, and baby blankets. Just make sure your child can’t get to them, since plastic bags (including the biodegradable versions) pose a suffocation risk.
- Bottle(s) of formula or expressed breast milk if you’re bottle-feeding
- Snacks (for older babies and toddlers)
Depending on the age of your child, this could include a jar of baby food and a spoon, or finger foods. Bring a few bibs as well.
- Sippy cup of milk, water, or juice (for toddlers)
You can use it to cover your baby or as a changing pad, nursing cover, bib, shade, or burp cloth.
- Extra clothes for your child
You never know when spit-up, drool, spills, or poop explosions will necessitate a change of clothing.
- Pacifier (if your child uses one) or other comfort item
- Sunscreen or a hat to protect your child from the sun
- Emergency information
Make sure you have the phone numbers of your family’s doctors programmed in your cell phone and health insurance cards in your wallet. You may also want to fill out this emergency contacts worksheet and take a copy with you.
- Diaper rash cream
Sample sizes often work well and take up less space.
- Nail clippers
You never know when your little one will doze off and give you the perfect opportunity to clip those tiny nails.
Moments worthy of capturing can happen anywhere!
- Nursing cover
For breastfeeding in public, these fabric drapes cover your chest and give more privacy than the basic blanket-over-the-shoulder approach.
- Breast pads for nursing moms
Slip these in your bra to absorb breast milk leaks.
- Sling or wrap for carrying your baby
Even if you’re heading out with a stroller, you may prefer to park it and transfer your baby to a hands-free carrier if you’re headed someplace crowded.
- Toys, board books, and crayons and coloring pages or paper
Choose toys based on your outing and your child’s age. A toddler going to a restaurant often requires a lot of entertaining distractions, while a 4-month-old may be happy with one rattle.
- First-aid kit
You may want to include adhesive bandage strips, antibiotic cream, pain reliever, and other first-aid supplies.
Necessities for Mom
If you’re not carrying a separate purse, make sure to pack your essentials, too! These may include:
- Cell phone
- Pen and paper
- Snacks, mints, or gum
- Bottle of water or other drink
- Book or magazine
- New shirt in case of spit-up or a spill
Diaper bag tips
- A waterproof lining makes life easier when spills occur.
- Multiple compartments can keep your items organized and easy to find.
- Prevent leaks by packing medicines and snacks in resealable plastic bags.
- Save time by packing similar items together, such as clothing, in a resealable bag.
- Consider buying two diaper bags – a small one for quick trips and a larger one for longer outings. Some parents keep a basic diaper bag or changing supplies in the car at all times.
- Try diaper bags on for size. No one bag is comfortable and convenient for everyone.
- Sometimes the best diaper bags are those that are designed for other purposes, such as tote bags or backpacks. If you don’t find something you think will work well for you, broaden your search.