Leaving the house with a baby can feel like a bit of an odyssey.
You’ve taken vacations that didn’t involve as much planning and packing as this trip to the mall, right?
And a lot of the trouble often centers around what to put in that all-important accessory, the diaper bag.
Well, put down those armfuls of random stuff, and let us help bring some calm to the diaper bag chaos.
Here are the diaper bag essentials you should actually reach for every time you go out.
In this article: 📝
- What to pack in a diaper bag
- What do you need to carry in a baby bag?
- What should you always keep in your diaper bag?
- Quick diaper essentials list
- How do you pack a perfect diaper bag?
- What do you need in the diaper bag for the hospital?
- Do I need a diaper bag or can I just use a backpack?
- At what age do you stop needing a diaper bag?
What to pack in a diaper bag
What to put in a diaper bag will change according to your baby’s age, the season, and the place you’re headed.
But in general, here’s our list of the top five diaper bag essentials for every time you leave the house, especially with a newborn.
Your diaper bag essentials
Ah, the trusty diaper bag.
It’s every new parent’s lifeline when it comes to being out and about with a little one.
But what should you actually pack in it?
Here are some diaper bag essentials that will help keep you prepared for whatever your baby throws your way (literally and figuratively):
We’ll admit this one is obvious.
In the first few months, you’ll likely want one clean diaper for every two hours you plan to be out.
You’ll need fewer as your baby grows and starts to poop less often.
And if you’re worried about diapers expiring, don’t fret, they last for years after their recommended ‘expiry date’.
Not sure which diapers to choose?
Well, one of the favorites of our Peanut moms is The Diaper by Coterie ‒ that’s right, not just any diaper: The Diaper.
It’s available on subscription, so you’ll never run out, it’s got a whole host of awards, it’s hypoallergenic (goodbye, diaper rash!), holds 70% more liquid than other diapers, and is top-rated for minimizing leaks and blowouts.
That’s a pretty impressive resume.
The most versatile item in your whole diaper bag.
Maybe leave a spare pack in your car while you’re at it.
As for the best wipes according to our Peanut Community?
Coterie does it again ‒ this time with The Wipe.
Made with biodegradable, super-soft, 100% plant-based fiber, these wipes are durable, and up to 30% larger than other brands.
Plus, you can add this to your subscription and get more compact travel packs, so you’ll never run out when you need them, wherever you are.
3. Changing mat
Even when public changing mats look clean, you might feel more comfortable covering them with something that you know you’ve washed.
Some diaper bags come with changing mats built-in, too.
4. Bags for the dirty stuff
While most public changing rooms have somewhere you can put dirty diapers, elsewhere, you might not be so lucky.
Stashing a few plastic bags in your diaper bag means you can throw away dirty diapers without worrying about the smell, or pack up wet clothes to throw straight in the washer.
5. Hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes
Because when you’ve got to change, you’ve got to change, and there’s not always a sink for after.
Quick note: these are for your hands, not baby’s ‒ even hand sanitizer will likely be too strong for baby’s delicate skin right now.
What do you need to carry in a baby bag?
And here’s what you should consider in your baby bag for a longer journey:
6. Spare clothes for baby
Spectacular diaper blowouts are one of the many fun, poop-related surprises that being a parent is all about.
And for extra excitement, they can happen anywhere, anytime, especially when you least expect them.
So a change of clothes is definitely a wise inclusion for longer periods out.
If you’re a “like to be extra prepared’’ kind of mama, you might also want to throw in an extra layer in case the weather changes, or take a sun hat or gloves depending on the season.
7. Clean shirt for you
Spit up, leaky diapers, leaky boobs.
Aah, the joy.
There will come a day when you thank yourself for having thrown a clean shirt for you in your bag.
8. Bottles or nursing supplies
If you’re formula feeding, you can always pre-portion some formula into bottles and then just add water while you’re out.
If you’re breastfeeding, you might want to pack a nursing cover or clean breast pads.
Either way, don’t forget a burp cloth.
