A Checklist of Diaper Bag Essentials for New Parents
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Learning how to navigate life as a new mom can be overwhelming and tricky, especially when it comes to outings with your little one in tow. Packing the diaper bag with essential items will make even short trips much more enjoyable.
More: The Ultimate Guide to Packing a Diaper Bag
After you’ve found a diaper bag you love, start stocking it with the essentials for easy access on your outings. Keeping a well-stocked diaper bag means you won’t have to start from scratch before every outing, but don’t forget to change out extra outfits and diapers when you size up. Here are our top suggestions for what to include in your diaper bag beyond the essentials.
Editor’s Tip: For a more comprehensive printable list, check out >a href="/printables/parenting-tools-printables/diaper-bag-essentials-printable-list">Diaper Bag Essentials Printable List.
Our Top Picks
- The Best Item for on-the-go Diapering: Bumkins Waterproof Wet Bag at Amazon.
- The Best Light Blanket for Diaper Bags: upsimples Baby Swaddle Blanket at Amazon.
- The Best Travel Formula Container: Munchkin Formula Dispenser at Amazon.
- The Best First Aid Kit for Diaper Bags: Super Mom First Aid Kit at Amazon.
- The Best Travel Hand Sanitizer: Purell Hand Sanitizer Variety Pack at Amazon.
- The Best Travel Teething Toy: Manhattan Toy Beastie Boo Baby Teether at Amazon.
- The Best Portable Phone Charger: Anker Portable Charger at Amazon.
- The Best Baby Sun Hat: iPlay Brim Sun Protection Adjustable Hat at Amazon.
What to Consider When Packing a Diaper Bag
Breaking down your diaper bag into categories can help when determining what you need to pack. The main categories we recommend are diapering needs, extra clothes, food and drinks, toiletries, and additional useful items.
Diapering needs include your basics such as diapers, baby wipes, and diaper cream. You will also want to have disposable diaper bags or a wet bag in case you do not have somewhere to properly dispose of dirty diapers or you are cloth diapering. In addition, we recommend a changing pad or blanket that you can lay down on a surface to change your baby’s diaper.
Even if it’s just a quick outing you never know when you will need an extra change of clothes, blowouts wait for no one! From diaper explosions to spilled drinks, having an outfit change handy will come in handy. We recommend a full outfit change, including socks. While you’re at it, pack an extra shirt for yourself! Additional diaper bag necessities that fall under the clothing category would be a light blanket, a burp cloth, and at least one bib.
Food and Drinks
Depending on the age of your baby, food and drinks can vary. Bring bottles, sippy cups, formula, or breastmilk if you are bottle feeding, baby food, and utensils, a container of puffs, teething wafers, or a favorite snack. For babies old enough to eat a snack should always be included in a diaper bag. A little snack can save the day! Don’t forget to include a water bottle and a small snack for yourself.
This might seem like a silly category for a diaper bag, but we consider toiletries to be little bits and bobs such as hand sanitizer, first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, tissues, lip balm, and nursing pads. These items may change depending on your destination, but shopping in the travel size section of the pharmacy can provide you everything you need without taking up valuable space in the diaper bag.
Additional Useful Items
Some additional useful items to keep in the diaper bag include a teething toy, phone charger, a hat for the baby, one or two small toys, and a pacifier.
How We Chose Our Favorites
We consulted with experts, parents, and special education educators to get the lowdown on what you need to know to choose the best sensory toys for kids with special needs. We also tapped into these experts' advice to find out which brands were best and easily available on Amazon.
You’re probably familiar with wet bags if you use cloth diapers, but even if you don’t they can be incredibly useful. If you’re not able to dispose of a soiled diaper while on your outing, you can place it into a wet bag without worry about contaminating the rest of your diaper bag. Soiled clothes, dirty bib, wet bathing suit...pop them all right into the wet bag. Once you get home you can place the wet bag right into the laundry with the rest of your items. Trust me, after two kids it always wins a must-have space in my diaper bag.
“I tried a bunch of different bags before this one - double lined, supposedly extra durable, etc but they all leaked after a while. This bag is thin and lightweight but I stuff it full and it’s never ripped or torn or leaked!”
Keeping a light blanket in your diaper bag is perfect for using as protection from the sun, as a nursing cover, over the car seat to allow your baby to snooze, or as a light covering for a baby who gets a little chilly. Muslin blankets are super soft and lightweight and roll up very small so they don’t take up too much space.
“Given as a gift because I know how much I use these muslin blankets. Perfect light weight and size makes them useful for many things with baby. They remain soft after each washing and don’t shrink. Still using mine after 20 months - confident in sending as gift.”
If you’re feeding your baby formula, pre-measuring the powder at home means making a bottle on the go a breeze. This Munchkin combo pack comes with a single serving dispenser for short outings, as well as a 3 serving divided dispenser for longer trips. Add to your diaper bag with a couple of bottles of water and you’re good to go!
“So quick and easy to use. When you’re on the go, trying to scoop formula out of the can is sometimes a hassle and can be very messy....All you have to do is dump the formula in the bottle right from the container and you’re good to go. I love that one container has different compartments so you can just fill them up and have the perfect amount for each bottle.”
Accidents happen, whether it’s you, your baby, or another person in need at your destination. This first aid kid is lightweight, the perfect size for travel, and contains 85 items. You’ll items such as bandaids, alcohol wipes, gauze, tape, scissors, gloves, and even an emergency whistle. You will feel more than prepared for any situation.
“This tiny bag has it all, it’s unbelievable, really! So many helpful items, love it!”
You don’t need anything fancy when it comes to hand sanitizer, but when it has a convenient jelly wrap, you can attach it right to your diaper bag for convenient on-the-go hand cleaning.
“These hand sanitizers are great! They are compact and can attach to just about anything. I have these EVERYWHERE.“
If you’ve entered the age of teething or just need your baby to have a toy to fidget with, this one is a winner. Your baby can enjoy tactile and sensory experiencing while gumming on the various parts of this sloth. We love that it comes with a clip that can easily be attached to a car seat or stroller so that it can’t get away. Pop it into your diaper bag for quick entertainment on the go.
“My son loves his (we love sloths) and uses it for teething. I attach it to my diaper bag and bring it as a toy when we go out. Very cute!”
The last thing you want is a dead phone battery when out and about with your little one. A portable charger can be a life saver, and this Anker one is such a slim design it can easily be tucked right into your diaper bag while hardly taking up any space at all.
“Charges phone quickly and very easy to use. Carries easily in pockets and does not get hot. Would recommend having that peace of mind with an emergency phone charger.”
It’s important to keep your little one protected from the sun. Keeping a hat tucked in the diaper bag is perfect for spontaneous outings when the sun is shining. We love that this hat is adjustable, has UPF protection, and includes the chin strap to prevent babies from removing it.
“We just went to SeaWorld on a hot and sunny day, but my 10-month-old was very comfortable in this cap and didn't sweat at all. The material is soft and light, and it's very breathable.
Since it's adjustable, I got size 2-4T, so my baby has room to grow.”
Being a parent isn't always easy, but being prepared for even the smallest outings will surely help!
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Jennifer is currently working for a US-wide health care system, Jennifer has worked professionally for 13+ years in the fields of early education and leadership, including in the role of Director with the international edu