Any mom knows that a well organized diaper bag checklist is essential to any day out with a baby or a toddler! Having what you need on hand in a variety of possible scenarios can make the difference between a bad day and a great day with small children. Some of my friends call my diaper bag a “Mary Poppins bag” but after having four children, I am happy to lend out whatever anyone may need. We moms have to stick together!
If you are more of a minimalist, still consider packing a small bag that stays in your car or the bottom of your stroller. Some essentials for any baby or toddler include: diapers, change of clothing, wipes, bottles or nursing cover, snacks, sippy cup, and disposable bags or wet bags for soiled clothing or diapers. You may also need a blanket, pacifier, or favorite lovey, depending on your child.
If you are more of a be prepared for any scenario mom, keep reading for my complete diaper bag packing list. Feel free to leave a comment below on your most important diaper bag item.
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What type of diaper bag do I need?
First, on any list of the best diaper bag essentials, I think you need to consider the type of diaper bag you want to purchase. I have had a variety of bags, including a diaper bag backpack, a messenger bag style, and a more of a large purse version.
My personal preference is a backpack diaper bag. You can easily sling it over your shoulders or throw it in the stroller. Backpack styles tend to put less stress on your shoulders and keep it out of the way when you are carrying your baby, either in your arms or in a baby carrier.
It is a good idea for new moms shopping for the best diaper bags to consider a gender neutral color. First off, your partner will be more willing to hold it and secondly, you can use it for your second baby or third or fourth, boys and girls.
What should I look for in a diaper bag?
First things when shopping, my best tips are to look for easily accessible pockets, a spot for a water bottle and a baby bottle or two, an insulated pocket for breast milk and perishable snacks, and an internal pocket for your personal belongings like your cell phone and keys. You need lots of pockets for quick access, a great way to stay organized. When you have a fussy baby, you want to be able to reach into that cute diaper bag and find what you need quickly!
Also think about how easy is it to clean? Chances are between putting it on the ground, your toddler’s messy fingers, spills and just general dirt and grime, you will want to be able to wipe it down. Even better, the best option is a washable bag that you can throw in the washing machine.
If you want some diaper bag recommendations and don’t mind investing a bit into a diaper bag, my personal favorite is one like this diaper bag from Itzy Ritzy.
I really like the simplicity of this bag, along with all of the pockets – 17! Plenty of interior and exterior pockets with room for all that you need. You can easily wipe it down and black hides a lot of stains, which inevitably happen in life with young kids.
I also really prefer having a bag with stroller straps for easy walking around with the baby. This one also features plenty of exterior pockets for easy access. If the only downside to this diaper bag is price, consider shopping at a children’s secondhand store, Facebook Marketplace or area baby sales to snag a great deal!
Another great budget friendly option is this one from Fisher Price.
I really like the two side pockets that can hold water bottles and umbrellas. This one is made of polyester, so super simple to wipe down and keep clean. There is also an internal pocket with a zipper to keep track of additional supplies. Again, I like the neutral black color which will both hide dirt and grime and remain gender neutral. This is a great option for new parents!
What does a baby need in a diaper bag?
For new moms, it can feel intimidating to pack your hospital bag and your first diaper bag for your newborn. A lot of what you need to pack for your little one depends on your baby’s age, so it will evolve as your baby grows. To start out with, consider throwing in these important things:
- burp cloths (I always needed multiples for my spitty babies)
- change of clothes (change these out for season changes and sizing)
- extra diapers or cloth diapers
- diaper cream
- your own changing pad (do not trust that every changing table will provide disposable options)
- nursing cover
- swaddle blanket
- breast milk or formula in a bottle
- wet bag for dirty diapers or outfit changes
- nasal aspirator for stuffy noses
- pacifier and pacifier wipes
- Gripe water and gas drops
- pack of wipes
- teething toys
- infant medications, i.e. Tylenol
- nail clippers
What does a toddler need in a diaper bag?
As your baby grows into the toddler stage, you will find their baby needs change. To avoid a breakdown in the grocery store, stock your whole bag with some preventative help.
That help might mean small toys, a drink, a snack, or even a small container of bubbles! I have even thrown in a roll of blue painter’s tape which managed to keep my two year old engaged for at least 30 minutes!
Here are a few items to consider packing:
- a sippy cup of juice or water
- diapers for diaper changes
- diaper cream
- extra pair of underwear for potty training
- dry bag for any wet clothes
- spare outfits
- a small toy or stuffed animal
- baby food or snacks
- separate bag for baby’s diaper so you can throw it away
- snack catcher or snack container with a top
- eating utensils
- pack of baby wipes for messy faces and bums
- Band Aids
- sun hat
- coloring book
- blank paper
What are mom’s essentials in a diaper bag?
Moms, don’t forget your own essentials in a diaper bag! Reserve a small pocket for yourself. Here is my list of personal favorite important items:
- snacks (especially when you are nursing)
- water bottle
- nursing cover
- hand sanitizer
- Lysol wipes
- change of shirt
- hand lotion
- baby carrier
- small writing pad
- phone portable charger
- lip balm and lipstick
- face mask (if needed)
Another mom tip is to consider putting in an extra shirt for yourself! We all know that babies can leave their marks on their mamas, so it’s not a bad idea to throw it in since it won’t take up too much space.
More Diaper Bag Essentials for Traveling
If you are planning a trip in the car or on a plane, you may want to expand your diaper bag packing list a bit. Consider what your baby or toddler may need over a multi-hour travel day. Some of our favorites to include:
- toddler friendly headphones
- iPad or Kindle
- flexible toys like Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners
- snacks like Goldfish crackers, applesauce pouches, peanut butter crackers
- change of clothing
- disposable potty seat covers (for toilet training)
- sticker books
- small figurines like Little People
- bouncy ball
- disposable plastic mats for dining out
I hope this list of diaper bag essentials help you in your days of parenting little people. Fee free to sign up for my free newsletter with some great packing ideas for traveling with your children. And, hop over to these posts for more helpful mom life info!