9. Snacks and drinks for older babies
Even if you’re only making a short trip, a compact tub of baby-friendly snacks, a piece of fruit, or a bottle of water can keep them occupied while you finish your jobs, wait for your friend to arrive, or make it the last few minutes to your front door.
And of course, don’t forget your purse, your phone, your keys, and anything else that you wouldn’t have left home without before you had kids.
What should you always keep in your diaper bag?
What about things to keep in your diaper bag all the time?
While you might need to restock other diaper bag essentials (like diapers), these are must-haves to keep in your diaper bag:
10. Travel-sized diaper ointment
Because diaper rash can happen suddenly, and it’s no fun for anyone.
Don’t go wild here.
The trick is a balance between enough to keep baby stimulated, and not so many that you end up bending down every two seconds to pick up one toy animal after another.
Just choose a couple of their current favorites.
Bonus points if you can clip them onto the stroller so they’re harder for your little one to lose.
When your baby starts grouching and you’re still 15 minutes from home, a pacifier might mean the difference between a meltdown and a peaceful (if brisk) last part of your journey home.
Quick caveat: babies under 6 months shouldn’t wear sunscreen, as it can irritate their sensitive skin, but if you think your babe might need some before 6 months old, have a chat with your doc first.
Just as we should wear it every day, especially if we’re going outside, babies over 6 months should also wear sunscreen, too.
Even if it doesn’t look sunny, sunburn and invisible sun damage can happen.
Quick diaper essentials list
For when you’re in a rush:
- Diapers (duh)
- Changing mat
- Bags for dirty clothes
- Hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes
- Baby’s spare clothes
- Spare top for you
- Bottles or nursing supplies
- Snacks and drinks for older babies
- Diaper ointment
How do you pack a perfect diaper bag?
Now for the packing procedure of it all.
It’s best to keep the diapers and wipes somewhere easily accessible ‒ y’know, for emergencies.
Toys and spare clothes can go near the bottom.
Most diaper bags will have designated slots for different essentials, too ‒ you’ll be packing your diaper bag like a pro in no time!
What do you need in the diaper bag for the hospital?
The hospital will usually give you diapers and disposable wipes for your baby’s first few changes.
They’ll also have basic pajamas for them to wear for their first cuddles.
You can find our full hospital bag checklist here, but what goes in a diaper bag for the hospital?
- A first outfit if there’s something special you want them to wear
- A going-home outfit for them to wear in their car seat
- Cloth diapers, if you’d rather use these than disposables
- Enough diapers and wipes to see you through the journey home
And what week should you pack a diaper bag for the hospital?
Lots of parents prefer to have things ready by the 36th week, just in case baby decides to put in an early appearance.
But if you feel like doing it sooner (or repacking once a week), that’s totally up to you.
Do I need a diaper bag or can I just use a backpack?
It’s totally up to you ‒ you can definitely use a regular backpack if you’d prefer to, or if you have one already.
But many diaper bags are purpose-made with specific slots for certain items, like bottle-feeding necessities, changing mats, and places to put dirty diapers.
As for the best diaper bag?
Well, the RUVALINO one is top of the charts according to our Peanut Community.
It’s pricey when it’s at full price, but you can often find it discounted ‒ sometimes by over half price!
And it comes in lots of different colors, too, so you can take your pick.
At what age do you stop needing a diaper bag?
Again, it’s up to you, but most of our Peanut moms tend to stop using a diaper bag when they start potty training.
At that age, you might still want to bring some diaper bag essentials with you when you’re out and about, but you might want to pack a little lighter.
Well, there you have it ‒ your ultimate guide to diaper bag essentials.
With these items in tow, you’ll be ready to take on the world (or at least the grocery store) with your little one in tow.
But remember, being a mom is all about flexibility and going with the flow.
Don’t stress too much about having the “perfect” diaper bag setup.
As long as you have the basics covered, you’re good to go.
So, pack your diaper bag, take a deep breath, and go forth with confidence, mama.
You’ve got this!