Building the Complete Diaper Bag

Read what essentials to pack for the complete diaper bag.

Building the Complete Diaper Bag

Your days of traveling light are over. Wherever you go with your baby, and however briefly you plan to stay, you need to go fully equipped. For local trips and everyday errands, here's what you'll need in your bag of tricks:


Rather than carrying the whole bulky box of diaper wipes, try streamlining. Buy a travel pack of wipes that you can refill whenever the supply runs low. Or just fold up a bunch of wipes and put them in a sealed plastic sandwich bag.

If your baby needs a new diaper while you're out and about, try changing her in the hatch of a hatchback, on the tailgate of a station wagon, or in the trunk of a sedan. You'll find this setup much easier and more comfortable than crawling into the back seat with her. Just put down a blanket and the changing pad, and you're ready to go to work.


Dry cereal and/or crackers will remain fresh for more than a month if you store them in small, airtight containers until you need them.

  • Plenty of cloth or disposable diapers. Always bring more than you think you need and restock the supply regularly.
  • Diaper wipes, not only for your baby's bottom, but for her hands (and yours as well).
  • Diaper cream-just in case your baby develops a quick case of diaper rash.
  • Several cloth diapers for spills, spit-up, and other messes. Nothing absorbs better than a thick cloth diaper.
  • A compact, waterproof changing pad to protect beds, couches, and other furniture when you need to change your baby on the go.
  • A few large plastic bags for dirty diapers, dirty clothes, dirty bibs, and leaky bottles or jars.
  • At least one extra set of clothes (depending on how long you plan to be out) in case of spit-ups, spills, and/or overflowing diapers.
  • One or two pairs of socks or booties in case her feet get cold.
  • A light jacket or sweater in case it gets cold.
  • A hat in case of cold (make sure it fits snugly) or sun (make sure it's wide-brimmed).
  • A small bottle of baby sunblock for when you and your baby find yourselves outdoors.
  • A set of safety covers for electric outlets. Once your baby has learned to sit up on her own, you may need to do a quick babyproofing job when visiting the homes of friends or relatives who don't have children.
  • One or two pacifiers in a sealed container (if your baby uses them).
  • A baby blanket, stuffed animal, or other comfort object (if your baby has one).
  • Two or three small and simple playthings in case your baby needs some entertainment on the run.
  • Two or three teethers. The extras will come in handy when the first teether gets dirty (as it inevitably will).
  • One or two sealed bottles of ready-to-use formula (if your baby bottle-feeds) or sealed bottles of water and a tightly closed container of powdered formula (with a measuring spoon).
  • A bib (once your child has started on solids) to minimize the need for complete changes of clothes.
  • Several snacks (if she eats solid foods). This item will become easier to pack once your child is ready for finger foods. But in the meantime, you can probably make do with one or two unopened jars of baby food. (You should also bring baby food in addition to snacks if you plan to be out for very long.) Don't forget the spoon.
  • A plastic bottle of water or one or two juice boxes.

When you get home, clean out dirty diapers, soiled clothes or bibs, and any food that you've opened (except dry foods). Take a minute or two to restock any items that are running low, and then put the diaper bag away. That way, the diaper bag will be ready whenever you need it. If you have to go somewhere in a hurry, you can just grab it and go.

For longer trips, you may want to pack more of each of the items in the preceding list and add the following:

  • A new toy that you think she'll like
  • Something interesting to look at: board books, pictures cut out of magazines
  • Extra finger foods (chunks of cheese, bananas, and so on) to minimize pit stops if you're traveling by car and to make sure that you have safe, appropriate, and nutritious food if you're on a plane or train
  • A first-aid travel kit with thermometer, adhesive bandages, gauze pads, antibacterial cream, tweezers, infant's acetaminophen, and syrup of ipecac

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